New York Harbor Circle

Circle around New York harbor -- this adventure includes two states, two New York City boroughs, two big bridges, and a ferry ride. 

  • see Map of route + more mapping resourceswhere:  This adventure takes in most of the length of Manhattan Island, the northern tip of Staten Island, and the New Jersey shore of the Hudson River between Bayonne and Fort Lee.  Crosses the George Washington Bridge and Bayonne Bridge, rides the Staten Island Ferry.  Takes a side trip (optional) to one end of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge (which is closed to bicyclists and pedestrians).

  • 50 miles, mostly flat or gentle, with only two or three significant hills.  
     Map of Route Route Directions Cue Sheet Traffic Trip Reports and Road Condition Reports Photos More Routes 

43 miles, if the side trip to the end of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge is skipped.

Shorter variations could be created by using ferry boat routes between New Jersey and Manhattan.  But check in advance for current service availability and schedules and for current rules or restrictions about bicycles -- see Ferry links

A) GWB to Hoboken [bhvr1a] map on Bikely | Google Earth KML | download GPX

B) Hoboken to Staten I [bhvr1b] map on Bikely | Google Earth KML | download GPX

C) SI ferry to Verrazano [bhvr1c] map on Bikely | Google Earth KML | download GPX

D) Ver bridge to SI ferry [bhvr1d]:  map on Bikely | Google Earth KML | download GPX
E) South Manhattan to GWB: (no digital mapping or GPS resources)

 + (non-digital)  overview map of entire route

  • highlights:  A tourism adventure circling around New York harbor -- not a "route" like the others on this website.  Excellent views of the Manhattan skyline from many angles, and lots of pretty views of big expanses of water.  Visits to a variety of New York and New Jersey neighborhoods.  Elegant modern spaces, great bridges, and striking historic architecture.  

Exposure to a wide variety of terrain and traffic -- from busy city streets to elegant walkways; from a dirt path to a high-speed roads. 

If you've got the skills and appetite to handle urban traffic, and solve the unexpected challenges this exciting fast-changing city might offer -- and if you can ride it at a time when the traffic volume is low -- this is a rewarding adventure. 

  • characteristics:  mostly flat or gentle, with only three or four significant hills. Before deciding to take on this adventure, consider these hazards and challenges, and whether you have the skills, judgment, and "risk appetite" to handle them: 

 - - urban traffic of several kinds 
 - - highway traffic with merges, circles, exits, entrances 
 - - changes and restrictions on roads, paths, bridges 
 - - train rails crossing streets at sharp angles 
 - - unexpected bumps, holes, ruts  

We suggest you consider in advance what techniques and strategies you will use to handle these risks.   Some of the items on the Resources page may help, especially the books.  If you are not sure that these kinds of risks fits with your skills and with your approach and strategy on risks, then choose a different route. 

Traffic:  This route definitely has significant urban traffic -- though many miles of it can be avoided by taking bicycle paths and walkways (which have hazards of their own).  It also has some riding on a road with two lanes of traffic in each direction and no shoulders. 

Because of the traffic, we recommend doing this route early in the morning on a weekend day.  We recommend against doing it on a weekday any time near morning or afternoon rush hour.  

There's lots more detail about traffic on this route which is important -- see 

separate page on Traffic 

Road surfaces:  Some sections are off-road, with a variety of surfaces other than smooth pavement, including dirt,  brick, plywood -- sometimes in rather bad condition (see Reports).  Consider what tires you ride on, and be prepared to walk your bike. 

Bridges and Ferry Boats:  Before you decide to start this route, it's good to check the status of the bridges for bicycles.  While making up an alternate route for a closed road is usually not hard, it can be very difficult to find alternatives to a closed bridge.  

Sometimes in years past the Bayonne Bridge has been open to cars, but closed to bicycles and pedestrians -- without any notice on the official website.   Also, you may be required to walk your bike across -- see Condition Reports

And while we've never run into any problem with the Staten Island Ferry not running at all, sometimes it was not running as often as we were wishing -- so it's good to print a schedule off the their website. 

There are several other ferry boat routes which could be useful to create shorter variations of this route, or as contingency plans in case you run into a problem at a bridge crossing.  But check in advance for current service availability and for current rules or restrictions about bicycles -- see our Ferry links.  Many of the ferry routes between New Jersey and Manhattan are run by NY Waterway 800-533-3779.  

Crime?  This route passes through a rather wide variety of neighborhoods and areas.  We have felt comfortable riding through them in the morning and afternoon on weekends, without feeling afraid of criminal attack.  But that doesn't mean you will or should.  If you're concerned about this, check in advance with experts who have specific knowledge about crime in these parts of New York and New Jersey. 

Security restrictions: To enter Fort Wadsworth (near the Verrazano Narrows Bridge) may require identification to be displayed guard station.  Or it is possible that that area might be closed at times thought to be high-risk.  But that will in no way prevent from completing the remainder of the route. 

And it might have been a longer time since some of the Variations of the route were last checked by us.  Some roads and intersections might be different since then, or closed -- so be prepared to find alternatives -- a good reason to carry a detailed map. Other people may have more recent experiences with parts of the route which could help prepare: see the Reports page linked below.

Route not checked by us since 2005 -- learn more | see Reports

more . . . 

  • directions to Start points: 

GWB:  To get to the West end of the south walkway of the George Washington Bridge at Hudson Terrace / Route 505 in Fort Lee, New Jersey -- From Manhattan by bicycle:   See the GWB -- Central Park and Manhattan to Nyack routes.  

From New Jersey by carStarting from NJ Turnpike, I-95 Northbound, or I-80 Eastbound:  Get into the Local lanes of the George Washington Bridge approach. Keep working into the Right-hand lanes. Exit on the Right at the "last exit in New Jersey". Becomes Bridge Plaza South. Continue straight East to Route 505, and find parking -- one possibility is Fort Lee Historical Park.

Alternate start points:  

 - - Liberty State Park (New Jersey):  Take the New Jersey Turnpike Holland Tunnel extension  (I-78) to exit 14B, and follow signs to the Park.  One good place to park a car is by the Interpretive Center.  Or take a ferry from Manhattan -- see Ferry info.

 - - Hoboken station (NJ Transit railroad, Ferry boat from Manhattan, PATH train).  See Getting Around in New York City with a Bicycle.

 - - points in Manhattan along the east side of the Hudson River

reachable from Pennsylvania Station (Amtrak, Metro North railroad, Long Island Railroad) or Grand Central Terminal (Metro North).  See Getting Around in New York City with a Bicycle.

  • maps:  You must carry detailed (paper) road maps of Manhattan and Staten Island (New York), Bergen county and Hudson county (New Jersey) to do this route -- so that you can work out alternate routes to handle fast-changing openings, closings, and restrictions on roads, paths, and bridges (see Road maps). See also digital mapping + gps resources above.

see also

 Map of Route Route Directions Cue Sheet Traffic Trip Reports and Road Condition Reports Photos More Routes 

concept words:  

places: Hudson river valley, New York state, NY

counties: Bergen Hudson county New Jersey NJ Manhattan Staten Island NYC
towns:  Fort Lee Hoboken Jersey City Bayonne -- town city
sites:  ferry 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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