Bike Touring New York’s Hudson Valley Greenway Trail
The Hudson Valley Greenway Trail
The Hudson Valley Greenway Trail makes for the perfect long weekend getaway from New York City. Start your journey in the same place that so many Americans journeys began; just outside of Ellis Island with views of the Statue of Liberty at The Battery in Lower Manhattan. Walk or bike the trail along the Hudson River through New York City, traveling upstate and crossing the Hudson River in historic small towns like Poughkeepsie and Kingston before ending in the State Capitol in Albany.
When to visit and where to stay on the Hudson Valley Greenway Trail
The best time to visit the Hudson Valley is during the summer months from May to August, or experience the fall in New York by planning your trip between September and peak foliage in early October. Empire State Trail Rentals is constructing campgrounds across the Hudson Valley Greenway Trail, with eight campgrounds to open by 2022. Tent camp, glamp, or stay indoors at one of our planned campgrounds or rest in an Airbnb in one of the many towns along the way.
Bike Touring the Hudson Valley Greenway
Arguably the best way to experience the Hudson Valley Greenway Trail is by bike touring the trail in its entirety. Bike touring is any multi-day bike ride, where you are traveling from one place to another on mainly paved or on road conditions. Bike touring includes transporting your personal items and even camping gear on your bike with you. The Hudson Valley Greenway Trail is primarily a paved off-road trail, with some city and on-road biking throughout. The trail is fairly flat considering the overall length, total elevation varies, descending a total of 3,684 feet and ascending a total of 3,786 feet.
What to pack for a bike tour on the Hudson Valley Greenway Trail
Your needs on the trail will depend on what kind of bike tour you are taking. If you are taking a “credit card” tour where you plan to stop and eat at dining establishments in the many towns and cities along the way while staying in Airbnb’s, bed and breakfasts, or hotels, you will need much less equipment. Check out the Empire State Trail Rentals website for all the equipment you need.
Basic gear needed for any bike touring trip includes:
A Bike & Helmet
Most road or mountain bikes will work, changes can be made to better suit them for touring including changing the gears, adding wider tires, and front or rear racks to hold gear. If you are in the market to invest in a bike, they make touring bikes geared for on-road riding and adventure touring bikes with similar features seen in mountain bikes.
Since the Hudson Valley Greenway Trail is flat and approximately 80% paved, we recommend a bike with a thinner tire such as a road, gravel, hybrid, or commuter bike as this will give you more efficiency on the trail.
Bike touring bags come in various sizes including panniers, saddlebags, and handlebar bags. The storage you will need will depend on the accommodations and food you plan on for your bike tour. Plan on investing in at least 2-3 panniers.
Other items you will need include:
First Aid Kit
Water Bottles and Cages
Sunscreen, insect repellent, and personal care items
Identification, insurance, and money
A hydration pack
Head and tail lights
GPS, cell phone, camera, portable charger
Straps, bungee cords, and duct tape
*For those who plan to camp
Tent or camping hammock
Sleeping bag and pad
Stove, fuel, and cook set
You will want to pack seasonally appropriate athletic clothing for your bike tour. Though the best time of the year to visit the trail is between May and October, the temperature can vary dramatically, and rain is always a possibility. Synthetic and wool fabrics are best, most hiking and workout gear will work well. You do not need a ton of bike-specific clothing though you will want to invest in some padded bike shorts. Consider packing clothing that can do double duty, serving utilitarian needs on the trail and civilian needs when you are relaxing or in town. Additional items you may want to consider include gloves, cycling socks, A buff or bandana, raincoat, visibility vest, a hat, and sun-protective clothing.
Hudson Valley Bike Tour Itinerary
For a 4-day, three-night trip it is recommended that you ride roughly 50 miles a day, specific mileage will be outlined in the itinerary described below. Much of your 4-day trip will be on Rail Trail sections of the Hudson Valley Greenway. Rail Trails are disused railways converted into multi-use paths. Rail trails serve a modern purpose for outdoor recreation while tying in the industrial history and historical areas throughout the state.
Day 1: Manhattan to Carmel – Sections 1-7
(~64 miles, 6.0-7.5 hours)
Day one of your trip on the Hudson Valley Greenway will start in lower Manhattan at The Battery surrounded by iconic symbols of New York including the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the 9/11 Memorial, and One World Trade Center. One of the most popular places to bike, walk, and run in New York City, The Manhattan Greenway Trail guides you along the Hudson River north to Inwood Hill. A short on-road section will lead you through the northern tip of Manhattan, this section is best suited for those comfortable riding in city traffic. After three miles of denser city biking the trail opens up to an off-road, paved, park-like trail that extends to Westchester and the Putnam Trailway Rail Line. You will end your first day of bike touring at the planned Empire State Trail Rental campground in Carmel NY.
Day 2: Carmel to Lloyd – Sections 7-11
(~50 miles, 4.5-5.5 hours)
The second day of your trip on the Empire State Trail will consist almost entirely of paved rail-trails in the Upstate region spanning from Carmel to Lloyd. This section is sprinkled with small lakes, reservoirs, and creeks, and includes a historic train depot. The Dutchess Rail Trail leads you through the town of Poughkeepsie, into the newly revived city center, and onto the 1.5-mile Walkway Over The Hudson. The Walkway was once a train bridge and now serves as a tourist attraction that has spawned a revitalization of the post-industrial city of Poughkeepsie. End your day just off the Walkway Over The Hudson at the second planned Empire State Trail Rental campground in Lloyd Ny.
Day 3: Lloyd to Hudson – Sections 11-16
(~55 miles, 5-7 hours)
The third day of your trip on the Empire State Trail will lead you from your campsite in Lloyd to the Hudson NY area. Early on in the day on section 12, you will encounter cinder surface conditions on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail. Pass under a railroad trestle along the scenic trail before entering the city of Kingston NY and a combination of off and on-road connections. The day will end with an on-road section that leads from Kingston to Hudson NY. This section is appropriate for experienced bikers used to riding next to traffic. The ending of your day and overall mileage for day three will differ depending on where you choose to stay on the third night.
We recommend staying at an Airbnb in the city of Hudson, NY. There are multiple options available a short distance from the main on-road section of the trail like this, this, or this. Staying in the city of Hudson would make your third-day mileage around 50 miles and the remaining distance to Albany around 30 miles.
Day 4: Hudson NY area to Albany – Sections 16-20
(~35 miles, 3.5-4.5 hours)
Assuming you stayed in Hudson, you will begin day four on road in the city before starting on the Albany Hudson Electric Trail. The Albany Hudson Electric Trail which opened in 2021 consists mainly of paved trails, with some on-road intersections. The Hudson Valley Greenway section of the Empire State Trail ends just across the Hudson River from downtown Albany. Take some time to explore the state capital or go to the Amtrak station just off the end of the trail to return to Manhattan.
Whether you choose to bike tour the Hudson Valley Greenway section of the Empire State Trail in its entirety or hop on a single section at the many trailheads the Empire State Trail is a great new way to explore all that New York State has to offer. Though this article mainly talked about bike touring the trail, it is well suited for hiking, walking, and single-day rides. Stay tuned for more articles about hiking, biking, and camping from Empire State Trail Rentals by signing up for our email list below.