We’re all looking for an easy, local escape these days and what better way than by bike? This itinerary whisks you out of New York City to the exotic lands of Westchester for a beginner friendly 2 day bikepacking trip. Never been bike touring or bike packing before? Head over to our bikepacking page to find an intro video and more tips and tricks.
#1 Leave New York City
This route departs from northern border of NYC in the Woodlawn section in the Bronx. Use the NYC Bike map to navigate to that spot from your neighborhood. You can also hop on Metro-North or the 4 train to Woodlawn.
Ride north along Bronx River Road until reaching the small town of Bronxville, stopping at Slave to the Grind Coffee Bar for some snacks and coffee for the early part of the trip. It’s also advisable to pick up some freshly ground coffee for the next morning at camp.
#2 Bike the South & North County Trailways
From Bronxville, head West on Palmer Road into Yonkers. This will connect to the car-free South County Trailway. Ride north on the Trailway passing through Ardsley and Greenburgh. This section of trail features many small birdhouses posted along the route, so keep your eyes peeled for woodpeckers and other assorted aviary attractions. This shaded section of trail is uninterrupted until reaching Elmsford, where the South County Trailway becomes the North County Trailway.
After making your way across the intersection in Elmsford, the North County Trailway snakes its way further north alongside the Saw Mill River Parkway. Passing through the towns of Hawthorne and Pleasantville, the Trailway joins up with Route 100 and is a bit more exposed to traffic. There is ample shoulder space, but its best to stay aware of traffic.
#3 Stop for Lunch in Millwood, New York
After all this riding, you might be thinking about lunch. Since the options in Elmsford are limited, we recommend continuing on to Millwood to stop for lunch. Rocky’s Deli offers great classic sandwiches while the DeCicco & Sons Supermarket across the street has options to accommodate for everyone from baked goods to sushi.
Rolling out from lunch, you can get back onto the Trailway heading north leading up into the banks of the New Croton Reservoir. Here you will find the Putnam Division Bridge, a steel truss railway bridge built in the early 1900’s. Make sure to stop here for a few photos, I always do! This is the final section of the trail before heading out onto public roads.
#4 The Final Stretch
With about 10 miles left to get to camp, the route turns off the trail to open roads. Even those these roads are listed as bike routes with “Share the Road” signage to remind motorists, I recommend using caution and staying visible. This section of the ride also happens to feature more abrupt changes in elevation, so prepare to do some climbing.
Peeling off the North County Trailway at RT118 (see Point F on our Google Map!), you will be cruising up a hill, ending at the intersection of RT100. Make a left, riding along the wide shoulder with the reservoir to your right for some time. The rolling hills can make for some exciting descents, with bits of gravel pinging off your bike frame like music.
At the next large intersection, make a right turn onto RT35 in Katonah. This is the last public road you’ll be riding on, but it does get considerably narrower and its mostly uphill. Talk about saving the best for last! After getting over the last hill, you will pass by a very rustic looking bait and tackle shop on the right, then make the turn at Old Post Road in Cross River where you should see your destination: Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.
#5 Camping at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation
Make the left into Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, where you will come upon the office. Here’s where you can book your campsite. The park has many tent sites available for $40 per night and several shelter sites with lean-tos with built in fireplaces for $50. The office also sells bundles of firewood, which they will drop off at your campsite if you ask nicely.
Now that you have arrived, I would personally recommend opening a that beer you had tucked away in your handlebar bag as a reward for your hard work. Next, find your campsite and get started setting up your shelter. If you brought all your supplies with you, have fun and relax for the evening. If you forgot something, need food or want some extra campfire beers, don’t worry! There are several stores within biking distance. Immediately outside the park entrance is a 24-hour deli with basic food and drink options. Up the hill on RT121 is a shopping center with a Greenway Supermarket, wine shop and several take out restaurants.
- The park office closes at 4:30 PM and they DO NOT take reservations over the phone. If you think that you may arrive at the park past this time, call the office and they may help you make alternate arrangements.
- COVID-19 Adjustments: at the time of writing this, the park’s restroom and shower facilities were off limits. There are portable restrooms located throughout the park. If you need to refill your water bottles for cooking/coffee/drinking, please consult the park office when arriving to fill up with them, or bring a water filtration system and fill up at the river.
- Be mindful that Ward Pound Ridge Reservation is a carry in-carry out facility, so any trash generated must be packed out in the morning.
- The park features lovely picnic areas alongside the banks of Cross River, and I would wholeheartedly recommend dipping your feet in at sunset!
Day 2 Options:
After a hopefully restful sleep, fire up your coffee kit and start breaking down camp. If you don’t have any obligations for the day, you can ride the reverse route home. But if you need to get back to the real world in a hurry, the Katonah Metro-North railway station is a 30-minute ride from camp.