|KenR, May 2007:
Sharon and I rode south down the East side of the river on a weekend day -- after using sections A + B of the NYC to Bear Mountain Adventure to ride up the West side - (see report). We mostly rode the main East side route, except with these variations: A-1 and B-3.
We enjoyed it more than ever. I think being stronger on hill-climbing and eating + drinking enough on the first half coming up the west side helped us feel fresh for the whole second half. Looks like building lots of new stuff in Tarrytown, and we found a new coffee shop on Beekman between Sleepy Hollow + Tarrytown.
When we got to the east end of the George Washington Bridge, we saw another rider coming from the north side of the bridge, so we knew the South sidewalk must be closed, so we took our tandem across the North sidewalk of the bridge, which includes going up and down some steep stairways (not fun but it worked), and met other bicyclists who confirmed that the South sidewalk was temporarily closed.
Avi, July 2006:
Rt. 6 south from Bear Mountain - Not having looked at your cue sheets until today, I rode this route both times. I agree that there are treacherous curves. I found myself having to take the entire road on portions of the downhill to avoid being sideswiped by cars. Of course, when I'm going downhill at 30 mph, the cars can't go any faster than me anyway . . . One important feature of the road to point out - near the bottom of the hill, right before the entrance the the US military facility, there is a MASSIVE pothole in the shoulder. It gave me a nasty flat.
with some friends, i did a ride from ues manhattan all the way up to bear mountain, across the bear mountain bridge, and returned via metro north from the manitou station. a sweet 60 mile ride, and highly recommended. we followed the first half of this route (except for the part from bear mountain to manitou) . . . but i know for sure i don't want to ride my road bike over the unpaved terrain on that 2 mile dirt path again [ Jones Point - Dunderberg bypass path ]
[ regarding East side Section A and the "possible off-road path going toward the water on the east side of Peekskill Bay starting from Rt 9 / Rt 6 just south from the bridge over the Bay." ]
I noticed this too a couple of few ago and decided to check it out. The path descends quickly and empties onto a gravely road/path that runs next to the rail corridor for maybe 1/4 mile, after which it joins a paved road that takes you right to the intersection just north of the train station. I much preferred it to the climb and traffic of the main road.
East side Section A: I drove Rt 6 / Rt 202 southeast from the Bear Mt Bridge for 3.5 miles to its intersection with Rt 9 at Peekskill Bay a couple of times in a car. [ This road has since been added to the route directions Cue Sheet as Variation A-1 ]. This is the obvious alternate to the main route over South Mountain Pass in the cue sheet. I'm starting to feel like it might be within my risk profile to ride it in the southeast direction away from the Bridge. But not in the northwest direction toward the Bear Mt Bridge.
Seems like some questionable-visibility curves in both directions. But now it's looking to me like in the southeast direction away from the Bridge, most of those questionable visibility sections come either in the midst of a downhill, or shortly after a downhill -- so I could carry some speed thru them. I think this implies that: (a) I spend less time in each questionable section; (b) the speed difference between me bicycling and the cars in my lane is not as large, so the car drivers have more time to react to seeing me.
But in the northwest direction going toward the Bear Mt Bridge, some of the questionable-visibility curves come in the midst of substantial uphill sections, so I would be going much slower on my bicycle. So going that direction does not fit my risk profile.
Also, I notice a possible off-road path going toward the water on the east side of Peekskill Bay starting from Rt 9 / Rt 6 just south from the bridge over the Bay. It was paved at that point, but I don't know what happened with it or where it goes after it left the main road.
On Water St, I saw a sign for "Annville" path, but I don't know where the path was.
On a perfect weather day, Sharon and I rode the big loop on our tandem. It was pretty and fun and an adventure -- very worthwhile.
We followed the main route in the cue sheets except:
No problems with road conditions. We had no problem getting thru the dirt sections, but Sharon didn't like going over the bumps riding on the back of the tandem.
But one problem with a bridge: the South sidewalk on the George Washington Bridge was closed, so we had to take the North sidewalk. This required carrying our tandem bicycle up and down several steep stairways on both sides of the Hudson river.
We liked variations B-3, D-2, and E-3. Variation E-3 worked out nicely for us as a way to get thru Tarrytown while avoiding both the heaviest traffic and the toughest hills.
