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Bear Mountain

The Breakdown

Find the cyclist’s entrance to the bridge in
Washington Heights and cross into New Jersey.

Nestled into the cliffs above the river,
this 8-mile stretch of undulating road
quietly connects Fort Lee and Alpine.

Bid farewell to New Jersey as you re-enter
New York with some amazing vistas atop the Palisades.

Embark upon a peculiar path around
a geological observatory campus,
pass by Bill Murray’s riverside mansion,
and discover a New York State Park bike trail.

Ride at river level through two quiet and
colorful villages. Pass beneath the Tappan Zee Bridge
and grab a picnic bench at Nyack Beach for some lunch.

Ride five miles of coast-hugging, varied-terrain bike trail
connecting the communities of Nyack and Haverstraw.

Continue the ride along the river or take a ferry
back to Ossining and the Metro North Railroad.

Forge ahead towards Bear Mountain as the road
becomes more challenging. Avoid one of the
hairier sections of 9W with an interesting short cut.

Cross the Hudson again, this time back to the
eastern shore. After Bear Mountain Bridge,
follow the road to Putnam County and reconnect with the
Metro North Hudson line. Grab a bite and a beer at
Whistling Willie’s, just up the hill from Cold Spring Station.

NYC to Bear Mountain

“You can’t go east and west at the same time.”
– Jean Charest

Living in New York City, it’s sometimes easy to forget that there is a west side of the Hudson River. New Yorkers might be somewhat egocentric, but the fact remains that Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx are all grouped to the east. And despite a couple of tunnels, PATH transit, and a handful of ferries with limited service, crossing the river may seem like it’s more trouble than it’s worth. But to ignore the bounty of roads, trails, and towns that the west side of the Hudson has to offer would be unfortunate for any NYC cyclist looking to lose the city for a day.

The east side of the Hudson has its charms and conveniences, such as the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail and the Metro North rail lines. But it’s scenery can become static, as you might agree if you’ve ever ridden the South & North County trails in their entirety. The west, on the other hand, presents a more dramatic and changing landscape.

Actually, if you were to leave from the city and ride north along the Hudson River for days, you’d come to the realization that both sides of the river are useful in their own way for different sections of the journey. For example, if you were on your way up to Kingston, you might begin on the east side, taking the forests north of Carmel to the Duchess Rail Trail into Poughkeepsie. Conversely, from here you might prefer to cross the river and take the Wallkill-Valley Rail Trail from New Paltz into Kingston.

But before we jump ahead, let’s begin locally. The ride from NYC to Bear Mountain is roughly 50-60 miles, depending on where in the city you start. This is about the same mileage as a ride up to Peekskill, except the road to Bear Mountain has a few more hills. And a few more counties. Assuming you begin in Manhattan, you’ll be passing through New York, Bergen, Rockland, Orange, Westchester, and Putnam counties before your day is through.

NYS Bicycle Route 9, which is a favorite among metro-area cyclists, follows U.S. Route 9W from the George Washington Bridge to Bear Mountain. There are, however, alternative roads and trails to 9W that bring you closer to the river and provide a more colorful option than riding confined to a seemingly eternal bicycle shoulder. This alternative route also has the effect of breaking the ride up into digestible stages, so that each completed stage is something of an individual achievement, and your distance from the city can be measured in scenic increments.

The one caveat to riding on the west side of the Hudson is that you lose access to the Metro North rail system. The train is a terribly convenient means of getting back to the city after a day’s ride and is also a comforting safety net in case you need to bail early. Therefore, once you cross the GW Bridge you’ll need a certain level of commitment to ride at least as far as Haverstraw, where, if it’s a weekday, you can jump on a ferry that will take you across the river to Ossining Station. Otherwise, the next river crossing that brings you back to Metro North territory is the Bear Mountain Bridge.

The nearest train station to Bear Mountain is technically Manitou Station, about 2.5 miles from the bridge. However, train service from Manitou only operates on the weekends and even then only provides a couple of trains per day. The next closest station is Garrison, about three miles up the road from Manitou. You’ll definitely be able to catch a train in Garrison, but there’s not much going on in the vicinity of the station.

