GWB to Bear Mt Bridge Loop


  • where:  a loop on both sides of the Hudson river, crossing both the George Washington Bridge and the Bear Mountain Bridge.  Goes through Bergen county in NJ, and Rockland and Orange counties in NY on the West side of the river, and through Westchester county, the Bronx, and Manhattan on the East side. 

  • 92 miles (or 83 miles with alternate high-traffic roads) -- hilly (7200 vertical feet, hill index over 5.0).  

Overall Description of Route main route Map Route Directions Cue Sheet Trip Reports and Road Condition Reports Photos more River routes

  • highlights:  The first motivation is the achievement of doing a loop from Manhattan up to the Bear Mountain Bridge.  Along the way there are lots of pretty views of the River, and a wide variety of riding from (avoidable) dirt paths to four-lane high-traffic roads. 

The question is whether you think those benefits justify the additional traffic-interaction risks. 

The overview map + multiple cue sheets + discussion + reports here can help with:

- - making choices to manage the level and kinds of traffic-interaction risk 

- - finding a variety of interesting riding and pretty views -- so you might feel like it's worth riding this loop again

West side

A) GWB to Nyack [bhvr2a] map on Bikely | Google Earth KML | GPX

B) Nyack to Bear Mt [bhvr3a]: map on Bikely | Google Earth KML | GPX

East side

A-B) Bear Mt to Ossining [bhvr3b]: map on Bikely | Google Earth KML | GPX

C-E) Ossining to Tarrytown [bhvr3c]: map on Bikely | Google Earth KML | GPX

F-J) Tarrytown to GWB [bhvr2b]: map on Bikely | Google Earth KML | GPX

variations East A-1, B-2. B-3, C-3, C-4, D-2, E-2: map on Bikely | KML | GPX

> our usual mix East 2009: map on Bikely | KML | GPX

 + (non-digital)  overview map of entire route

  • characteristics:  Hilly.  Lots of motor vehicle traffic, and advanced traffic-handling skills are required.  At least two (avoidable) sections on dirt. 

Hills: The main route sections have a total of about 7200 vertical feet of climbing, which is plenty hilly for a route under 100 miles.  

On the West side there are some route choices to select the level of hilliness -- especiall Variation B of the GWB to Nyack route.  

But on the East side, northern Westchester is just hilly almost everywhere:  There is no gentle route on the roads through there anywhere near the Hudson River.  For discussion of some attempts to connect with a gentler route inland, see some of the Trip Reports

Two climbs stand out: 

  • the River road in West section A, north from the GWB has a climb of about 400 vertical feet, with a large portion of that at a steepness grade in the neighborhood of 10%.  (This and a couple of other steep-ish 100-foot climbs on the River road could be simply avoided by taking Variation B of the GWB to Nyack route

  • South Mountain Pass Road in East section A climbs about 400 vertical feet with an average steepness of 6% grade.  But several sections are steeper and whole climb is on dirt.  (But there's no way to ride to Peekskill from the East end of the Bear Mt Bridge without some substantial climbing). 

Unpaved or Off-road: There are three unpaved segments on the main route sections:  

  • the Dunderberg Bypass Path, 1.8 miles of off-road dirt trail on West section B   (This segment can be avoided by taking Variation West-B5)

  • Manitou Road and South Mountain Pass Road, 2.3 miles of dirt roads on East section A  (This segment can be avoided by taking Variation A-1.)

  • Old Croton Aqueduct trail, 1.8 miles of a dirt trail with some road crossings, on East section F  (This segment could be avoided by taking Variation F-3.)

Two of the Variations offer additional riding on dirt: 

Traffic: This route has a substantially larger number of miles with moderate and high volumes of motor vehicle traffic than almost any other route on this website.   And there are specific road sections that have greater traffic-interaction risks and require "advanced" traffic-handling skills -- more so than most other road sections in routes on this website. 

Warning:  Do not ride this route -- unless you are a very experienced road rider with an "advanced" range of traffic-handling strategies and skills, and you are willing to take on different kind and higher level of traffic-interaction risks than for almost any other route on this Bike Hudson Valley website.  