Things that struck us fresh this time:
Greg's comment on East side Section A, July 2003:
. . . about the Route 6 option east of Bear Mountain bridge. I've ridden this a number of times (not having heard of South Mountain Pass until reading your site yesterday). I've done it on weekends with considerable traffic and it's been ok. It's a good little climb and the road is narrow but it goes quickly and i've had no problems with inconsiderate drivers. And yes the view at the top is pretty spectacular. I suppose though, I'd have to qualify myself as being on the experienced/advanced traffic handling side of ridership with a fairly high tolerance of traffic.
On the spur of the moment, Sharon and Tony and I decided to try a loop from Manhattan up to Tarrytown on a Saturday morning, using the South County Trailway going up, and coming back on sections F, G, H, J of this route.
For the first half going up from Manhattan to Tarrytown, see the May 2003 report linked from reports on riding that combines use of both Roads and the County Trailways. Because of problems connecting from South County to North County Trailway in this direction, next time we'd rather do the part between Eastview and Yonkers in the north-to-south direction (unless we get definite word that the trailway connection has been improved).
F section : We rode on Rt 9 south from Tarrytown, and took the Variation on the Old Croton Aqueduct trail a short ways into the Lyndhurst estate, enjoyed the beautiful (but not over-large) house and the river view, but then immediately exited to rejoin the main route on Rt 9 south (instead of continuing on the OCA).
We turned west onto the Main St of Irvington, and took the Variation down the hill into Irvington, then visited the Scenic Hudson Park -- nice but short paved path beside the river and nice view of river and Tappan Zee Bridge, and a tapas bar nearby. But have to ask if that's worth climbing back up the big hill -- Sharon and I were surprised that we were able to keep riding on our tandem the whole way up, but the way they've laid out the parking on that street, there's not much room for a car to get past a slow-climbing bike, so a couple of times we moved off the road so we didn't slow down too many cars.
We turned off Main St and rode south on the Old Croton Aqueduct trail. The dirt was mostly in good condition, and then Sharon and I got off and walked our tandem up the last thirty feet into Dobbs Ferry.
We had a pleasant lunch at the Settepani bakery further down on Main St -- some creative soups and sandwiches, then some Italian cookies for dessert.
G section : the sign for Warburton was obscured by leaves, so fortunately I remembered it would come at a traffic light just up a little rise. Nice views across the Hudson from Warburton, but it started to rain a little. Then Tony got a flat tire, but the rain was light while he fixed it. No problem riding into Yonkers. We checked out construction on the waterfront -- looks promising, but still a long ways from finished.
H section : We rode slowly thru a pleasant afternoon block party on Buena Vista, and Hawthorne, Valentine, Riverdale were in good shape. It really started to pour rain after Yonkers, and we didn't consult cue sheet directions so I guessed wrong, missed the 249th St turn-off, and took 246th instead, then Left on Independence. Worked out OK, but we missed most of Palisades Ave -- except we rejoined the route for the south section underneath the Henry Hudson Bridge, which was fine, and continued to the Broadway Bridge.
J section : We discovered that the west sidewalk of the Broadway Bridge was closed, so we walked our bikes across to the east sidewalk -- which brought us out onto the wrong side of Broadway with lots of traffic. So we turned left onto 9th Ave, then right onto 218th St, and took that east across Broadway to rejoin the main route. Seaman was fine (a couple of broad speed bumps that didn't cause us any problem on our bikes). At Dyckman we made a Variation and turned west and visited the park out on the river beside the Tubby Hook Cafe, then returned to the main route. Bennett Ave was a nice way to do the necessary uphill work without so many cars whizzing by -- and the cliffs above at its beginning are dramatic.
No problem riding the south sidewalk across the George Washington Bridge.
November 2002, Ken:
Here's some thoughts about how I'm thinking about choosing variations and alternate routes for each Section of this loop:
West side of the River:
East side of the River:
I spent some time one day exploring possible routes from Rt 9 or Rt 9A in Croton or Ossining to the North County Trailway. My goal was to find some way to avoid all those miles riding on Route 9 from Ossining to Hastings. Here's my notes on some possibilities, from North to South:
I also investigated some ways to get from South County Trailway west over to Warburton Ave:
I started riding the loop (clockwise direction) from the GWB and rode an earlier version of the NYC to Bear Mountain Adventure to the Bear Mountain Bridge -- for that half, see other Trip Report.
From the Bear Mt Bridge, I repeated my previous route to Peekskill across South Mountain Pass, and still liked it -- since the dirt was fully dry. I was thinking there's a couple of short steep downhill sections that I would not want to ride east-bound if they were wet.