If you can keep pedaling, Cold Spring lies another three miles up the road from Garrison. It’s a cool, quaint little town worth checking out. Cold Spring Station is conveniently located along the waterfront at the bottom of Main Street and there are a number of nearby options for food and drink. Whistling Willie’s, on the corner of Morris & Main, is as good a pub as any to wrap up your ride.

The Hudson River Greenway is a good starting point for most north-bound rides originating in New York City. A detailed description can be found in the NYC to Tarrytown trip. Therefore, let’s begin our ride in Washington Heights at the 181st St. pedestrian walkway as we locate the bike entrance to the George Washington Bridge.

George Washington Bridge

The GWB is the sole option for cyclists looking to cross into New Jersey without relying on ferries or PATH transit. It’s also the first of several bridge crossings as you ride north along the Hudson.

As you come up the Hudson River Greenway, the bridge is unmistakable as you pass beneath the enormous anatomy of its eastern span. However, finding the entrance to the upper deck sidewalk that hosts bike traffic can be a bit less obvious.

The first step is to cross the Henry Hudson Parkway, and in order to do so you must use the pedestrian footbridge that connects Washington Heights with the greenway. This is accessed by passing beneath the GWB and climbing away from the river so that you’re at equal level with the parkway. The aqua-rust colored footbridge has a sign at its entrance directing bicycle traffic to W. 181st Street.

After crossing the footbridge, you’ll turn right onto Riverside Drive and then left onto W. 181st as you continue the climb into Washington Heights. At the top of the hill it’s a right onto Fort Washington Avenue which crosses 179th and ducks beneath I-95. Next it’s a right onto 177th and another right onto Cabrini Blvd.

Get into the bike lane on the left side of Cabrini and turn left onto the sidewalk at the end of the street (178th). You’ll be moving against traffic coming from the bridge’s off-ramp, but it’s only for a short distance and you’re safe on the sidewalk. The entrance to the GWB’s south walkway is on the left.

It’s infrequent, but possible, that the south walkway is closed due to construction or some other reason. If this is the case, don’t cancel the trip. There is a north walkway located on the opposite side of I-95 at 179th and Cabrini Blvd. Hope that the south walkway is open though, because its northern counterpart requires carrying your bike and gear up and down multiple staircases.

Henry Hudson Drive

As you cross over to the New Jersey side of the river, you’ll notice a secluded road passing beneath the bridge and running alongside the Palisades cliffs. This north/south stretch of scenic roadway is aptly named Henry Hudson Drive, as it hugs the river for eight miles from Fort Lee to Alpine. Henry Hudson Drive (not to be confused with Henry Hudson Parkway) provides a serene and visually impressive alternative to U.S. 9W. The privilege, however, does not come without a price. In exchange for these eight miles of serenity and solitude, the road demands two arduous climbs – climbs I’ve affectionately termed “Little Bastard” and “Big Bastard”.

Although you’ll ultimately be heading north, the entrance to Henry Hudson Drive lies about a half mile south of the GWB. The first road you meet after exiting the bridge is Hudson Terrace (County Rd 505). Turning right takes you north towards Bicycle Route 9 while turning left takes you south towards the entrance to Henry Hudson Drive. There’s no need to cross this road. Turn left off the bridge and follow the sidewalk past Fort Lee Historic Park and downhill to the Edgewater park entrance for Henry Hudson Drive. From here, Henry Hudson Drive loops back in the direction of the river and straightens out to the north, passing beneath the western deck of the GWB.

Although Henry Hudson Drive is quiet and generally a great road for bikes, be aware that the road is two-way with periodic motor traffic. Therefore, keep to the right, especially upon entering at the Edgewater park entrance. Cars can show up unexpectedly on that blind bend.

As the tree-lined road heads north through Palisades Park, the basalt cliffs rise up to your left while the river steeply falls away to your right. A procession of rolling hills consistently revises your elevation and plunges down to meet the river at three separate picnic areas and boat basins.

The first of these, Ross Dock Picnic Area, is an optional visit as there is a separate road leading down to the river. Keep to the left to stay on Henry Hudson Drive.

