Start at the Lakes, and Ride Forever.
Take a look at any bike trail map Westchester County, and you grasp what cyclists have known all along: that the Tarrytown Lakes (and Tarrytown in general) sits at the center of a recreation hub, with long-distance trails, paved and unpaved, fanning out from the area in all directions.
Consider the routes. Leaving from the lakes and heading north, the North County Trailway follows the former route of the New York Putnam railroad for 22 miles, seamlessly continuing as the (also paved) Putnam Trail to Brewster, New York’s Metro-North train station, for a total distance of 31 miles.*
Or, hop on the South County Trailway from the lakes, and follow it south through some surprisingly-pretty urban forest, all the way to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. It ends abruptly where the “Old Put” begins, and you’ll want a hybrid bike (not a road bike) to complete this section, but it you do, you can take the Old Put to the Moshulu Greenway all the way to City Island in the Bronx.
Speaking of hybrid bikes: If your wheels aren’t of the super-thin variety, consider using the Andre Brook Trail to hook up to the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail˚in Sleepy Hollow. From there, it’s a forested, unpaved 10-mile ride to one of the most scenic man-made wonders in New York State: The New Croton Dam. (You can also ride south on the OCA, taking it through the wooded backyards and quaint villages of the Rivertown chain. This route goes all the way to New York, but if you make the Untermyer Gardens in Yonkers your destination, that’s more than a full day. Board the Metro-North train back to Tarrytown afterwards to avoid retracing your route).
And consider the big changes coming to the bike and trail network by 2018. When the new Tappan Zee Bridge opens in 2018, the bikeway across the Hudson will mean that, for the first time, there’s a bike route across the river that connects the rivertowns of Nyack and Tarrytown. It means that, for the first time, bikers following the palisades on the western side of the Hudson will have access to the train stations, bike paths and village centers on the east side, enabling routes and loops of endless variety.
Note: Governor Cuomo has gotten the budget to complete the 750-mile Empire State Trail., so you’ll be able to bike from New York City to Buffalo, through Tarrytown.
And it will mean that it will be possible for a bike rider to complete this epic bike tour: start pedaling from Liberty State Park in New Jersey, cross the Hudson into Tarrytown, bike to the Brewster train station, catch the train to Wassaic and the start of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail, and continue to camping and hiking in Taconic State Park or, eventually, the historic village of Chatham, New York, on the Massachusetts border — for a total of 147 miles, nearly all of them on paved, dedicated bike path (can we hear it for the Immigrant Trail? The Liberty-Berkshire Trail? The Hudson History Trail?
Or, start at Liberty State Park in New Jersey, and follow the above route until you get to Brewster. Sometime in 2018, a new route (see this Empire State Trail article) from Brewster to Hopewell Junction, New York, will open up, and you’ll be able to continue west. Still following paved off-road bike path, you’ll pick up some wonderfully scenic country. At Hopewell Junction, the Dutchess Rail Trail continues to the breathtaking Walkway Over the Hudson, across the river and onto the Hudson Valley Rail Trail. Through New Palz, and on up to Kingston, where you can either continue to Buffalo, New York, or head home on the Amtrak.
The Tarrytown Lakes Park is where you jump on an off this incredible network of trails. It’s the beating heart at the center of it all, and it’s just up the hill from the train station in Tarrytown.
*want to keep going? Board the Metro-North train in Brewster with your bike (pick up a bike pass for $5.00, good for a lifetime, from any ticket window, or beforehand) and take the train north to the end of the line in Wassaic. The Harlem Valley Rail Trail, another paved bike path, leaves right from the Wassaic station, heading north through Amenia and Millerton. If you don’t mind a brief on-road section from Millerton to Under Mountain Road in Boston Corners, you can then pick up the trail and go all the way to Taconic State Park in Hillsdale to hike and spend the night at the campground there. Camping supplies, a bike shop and a deli are right across the street from the park.