In Peekskill I went down Central Ave to Water St and a waterfront park and the train station, then continued south on South St to Route 9A -- I liked that, and better than my previous route. Then I went a long ways on Rt 9A, which I mostly liked, all the way to Croton (this time I skipped all the parks and river views, because I was short on time from exploring on the West side).
In Ossining I turned off Rt 9 onto Aqueduct, then (after going under what I assume was the Old Croton Aqueduct), turned Left onto an unsigned street opposite Ann St, and took this into the center of town. Then I headed south on State St, and then down by river to Scarborough station, then climbed moderately around the far south loop back to Rt 9.
As I looked closed at my special "Old Croton Aqueduct" map, it did not seem like the remaining open sections would help me much between Ossining and Hastings, so I just rode south on Route 9 the whole way to Warburton. My feeling was that the hills weren't as steep this way as going north-bound. The car and truck traffic seemed mostly tolerable to me -- but it felt wearing to keep going so many miles always conscious of so many fast cars nearby and traffic lights and side streets.
One place I disliked was just south of Ashford -- it narrowed to a single lane up a steep-ish with parked cars on my side. But it was hard to wait extra at the traffic light for the line of cars to go up ahead of me, because there was also a right-turn lane at the traffic light. Maybe it could be bypassed by just taking the right turn into Dobbs Ferry. Or perhaps this is one of the places that works better in the other direction (doing the route counter-clockwise).
Soon after that I turned off onto Warburton, and again that was enjoyable. After a side-move on Hawthorne and Valentime, this time I rode most of the way to the Broadway Bridge on Riverdale Ave, which felt mostly OK -- and some kind of interesting.
In Manhattan, I again rode on Broadway to about 178th St and the George Washington Bridge. Broadway felt more tricky and complex this time (but also very interesting) -- I'd like to find some quieter nalternate streets in Manhattan. Then across the GWB and I was done.
Here is what I rode on Tuesday from the Bear Mt Bridge to Peekskill, with some approximate distance and hill sizes that I calculated using DeLorme TopoUSA 3.0.
From the East end of the Bear Mountain Bridge:
North 1.3 mile on Route 9D (I found the shoulder reasonable, but not wide) (initial climb up from bridge is about 160 vertical feet, average steepness about 4% grade)
Right 0.2 mile on Manitou Rd (dirt, up hill) (A sign said something like No Thru Traffic, but I ignored it on my bike. If that's a problem for public "official" route directions, there's a simple but slightly longer way to reach South Mountain Pass Rd)
Right 2.1 mile on South Mountain Pass Rd (dirt, up hill for 1.0 mile, then down hill for 1.1 mile -- Total climb after leaving Rt 9D is about 400 vertical feet, average steepness about 6% grade -- but several steeper sections with gentler in between).
Right 1.1 mile on Route 9 South (I found the shoulder pretty comfortable)
Exit Left 1.6 mile on Highland Ave (exit requires crossing a lane of high-speed car traffic) (Highland Ave includes a climb of about 170 vertical feet, much of it at a steepness around 6%)
Finish -- Peekskill at intersection Highland and Main.
Total distance around 6.3 miles. Total uphill climbing around 850-900 vertical feet. I would rate that as "very hilly" compared to most (longer) routes in the Hudson Valley. But if the rest of the way to Croton Point Park is more gentle, the overall hilliness could average out to something more reasonable.
- - the hill climb on Highland Ave could be largely avoided by continuing south on Route 9, but I don't know what the road width and shoulder and traffic interaction risks are like.
- - I hold firm to my opinion that I will not ride that section of Rt 6 / Rt 202 between the Bear Mt Bridge and Rt 9 -- and I will advise against anyone else doing it.
- - Rt 403 further north is paved, but it adds 5 miles to my South Mountain Pass route, and includes a sustained climb of 1.5 miles on a curvy road with little or no shoulder much of the way.
August 2002 -- Ken on NYC.bicycles newsgroup:
On Tuesday I rode a loop of the Bear Mountain Bridge, down the East side of the Hudson River thru Westchester to Manhattan, across the George Washington Bridge, and up the West side thru New Jersey and Rockland county back to Bear Mountain (clockwise direction).
It was very interesting with lots of enjoyable parts, though I still do not feel like I've found a good route all the way through the east side of Westchester.
I was glad to find a way to avoid that curvy high-speed high-traffic section of Rt 6 / Rt 202 southeast from the Bear Mt Bridge.