The second site is Englewood Boat Basin. This time there is no choice as the road drops down to water level. The first of your two payments is due here as Little Bastard climbs up and away from the river for a little less than a half mile. Before you leave, look across the river for good views of Henry Hudson Bridge and Inwood Hill Park in Manhattan.

The third and final picnic area is Alpine Boat Basin. Like Ross Dock, it has its own entry road so can be avoided by keeping to the left. However, this is the starting point of Big Bastard – an initially gentle hill that gradually increases in grade and climbs for nearly one mile to the conclusion of Henry Hudson Drive at the Palisades Interstate Park Commission headquarters, more colloquially known as the police building.

This is a good spot to shake out your legs and have a drink or a snack. Inside the headquarters you’ll find restrooms, a water fountain, and visitor information.

State Line Lookout

Once you’ve refilled your water bottle, eaten your banana, and sufficiently rested your legs, continue north past the Park Commission HQ parking lot and follow signs to 9W.

At the traffic light, take 9W north towards the Tappan Zee Bridge. This section of 9W has wide shoulders to accommodate bicycle traffic, but you’ll be looking for your next turnoff after only 1.5 miles. Shorty after passing Kiku restaurant on your left, keep an eye out for a flight of wooden steps on the right. You’ll have to walk or carry your bike up this short staircase and use the overpass to cross over the Palisades Interstate Parkway.

On the other side of the parkway are a series of labyrinthine hiking trails, some of which meander east to the cliffs overlooking the river. These trails are good for a hike, but are not meant for bikes. Unless you want to end up lost, tired, and frustrated, I advise against riding on them.

Well, actually, we must ride on one. But not for very long.

Once you cross the overpass, take a left on the trail so that you are heading north keeping the Palisades Interstate Parkway on your left. Look for the next trail clearing and take it left so that you’re now riding back towards the parkway. Carefully emerge from the woods and turn right onto the parkway shoulder. An unmarked exit will be directly in front of you. This exit leads to State Line Lookout.

The lookout boasts some sweeping panoramas of the lower Hudson and is a popular spot among birdwatchers. The Tappan Zee Bridge also makes its first appearance of the ride and the village of Tarrytown is visible just to its north.

The Lookout Inn is a year-round cafe and gift shop on the premises that offers food and drink as well as an interesting selection of books about the Hudson River Valley. However, the snack prices are a bit much and the last rest stop was recent, so unless you’re really craving something, I’d suggest holding out until Nyack.

Lamont-Doherty, Palisades & Tallman Mountain

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Running alongside the summit of the cliffs at State Line Lookout is Old Route 9W, a retired concrete-surface highway originally built in 1926. This unpolished road is your best and only option from this point, speeding downhill from State Line Lookout before climbing back up to meet modern Route 9W at the technical state line. Old Route 9W is closed to motor traffic and characteristically disheveled, composed of uneven concrete slabs whose cracks are replete with weeds and wild grass. And although heavy storms can litter the roadway with natural debris or even a fallen tree, the road is wide and adequately ridable.

At the top of the hill, where Old Route 9W meets the current 9W, is the entrance to the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, a natural sciences research unit affiliated with Columbia University’s Earth Institute.

As an alternative to 9W, follow the observatory’s main road, Ludlow Lane, into the campus. There is a security kiosk with a barrier arm at the entrance, but this is only for vehicular traffic. Bikes may pass through without issue.

Follow Ludlow Lane as it winds through the campus until you reach the statue of Abraham Lincoln reading a book on horseback. Ludlow Lane continues straight ahead, leaving the campus and heading into the hamlet known as Palisades.

You may encounter a sawhorse roadblock warning “No Vehicles Beyond This Point”. Just go around as the warning does not apply to bicycles.

Palisades

Ludlow Lane leaves the Lamont-Doherty campus grounds and proceeds downhill into the small hamlet of Palisades. This section of Palisades along the route, also known as Sneden’s Landing, is wedged in between the river to the east, 9W to the west, Lamont-Doherty to the south, and Tallman Mountain State Park to the north. Palisades also has a registered historic district on the west side of the 9W known as the Closter Road – Oak Tree Road Historic District.

At first glance, the hamlet, with its modest homes camouflaged among the thicket, radiates a humble air of rustic and folksy charm. However, as the roads splinter deeper into the neighborhood, a few luxury residences begin to crop up. It’s not surprising that this cozy nook of land next to the Hudson River is a popular piece of real estate, but you wouldn’t think upon initial inspection that the hamlet is home to a number of celebrities. Al Pacino, Bjork, Angelina Jolie, and Trey Anastasio are among the notable residents reported to call Palisades home.

One famous actor, who I know for a fact lives (or at the very least used to live) directly along the route, is Bill Murray. Mr. Murray’s home, in fact, is at the end of the unmarked road where you find the trail that connects with Tallman Mountain State Park.

Making this discovery was something of a stroke of luck. I was retracing the route on Google Maps after the first time I did this particular ride, paying special attention to the Tallman Mountain approach since the entrance was difficult to locate. In the aerial view I noticed something odd within the property next to the Tallman Mountain trail. It was some kind of massive logo painted on the bottom of a swimming pool. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a Chicago Cubs team logo. A bit of internet digging confirmed that this swimming pool belongs to none other than native Chicagoan and Cubbies fanatic, Bill Murray.

So if you’ve got any blockbuster scripts, be sure to throw them over his gate.

In order to access Bill Murray’s road and the trailhead to Tallman Mountain, you must follow Woods Road to its conclusion and pass through two austere concrete columns marked “PRIVATE”. As they say, “it’s better to plead ignorance than ask for permission.” And as you can see, this phrase will become something of a common theme throughout this ride. If anyone gives you trouble, just say you’re visiting your Uncle Bill.

Once you’re face-to-face with Mr. Murray’s front gate, you will find an unpaved trail rambling off into the woods on your left. The trail was at a time, and still may be, marked with a Rasta beanie tacked to a tree.

Follow this trail to Tallman Mountain State Park.

Tallman Mountain

The trail leading away from Bill Murray’s house is a bit bumpy but short. At its end there are two yellow barricades standing sentry at the entrance to Tallman Mountain. Slip through and turn right. The crushed gravel provides a relatively smooth-surfaced trail that bends north for approximately 1.5 miles through the hushed and shaded state park. There are sections of the path that are also paved.

Keep an eye out for black rat snakes. They’re nonvenomous and, unless you’re a rat, not a cause for concern. But I’ve seen one hanging out in the leaves to the side of the trail and it was huge. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to snap a photo before it slithered away.

The trail has a few twists and turns but as long as you stay right you’ll keep pointed in the correct direction. Once again, you may arrive at a sign informing you that the “road is closed”. Disregard and continue north along the Piermont Marsh as the trail descends to river level and enters the village of Piermont.

Piermont & Nyack

The trail emerges from Tallman Mountain Park and reunites with Bicycle Route 9 at Piermont Ave. Piermont, unsurprisingly, is known for its extremely long pier that juts out nearly halfway across the river and is accessible via Ferry Road.

Piermont Ave is lined with homey restaurants, cafes, and shops reminiscent of a small New England town. In addition, the village carries the same relaxed vibe that one expects to feel in low-maintenance beach communities. Piermont Bicycle Connection, which also sports an interior espresso bar, is located on Ash Street near the center of town if you’re in need of a bike shop or a caffeine pick-me-up.

A bit further north on Piermont Ave is Pier 701, a restaurant and bar that overlooks the marina. With an outdoor deck boasting views of the Hudson River and Tappan Zee Bridge, it’s a nice spot to break for an alfresco lunch. On the other hand, if you’re destination is Bear Mountain, or ultimately Cold Spring, the better bet is to keep moving and grab something light in Nyack.

Also called River Road, Piermont Ave takes a straight line due north along the river. To the left there are frequent sightings of vividly painted and impressively sized homes whose backyards reach up dramatically into the hillside. Since the two-way road is narrow and popular among cyclists, you’ll often see signs advertising $250 fines for neglecting to ride single file.

River Road passes beneath the Tappan Zee Bridge and enters South Nyack before it terminates shortly at Main Street. Here you’re more or less forced onto N. Broadway where the road passes through the center of town. Like Piermont, but larger, Nyack hosts an array of restaurants, bars, and shops on its main drag. Although I’ve never set foot inside, Nyack Bicycle Outfitters is located along the route on N. Broadway if you’re still looking for a bike shop.

As you proceed along N. Broadway into Upper Nyack, the storefronts fade into the distance as the properties become vaster and residences more spread out. On the corner of N. Broadway and Castle Heights Ave is Hartell’s Grocery, a deli and liquor store combo which is your last food and drink option for a while. The deli is sometimes crowded with lunch-goers ordering burgers, sandwiches, and greasy fare from the hot trays. My rule of thumb is to get a sandwich and a couple of beverages from the cantankerous couple behind the counter and hit the road.

A little further up N. Broadway, the rocky bluffs of Hook Mountain appear as they edge out above the trees towards the river. N. Broadway comes to an end at the foot of this promontory and gives way to the entrance to Nyack Beach State Park.

The riverfront beach with its picnic benches and views across the Hudson is as good a place as any to break for lunch. Adjacent to the parking lot is a building with public restrooms. And at the north end of the beach is the entrance to the Hook Mountain/Nyack Beach Bikeway.

Hook Mountain/Nyack Beach Bikeway

At the halfway point of the ride, the Nyack Beach Bikeway connects the five miles separating Nyack and Haverstraw by way of Hook Mountain. The bikeway doesn’t actually climb over the mountain. Rather, it traces the edge of it.

Hurricane Sandy devastated sections of the trail, shutting down Nyack Beach and its bikeway for several months in 2012/2013. Reconstruction of the park was completed by summer of 2013.

The first section of the bikeway is easy riding along smooth, crushed gravel at river level. Sing Sing Correctional Facility is readily visible across the water in Ossining. After about 1.5 miles, the trail leaves the river and climbs a short hill where, at the top, it splits in two directions. To the left takes you over Hook Mountain towards Rockland State Park and Rockland Lake. To the right follows the bikeway above the river for about 3.5 miles to Haverstraw. The latter route doesn’t have any major hills, but does have a rough and rocky surface. I wouldn’t recommend it without a sturdy bike.

The paved option is the 9W which skirts around the western part of Rockland Lake. If that’s the route you prefer, you’ll need to pick it up back in Upper Nyack at Old Mountain Road.

The bikeway to Haverstraw wrests you from your post-lunch languor as the trail dips and climbs like a roller-coaster, winding and twisting above the river. Towards the end of the trail you’ll arrive at a signpost denoting the area as a treason site, explaining that “within these woods…American General Benedict Arnold…plotted the surrender of the American fortress at West Point.”

Shortly after this historical landmark, the path becomes paved and emerges from the woods onto Haverstraw’s Riverside Ave.

Haverstraw and the ferry

Haverstraw’s claim to fame in the past was brick manufacturing, its economic lifeblood in the years prior to WWII. In fact, many of the famous Brooklyn brownstones you see today were likely made with brick formed by Haverstraw soil and its Hudson River water. But as the brick making industry fell into decline, so did Haverstraw. In recent years, the village has flirted with revitalization efforts focused on the waterfront and downtown area but results are still forthcoming.

As the Nyack Beach Bikeway emerges from Hook Mountain onto Riverside Ave, you’ll find yourself on a small street beset on both sides by rows of modest homes. This southernmost section of Haverstraw is commonly referred to as Dutchtown. The homes on the right overlook the river and are favored with elevated views of Croton-on-Hudson across the way. Up the hill and behind the houses to the left is the old Western Shore Railroad line. These tracks run all the way from Weehawken, NJ to Albany, NY but only approach our bike route for the first time during the Nyack Beach Bikeway’s last leg into Dutchtown. Passenger service was discontinued on this line in the late 1950s. Today it exists as a freight route.

A few houses down on the right is the residence of Ted Ludwiczak. The house is hard to miss as there are dozens of stone-carved faces decorating his porch and front yard. Mr. Ludwiczak has been carving these pieces for over 25 years from his Haverstraw home and several are on permanent display at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.

A bit further down Riverside Ave, Dutchtown gives way to the mammoth Haverstraw stone quarry. The quarry is operated by construction materials and services giant, Tilcon, Inc. The air gets thick with the dust of crushed stone as you pass through the quarry site and alongside mountains of construction aggregates.

The parade of oddities continues with Harbors at Haverstraw, a complex of 21st century luxury townhouses and condominiums built on the riverside. Advertising itself as a riverfront community and “catalyst for renaissance”, the general aesthetics of Harbors at Haverstraw appears to be at odds with the rest of the village. Positioned between the dog-eared downtown and the depressing blight of the quarry, it’s easy to interpret the polish and luster of the condos as a kind of inadvertent Potemkin Village.

Continuing along Riverside Ave, you’ll next pass Girling Drive which leads to the Haverstraw ferry terminal. The ferry is operated by NY Waterway and runs on weekdays only. A ride on the ferry will cost you $3.75 plus a $1 for your bike (which is rarely collected). There is no ticket office, so expect to purchase your ticket aboard the ferry. The 15-minute ride crosses the widest section of the Hudson and ducks beneath Croton Point Park before connecting with the Metro North Railroad in Ossining.

If the ferry is running, and you don’t feel like making the rest of the journey to Bear Mountain, one interesting alternative is to connect with the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail in Ossining and take it to Peekskill. This particular ride – NYC to Haverstraw and Ossining to Peekskill – combines the best of both sides of the river. Otherwise, continue past Girling Drive and make your way towards downtown Haverstraw.

Shortly after the ferry turnoff, Riverside Ave splits into Maple Ave and West St. Following West St. to the right will see it turn into Broadway which crosses the center of town at Main Street. Taking a right on Main will bring you to the uninspired and dilapidated Emeline Park on the riverfront.

Bicycle Route 9 continues north along Broadway and a series of other side streets where bike route signs are well posted. Eventually the route hooks up with Beach Road which passes by the Haverstraw Marina and traces the edge of the waterfront until reaching Stony Point Bay.

Stony Point & Jones Point

Stony Point is a town in northern Rockland County that includes the hamlets of Stony Point, Tomkins Cove, and Jones Point – all of which you will pass through on your ride up to the Bear Mountain Bridge.

Bicycle Route 9 follows the river’s edge north through Haverstraw until it cuts inland at Stony Point Bay. Tomkins Ave passes beneath the Western Shore rail line and climbs up a steady hill to where it joins N. Liberty Drive, or more generally, U.S. 9W. From this point you’re following signs for 9W N for almost four miles until you arrive at Jones Point.

If you’ve done the ride to Peekskill and stopped at Riverfront Green Park, you’ve seen Jones Point and Dunderberg Mountain from across Peekskill Bay. 9W makes a long climb over the point, with a grade similar to Henry Hudson Drive’s “Big Bastard”. Piled on top of the undesirable climb at this point in the ride is the fact that the road’s shoulder largely disappears, making each time a truck whizzes past your body a stressful moment. An imperfect, but better, alternative is the Jones Point Path which can be found at the end of River Road.

At the juncture where 9W begins its ascent over Dunderberg, River Road splits off to the right, entering Jones Point. It follows the river and railroad tracks into the tiny hamlet of homes that share both pleasant views of nearby Peekskill and unsettling views of nearby Indian Point Energy Center across the Hudson.

At the far end of River Road is the entrance to Jones Point Path which connects to 9W on the north side of Dunderberg Mountain. Like the Nyack Beach Bikeway, Hurricane Sandy did some extensive damage to the trail. But unlike the Nyack Beach Bikeway, reconstruction efforts haven’t been as productive.

The beginning of the path is in a poor state of repair. The soft and irregular surface will likely require you to walk your bike a short distance. But don’t be discouraged by the initial conditions as it looks worse than it actually is. After a couple hundred feet the brush thins out, the trail flattens and its surface becomes more texturally consistent. Jones Point Path is unquestionably an unshaven shortcut, but as long as you don’t mind getting your shoes dirty, it’s still a better option than 9W.

After two miles, Jones Point Path rejoins 9W on its final push towards Bear Mountain Bridge. Subsequently, you’ll pass the causeway connecting the mainland to Iona Island, a nature reserve and bird sanctuary surrounded by mudflats and tidal marshes. A bit farther up on the left is the hiking trail to Doodletown, a former settlement of historical significance to the Revolutionary War and modern day ghost town.

Bear Mountain Bridge & Rte 9D to Cold Spring

As you make the last ascent up 9W to the Bear Mountain Bridge, you’ll leave Rockland County behind and enter the town of Highlands, Orange County. Just before reaching the roundabout that connects to the bridge, you’ll spot Hessian Lake on your left. After so much pedaling it’s tempting to dive in, but unfortunately swimming is prohibited. Bear Mountain Inn and Overlook Lodge are located at the southern tip of the lake.

The roundabout at the bridge is a swirl of activity with roads splitting off in all directions – U.S. 6W shoots off to the left and rejoins the Palisades Interstate Parkway, 9W continues north towards West Point, and 6E/202E cross the river. Additionally, there are signs directing bicycle traffic across the bridge as this is where Bicycle Route 9 departs the west side of the Hudson and ventures east.

At the east end of the bridge, the road wishbones in two directions just below the peak of Anthony’s Nose. U.S. 6 runs south to Peekskill and Route 9D, or Bear Mountain-Beacon Hwy, heads north towards Cold Spring and Beacon.

The views off the north side of the bridge are cut short by a bend in the river, but the southern view affords a good look at Iona Island and the Western Shore rail line bisecting it. Logistically, you’re going to want to take the bridge’s north walkway as this will make things easier once you’re on the Westchester side. You can take the south walkway, but you’ll have to dodge traffic coming from two directions instead of one as you try to cross over to Route 9D. Also, be sure to use the sidewalk paths on the Bear Mountain side to access either walkway.

9D is not a spectacular road. The shoulder isn’t very wide and it has its fair share of ruts, but it’s the only game in town on this side of the river. The road to Peekskill is worse and about the same distance as Garrison. All things considered, 9D is the best option.

After a few minutes you’ll pass a crossing to the Appalachian Trail and enter Putnam County. A short distance from here is the turnoff to Metro North’s Manitou Station. As previously mentioned, this station offers only limited train service to NYC on weekends.

*Pop-culture fact: An episode of “Girls” was filmed at Manitou Station.

A couple of miles up the road from Manitou is Garrison, home to the unmistakable Castle Rock estate perched atop Castle Rock Hill. You might also, if you’re lucky, catch a glimpse of West Point through the trees on the other side of the river. The turnoff to Garrison Station is at Lower Station Road where there are clearly posted MTA signs pointing you in the station’s direction.

From Garrison, 9D curves inland around some marshland before hooking back towards Cold Spring. Bicycle Route 9 veers off to the right just before Cold Spring, climbing north into the small village of Nelsonville, and then east where it rejoins Albany Post Road. Fortunately for you, getting to Cold Spring doesn’t require this climb.

Route 9D goes straight to the center of town where you’ll find Whistling Willie’s on the corner of Main Street. Willie’s is a comfortable space that serves above-average pub fare with a great beer selection, including many Hudson Valley brews. There are also other options along Main Street if you feel like exploring.

Cold Spring Station is located on the river at the bottom of the hill just south of Main Street. Main Street is cut in half by the railroad tracks, which also separates the waterfront from the rest of the village. In order to access both the waterfront and the train station you must either use the tunnel at the end of Main (which involves stairs), or take Lunn Terrace over the tracks. Check out Cold Spring Depot next to the tunnel if you’re looking for an apr├Ęs-dinner ice cream.

A one-way, off-peak ticket to Grand Central costs $13.25. Direct trains run every hour and take about 80 minutes, although trains after 10pm may require a transfer at Croton-Harmon Station.

The promenade in front of the Hudson House Inn at the end of Main Street has nice views of West Point to the southwest and Storm King Mountain directly across the river. At night, you can make out the beams of cars carefully crawling their way along the contours of Storm King Highway, continuing north on roads yet explored.

Kindly direct any comments, questions, updates, restaurant recommendations, praise, or cathartic rantings to velotrope@gmail.com.

NYC to Bear Mountain Cue Sheet

STARTING POINT: Hudson River Greenway @ W. 181st Street pedestrian footbridge

Key: R=RIGHT, L=LEFT, S=STRAIGHT, X=CROSS, bL = BEAR LEFT, qR = QUICK RIGHT

Download PDF

mile: turn: street/trail: distance: Notes:
0.00 X Henry Hudson Parkway 150 ft use pedestrian footbridge to cross parkway
0.00 R Riverside Drive 260 ft
0.1 L W. 181st Street 0.2 mi
0.3 R Fort Washington Ave 0.2 mi pass beneath I-95
0.5 R W. 177th Street 0.1 mi
0.6 R Cabrini Blvd 285 ft
0.6 L W. 178th Street 170 ft use sidewalk as you’ll be riding against traffic
0.7 L GWB south walkway 1.2 mi cross Hudson River
1.9 L Hudson Terrace/County Rd 505 0.5 mi use sidewalk path that runs downhill alongside Hudson Terrace (you will be going south)
2.4 L Henry Hudson Dr 8.2 mi
10.6 L Alpine Approach Rd 0.1 mi
10.7 R Rte 9W 1.7 mi at traffic light
12.4 R/X Palisades Interstate Pkwy 350 ft use staircase on right shortly after Ruckman Rd
12.45 L Forest View Trail 350 ft stay on trail closest to Palisades Interstate Pkwy and emerge from the woods onto exit shoulder
12.5 R State Line Lookout Rd 0.5 mi
13.0 S Old Rte 9W 1.1 mi paved but rough surface
14.1 R Ludlow Ln 0.2 mi parallel to Rte 9W, enter Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory campus
14.3 bR Ludlow Ln 0.7 mi
15.0 L Washington Spring Rd 0.1 mi
15.1 bR Corsett Ln 150 ft
15.1 bR Woods Road 0.3 mi
15.4 bL Woods Road 0.1 mi
15.5 R Unknown road 225 ft Bill Murray’s house at end of this road
15.5 L Trail approach to Tallman Mountain State Park 0.1 mi unpaved trail leads to Tallman Mountain bike trail
15.6 R Tallman Mountain trail 1.0 mi
16.6 bR Tallman Mountain trail 0.1 mi
16.7 R Tallman Mountain trail 0.1 mi
16.8 bR Tallman Mountain trail 0.5 mi Piermont Marsh on right
17.3 R Piermont Ave/River Rd 3.8 mi
21.1 L Main Street 0.1 mi
21.2 R N. Broadway Ave 2.0 mi
23.2 R N. Broadway Ave 0.3 mi enter Nyack Beach State Park
23.5 S Hook Mt/Nyack Beach Bikeway 1.4 mi
24.9 bR Hook Mt/Nyack Beach Bikeway 3.5 mi to Haverstraw
28.4 S Riverside Ave 1.2 mi pass ferry port (Girling Dr)
29.6 R West Street 0.4 mi
30.0 S Broadway 0.6 mi West St. becomes Broadway after Main St.
30.6 bR Samsondale Ave 0.3 mi
30.9 R Tanneyanns Ln 0.3 mi
31.2 R Railroad Ave 0.1 mi
31.3 bL Beach Rd/River Rd/Grassy Point Rd 2.0 mi
33.3 R Beach Rd 0.4 mi
33.7 L Tomkins Ave 0.4 mi
34.1 R N. Liberty Dr/202E/9W 3.9 mi
38.0 bR River Road 0.5 mi
38.5 S Jones Point Path 1.9 mi find path entrance at end of River Rd. Condition of trail may require initial walking of bike
40.4 R 202E/9W 1.7 mi
42.1 R Bear Mountain Bridge 0.6 mi use north walkway if possible, cross Hudson River
42.7 bL NY-9D/Bear Mountain-Beacon Hwy 8.6 mi
51.3 L Main Street 0.3 mi
51.6 L Lunn Terrace 0.1 mi cross over railroad tracks
51.7 L Market Street 300 ft
51.75 END Arrive Cold Spring Station END Cold Spring Station on left
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