This route -- and some of its Variations even more so -- has several miles on roads with two lanes in each direction and little or no shoulder that often get substantial vehicle traffic. 

There's at least two views on this:  One is that it's bad and dangerous to obstruct a lane normally used by many other vehicles.  Another perspective is that when there's two lanes side-by-side in the same direction with reasonable visibility ahead, vehicle drivers are very accustomed to detecting something slower in front of them and moving to the other lane to get around it, and that this causes little inconveniece to anyone as long as the traffic volume is not high.  (It's not the role of this website to say which perspective on this is right for you.)

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more . . . 

  • multiple cue sheets: 

Our thought is that nobody is going to want to ride all 92 miles of the main route Sections on any single day.

Riders will want to skip sections they know well already to focus on exploring sections that are new.  Or need to save time as daylight is running out.  Or connect with train stations to avoid doing the whole loop.  

So the cue sheets do not follow a single sequence of miles:  Instead the several separate cue sheets each start from 0.0 -- and you select the sheets you find helpful on the day you've chosen to ride.  

  • choices of alternate roads

When we go on a long ride, we usually like lot of variety:  quiet roads shaded in the woods, streets in an interesting city with a nice food stop, an off-road path, a big view of the water, long fast cruise on a road with few traffic lights.  And that's how we've tried to set up the "main route" for this loop -- but skewed toward quieter roads and more turns than we might normally choose on a ride this long. 

Many of the Sections of this route offer a choice between an alternate high-traffic road which is shorter -- and the main route which has less traffic but usually more distance, and always more turns. 

The Summary table of the route Sections compares some of these alternatives.  For many of the Sections on the East side, the high-traffic alternate road does not offer much advantage in distance or climbing. 

The Trip Reports also have some discussion of pros + cons of some of the main route versus high-traffic alternate choices. 

  • Other routes that overlap and connect:

For some ideas about riding only parts of this route on the East side, with the assistance of the Metro North trains, see Bicycling in Westchester county

For a route between the GWB and Bear Mt Bridge that makes its loop all on the West side of the river, see NYC to Bear Mountain Adventure.  

For route directions for going in the opposite direction alongside the River down the West side (north-to-south), see the second half of the  NYC to Bear Mountain Adventure route. 

To focus on the fun downhills around Bear Mountain, see Seven Lakes to the River.

To connect with Metro North trains at stations further North on the East side of the Hudson river -- such as Cold Spring and Beacon -- see Bear Mt to Newburgh-Beacon Bridge and Train Stations with Bicycle Routes

To connect with routes and train stations around Manhattan, see Riding from the GWB

  • directions to Start points: 

George Washington Bridge:  See the NYC to Bear Mt Adventure, the  GWB -- Central Park and Manhattan to Nyack routes.

Bear Mountain State Park:  See the NYC to Bear Mt Adventure and the Bear Mt to Newburgh-Beacon Bridge loop

  • maps:  You should have detailed (paper) road maps of Bergen county (New Jersey) and Rockland and Orange and Westchester counties (New York), and the Bronx and Manhattan boroughs (New York City) to do this route (see Road Maps).  See also digital mapping resources above.

concept words:  

places: Hudson river valley, New York state, NY

counties: Bergen county New Jersey NJ Rockland Orange Putnam Westchester Bronx Manhattan NYC
towns:  Fort Lee Englewood Cliffs Piermont Nyack Congers Stony Point Haverstraw Tomkins Cove Peekskill Buchanan Verplanck Crugers Croton Ossining Scarborough Sleepy Hollow Tarrytown Irvington Dobbs Ferry Hastings Greystone Yonkers Riverdale -- west east north south -- city town village hamlet
sites:  Bear Mountain Mt State Park Palisades George Washington Bridge GWB

bicycling: bicycle bicycling bike bikes bicycles bicyclist cycle cyclist cycling touring riding rider riders

routes: route routes ride rides tour tours turn cue sheet sheets map maps

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