Here's more details:
For me the route-finding puzzles were in northern Westchester, so I parked at Bear Mountain State Park and started by riding across the Bear Mt Bridge -- so I could get into those first and re-plan the rest of the tour depending on how that part went.
My first problem was to avoid that curvy high-speed high-traffic section of Rt 6 / Rt 202 southeast from the Bear Mt Bridge. What I did instead at the east end of the Bridge was to ride about 1.3 mile North on Rt 9D. Then I turned right onto Manitou Rd, which soon met South Mountain Pass, and climbed East on that, and then a long descent to Rt 9 -- almost all on dirt (which was in good enough condition for my 700x23C tires to handle). I calculate the climb as about 400 vertical feet, average grade 6%, but much was steeper with rests in between. (Compare with 300 vertical feet, at least 6% grade on Rt 6 / Rt 202).
Nice lane width and shoulder on Rt 9 South, then I turned left onto Highland Ave, and that worked nicely to take me into Peekskill. I liked the river views at Charles Point and Verplanck. I took Sunset to Rt 9A, and then visited the river again at Crugers. Then I got on Rt 9A, and found that pleasant to take me south all the way to Croton-Harmon, where I decided to visit Croton Point Park.
Then I took the bike path across the Croton River into Ossining. Then I really got into the hills. My second time thru Ossining I only managed to find a different set of hills. I then decided to try Sleepy Hollow Rd and the Pocantico Hills, which was interesting at least once, but I'm not convinced I'd want to make it my regular route. (For the future, I'm getting intrigued with seeing how the Old Croton Aqueduct could help get me thru Ossining and Tarrytown).
Having done all that hill work to get inland, I decided I might as well ride South County Trailway (a little scary that day with fallen tree branches from the wind, hidden in the shadows). I looked at my watch and discovered that all my exploratory sightseeing had left me with too little time to finish my loop -- so I simply took Nepperhan and Broadway to the GWB. I enjoyed the excitement of riding in traffic south-bound on Broadway.
From the GWB, I headed back North up the West side of the river by my usual route on the Bike Hudson Valley (except that I skipped "river road"). I found I still enjoy making the side trip to the Stony Point beaches.
Dunderberg bypass path / Jones Point was pretty well repaired from the storm damage three years ago. A bit sandy, but except for walking the first 50 feet, I was able to make it all the way north-bound riding on my 700x23C tires.
I think I'll do it again.
After riding south into Manhattan from Yorktown Heights on the North County and South County Trailways, Nepperhan Ave and Broadway, Sharon and I headed back north through the Bronx by going underneath the Henry Hudson Bridge, then on Riverdale Ave -- which we thought was at least OK. When we reached Yonkers, we took Valentine to Hawthorne. Then we went a long ways on Warburton, which we thought was great -- lots of glimpses of the Hudson river, light traffic.
We continued north on Route 9, which seemed OK at first, but as we came into Ossining the hills really got to us, and the traffic seemed heavier. We took some quieter streets through Ossining, seemed OK. Then crossed the Croton River and road north a ways on the Route 9 shoulder (some rumble strips, and of course crossings of exit and entrance ramps) -- Ken thought that was OK, but Sharon did not. We finally headed back inland, east-ward to Yorktown Heights, which was hilly.
Story of this route
Since I first got interested in riding loops around pairs of bridges on the Hudson River, I just assumed that I would never ride a loop south from the Bear Mt Bridge. Because:
Then I started exploring the Trailways in Westchester county, and that gave me some confidence about riding in Westchester. I took the time in the year 2002 to get in shape for long rides, so I could handle the distance between the GWB and Bear Mt. I saw hannah's suggestion about Hawthorne and Warburton through Yonkers, and Sharon and I tried that and it worked out well for us.
I tackled the last big obstacle by looking very closely at several maps for the area by the east end of the Bear Mt Bridge -- and saw South Mt Pass Road. I first checked it out by driving it in a car -- and it seemed like a ridable road with a reasonable connection to Peekskill.
I rode the whole loop, and I took some photos along the way -- and learned some things -- and discovered that it wasn't just one more bridge-to-bridge loop achievement to "check off" -- it was a rather interesting ride.
So I rode it again with different variations and took more photos. Then I made up these cue sheets and the map and the photo pages -- in hope that other riders would enjoy parts of it too.
see Condition Reports for:
see Trip Reports for: