MANHATTAN WATERFRONT GREENWAY:
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK
-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-
Last Updated: April 17, 2016
Length: Greenway circuit; 32 miles
Difficulty: Easy. The finished off-road greenway is paved and mostly flat.
Difficult. The on-road sections that connect the unfinished greenway are recommended for cyclists experienced in city street riding.
Starting from the Harlem 125th St Station; Take the Metro North train or the NYC Subway's "Green Line" to the Harlem 125th St Station. To connect to the Greenway, you'll need to ride on-road. Not recommended for kids on bikes.
To reach the east side of the Manhattan Greenway; Head south to 120th St. Follow 120th St east via a bike lane to a footbridge over FDR Drive and the Greenway along the Harlem River. This is about a 1 mile on-road detour.
To reach the northern or western side of the Greenway; Head south to 119th St. Follow 119th St west via a bike lane to St. Nicholas Ave and head right (see directions below). To reach the west side of the Greenway, take 125th St west to St. Clair and then the Greenway.
Starting from Battery Park: Take the NYC Subway's "Red Line" to South Ferry Station. Hop right onto the trail and head either northwest along the Hudson River or northeast along the East River.
For more information visit; Metro North Railroad . If you click on the individual stations, they have available both directions and maps. For information concerning the NYC Subway visit; NYC SUBWAY .
The Manhattan Waterfront Greenway is a 32-mile route that circumnavigates the island of Manhattan. Along the east side of Manhattan it utilizes the Harlem River Greenway and East River Greenway. Along the west side of Manhattan it utilizes the Hudson River Greenway and Hudson River Esplanade. At the southern tip of Manhattan the Greenway travels through Battery Park. Wherever possible, it runs along the shoreline and thus reclaims the waterfront for pedestrians, cyclists, roller blades and other users of non-motorized transportation. Most portions of the greenway are off-street paths through parks or other recreational spaces. Greenway-connectors run on-street, where waterfront access is not currently possible. Currently, the Hudson River Greenway on the west side is the most complete and uninterrupted section, as well as, the lower east side section along the East River Greenway. The northern section has a long on-road detour from 125th St up to 155th St.
The Manhattan Waterfront Greenway is part of the Empire State Trail , a continuous 750-mile route spanning the state from New York City to Canada and Buffalo to Albany, creating the longest multi-use state trail in the nation. Starting from Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan, the Empire State Trail follows the Hudson River Greenway and Hudson River Esplanade north along the Hudson River to Inwood Hill Park where it continues north along a 3 mile on-road route to Van Cortlandt Park. Here it follows the Old Putnam Rail Trail north.
Starting from the East River Greenway at 120th St; The East River Greenway travels along the east side of Manhattan alongside the East Rivers.
Note; Heading north, the trail currently ends after only a 1/4 mile just below the RFK Bridge. Future plans call for continuing the trail north and connecting into the Harlem River Greenway.
Heading south, the East River Greenway consists of cement pavers and travels between the river and FDR Drive. After only a 1/2 mile, a pedestrian bridge crosses over FDR Drive to Jefferson Park. At a mile, another pedestrian bridge crosses the river over to Randall's Island Park, where you can access more bike trails.
Note; A 4.5 mile waterfront pathway circles the island. For more information visit; RANDALL'S ISLAND PARK .
Just past Randall's Island, the Harlem River flows into the East River. The small island in the river is Mill Rock Park. At about 1.9 miles you'll pass through Carl Schurz Park. A nice reprieve from the traffic noise as FDR Drive is diverted underneath the park. A nice promenade overlooks the river, where you'll get a great view of the lighthouse on the northern tip of Roosevelt Island. To your left is the RFK Bridge over to Queens and behind it the Amtrak train bridge. After about 2 1/4 miles you'll come to a set of stairs leading down to a lower level of the Greenway. If your biking, their is a metal rail running along the edge of the stairs made to guide your bike tires down the stairs.
Note; If you don't feel comfortable taking your bike down 3 flights of stairs you can detour around this section by heading out along 81st St and taking a left down East End Ave and the a left back to the Greenway along 78th St.
before the Queensboro Bridge, you'll need to detour 2 miles on-road
around the unfinished Greenway section that passes in front of the United
Nations building. (As
of 2016 this section is still under construction). Not recommended
for kids on bikes. Head up the ramp past the East River Heliport Park.
Keep an eye out for the red Roosevelt Island Tram as it travels alongside
the bridge. This brings
you out to 60th and York St.
Note; A 3.8 mile trail circles Roosevelt Island. You can access the island via the Roosevelt Island Bridge from Queens or from the ROOSEVELT ISLAND TRAM . Head west up 60th St to access both the Queensboro Bridge over to Queens or the Roosevelt Island Tram. See; ROOSEVELT ISLAND GREENWAY .
Hang a left along York St. There are round, green "greenway route" signs all along this detour. From York St, turn right down 55th St (Bike lane), then left along 2nd Ave. Take another left when you reach 38th St and then a right alongside and underneath FDR Drive. A crosswalk over to the trail is at the end of 34th St. This brings you back to the Greenway at 5.5 miles.
Note; To complete this on-road detour coming from the south; Use 36th St to 1st Ave to 54th St. These are one-way streets.
Note; Heading north, the trail currently ends after less then a 1/4 mile.
Continuing south, the Greenway travels underneath FDR Drive. At 5.8 miles the Greenway detours around a building on a bike lane. You'll pass by Stuyvesant Cove Park and come back alongside the East River at 6.4 miles. Good view of UN building. You travel alongside East River Park and pass by 3 pedestrian bridges over FDR Drive before traveling underneath the Williamsburg Bridge and Delancy St footbridge at 7 3/4 miles. Keep an eye out on your left for the quirky "harp seal" statues. After leaving behind the park, the Greenway travels underneath FDR Drive along a bike lane. 8 3/4 miles brings you back along the river with views of the Manhattan Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge behind it. After passing below the Manhattan Bridge, you'll approach the Brooklyn Bridge at 9.3 miles.
Note; I highly recommend a quick side trip up to the Brooklyn Bridge from here. Its about a mile to the first observation platform on top of the bridge (the bike trail travels above the vehicle lanes). Just follow the "Bridge" signs on your right off the Greenway. You can ride over the bridge into Queens if you wish. The bridge is over a mile long.
Continuing south, you pass by Pier 17, then SOUTH STREET SEAPORT which can get very congested. You'll pass by the GOVERNORS ISLAND TERMINAL and come to the STATEN ISLAND FERRY TERMINAL at 10.4 miles.
Note; The NYC Subways South Ferry Station is located here.
Head around the terminal to Battery Park and the southern tip of Manhattan. From here, the Greenway vastly improves, with no on-road detours until you reach the top of Manhattan. The Greenway travels through the park, which includes the NPS's CASTLE CLINTON NM . You can buy tickets here for the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Ferry. Restrooms are also located here. After passing through the park you'll come to Battery Pl and West St at 11.4 miles.
Note; You have two options from here. A. You can cross the street and get right on the "Bikeway Express". That is what I call this part of the Hudson River Greenway that runs up along the west side of Manhattan, because it reminds me of an expressway. This straight trail has a white line separating the lanes, crosswalks for pedestrians and even red lights (shaped like bikes). Warning! Serious bikers tend to use this trail and cruise at a high speed. Not the best choice for little kids on bikes. B. The second option and the route we chose takes you along the waterfront through meandering parks on the Hudson River Esplanade. You eventually return to the Hudson River Greenway, where you can loop back or continue north.
Turn left along Battery Pl, then left out along the waterfront along the Hudson River Esplanade. This area is called Battery Park City and contains several parks. Great views of the Statue of Liberty. The Museum of Jewish Heritage is situated here. Restrooms are also located here. The trail separates for pedestrians and bikers along part of the Greenway. You'll pass by the WORLD FINANCIAL CENTER FERRY TERMINAL at 12.1 miles and return to the Hudson River Greenway after 12.6 miles. Turn right if you wish to return to Battery Park, otherwise head left. Be sure to keep to the right of the trail unless your passing. The Greenway travels between West St (Route 9A) along your right and the Hudson River on your left. Much easier access to the city along the west side then the east side. You'll start to encounter pockets of the Hudson River Park along your left at 12.9 miles. The trails in the park are restricted to pedestrians for the most part. When you come opposite 14th St at about 14.4 miles you'll spot part of the HIGH LINE , an old elevated rail line that runs 1.5 miles from Gansevoort St to the 30th St Rail Yards. It is currently being converted to a public promenade that will include access systems (stairs and elevators), pathways, plantings, seating, lighting, safety enhancements and other features. Next you'll pass by Pier 59 and the CHELSEA PIERS Sports and Entertainment Complex. You'll pass by the 30th Street Rail Yards and end of the High Line at 15.3 miles. Another mile takes you past the USS INTREPID MUSEUM . At around 16.9 miles the Greenway travels below the Henry Hudson Parkway and past the Dewitt Clinton Park where there is an old locomotive. The Greenway then travels between the river and the Parkway. Riverside Park parallels the trail on your right starting near 72nd St. A short detour away from the river currently starts up by 83rd St where you head up to Riverside Park and head left. The park is actually built over the rail line for Amtrak, which runs underneath you through a tunnel. Listen for the train whistles. At 18.6 miles, look up to your right and spot Grants Tomb. When you come to a playground and restrooms on your right the trail merges. Bear left to a side trail that will take you back down to the Greenway. Again the trail travels between the river and the Parkway. A tunnel over to 104th St at 19.3 miles. You'll come to St Clair at 20.8 miles and West Harlem Piers Park.
Note; From here you can shorten your trip by traveling across Manhattan via St Clair to 125th St and back to the Harlem 125th St Station, a 1.7 mile trek. Only recommended for experienced cyclists as there is no bike lane.
After passing by the park, bear right underneath
the Pkwy and rejoin the trail as it heads away from the river. You'll travel
alongside the railroad and return along the river at 21.7 miles by Riverside
Park. Some great views of the George Washington Bridge. There is
parking available in this park off the Pkwy. At 22.7 miles you'll come to a
steel fence. Turn right in front of the fence and then left along the trail. The
railroad will be along your right and ball fields on your left. The trail then
returns alongside the river. At 23 1/4 you'll pass by some restrooms and a
pedestrian bridge over to 165th St. A highlight of this section comes as you
pass below the GW Bridge at 23.5 miles in Fort Washington Park.
A stone-dust trail will take you over to the "Little Red
Lighthouse" that sits perched on the Hudson River directly below
the bridge. It was built in 1921. Across the river in NJ are the cliffs of the Palisades.
A steep hill takes you away from the bridge and river. Great views when you
level out. Cross a bridge over the railroad tracks and travel through a tunnel
and up another hill. This will bring you alongside the Pkwy. After 24 miles pass
another pedestrian bridge over to 181st St. Check out the retaining wall across
the Pkwy. Looks like a castle wall. On your left you'll pass by a white open pavilion
with Greek columns. This was an old pullover for the Pkwy. Great views of the
river far below. The trail heads downhill. To your right across the Pkwy is Fort
Tyron Park. You'll
come to a set of stairs on your left that lead down to Riverside Drive. Continue
straight where a ramp takes you down to Dyckman
St and head left underneath the Pkwy. This brings you to La Marina at 25.6 miles.
You have 4 options from this point;
You can head east
on-road to connect to the Harlem River Greenway and begin your trek South;
along Dyckman St (Bike Lane available for
part of the route) for 0.9 miles and you'll come to the
junction of Dyckman St and 10th Ave.
ahead is Harlem River Drive. The
paved Harlem River Greenway picks
up on the eastern side of Harlem River Drive and
You can head south to
check out a new section of the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway; [This
route dead end, so you'll have to re-trace your route back to Dyckman St. Worth
the short detour though] Head
left past La
Marina along the paved trail as it
travels between the river and RR tracks before dead-ending after 1 mile. Future
plans call for continuing the trail south to the George Washington Bridge where
it will connect into the existing trail. I have not yet
checked out this section.
You can continue
north through Inwood Hill Park to the tip of Manhattan;
[This route dead ends where the Harlem River forms off the Hudson
River so you'll have to re-trace your route back to Dyckman St. Worth the
short detour though] Head north into Inwood Hill Park. Follow the paved trail which
Continuing straight the trail
brings you alongside the railroad tracks to a pedestrian bridge over the tracks
after 0.5 miles. A trail then continues through the woods to the Henry Hudson
Bridge, where you cross the Hudson River to Henry Hudson Pkwy W after 1.1 miles. I
have not yet checked out this section.
Heading left brings you
alongside the river past ball fields and picnic tables to an overlook at 0.8
miles of the Hudson and Harlem
Rivers where they meet. The RR Bridge crosses the river here as well.
IV. You can take a detour to check out the Broadway “Lift-Stay” Bridge over the Harlem River; [After checking out the bridge you’ll head south on-road to connect with the Harlem River Greenway] Head east along Dyckman St (Bike Lane). On your left you'll pass by Payson Playground where restrooms are available. Turn left up Seaman Ave, which also has a bike lane and you'll travel along the eastern side of Inwood Hill Park. In the distance is the Henry Hudson Bridge. Hang a right on 218th St, which also has a bike lane and then a left up Broadway to the BROADWAY BRIDGE . This is a 1.3 mile trip. The Broadway Bridge crosses the Harlem River Ship Canal between Inwood and Marble Hill, includes a Subway Line over the top of the bridge and is a Lift-Stay type bridge. If you cross over the bridge you can connect to the Mosholu-Pelham Greenway and the Old Putnam Rail Trail located in Van Cortlandt Park via on-road routes. To return to the Harlem River Greenway head back along Broadway and follow 10th Ave south to the junction of Dyckman St. Straight ahead is Harlem River Drive. The paved Harlem River Greenway picks up on the eastern side of Harlem River Drive and heads South.
choosing any of the above options (we combined options
II -IV) you'll end up along the eastern
side of Manhattan at the junction of Dyckman St and 10th Ave.
Straight ahead is Harlem River Drive. For mileage purposes, I'm using the
shortest route (option I), thus making the trip count 26.2 miles to this point.
The paved Harlem River Greenway picks
up on the eastern side of Harlem River Drive and
Note; From here you may also access the paths through Highbridge Park, check out the High Bridge, which was built as a conduit to bring the City water from the Croton Aqueduct and re-join the Harlem River Greenway at the junction of W 155th St and Harlem River Driveway. I haven’t checked out this section yet, so I’m not 100% sure of the route. Follow the paved path along the western side of Harlem River Drive into Highbridge Park heading South. SEE MAP. The High Bridge was built as a conduit to bring the City water form the Croton Aqueduct. Originally, High Bridge featured massive stone arches (like Roman aqueducts had) for its entire length. The arches survive on the Bronx side, but the steel span was constructed in the 20s to allow navigation on the Harlem River. For more information visit; OLD CROTON AQUEDUCT TRAIL .
For mileage purposes, I'm using the shortest route
(option I), thus making the
trip count 26.2 miles to this point. Follow the Harlem
River Greenway south and you'll come
alongside the Harlem River at Sherman Creek Park. This section of
the trail starts out tree lined and shaded but soon loses most of its greenery
as it travels between the river and Harlem River Drive. You'll travel underneath
the Washington Bridge at 27.1 miles, followed by the Alexander
Hamilton Bridge and finally the High Bridge. High Bridge Park and High Bridge
Water Tower are up to your right. The
trail then leaves the river behind, crossing Harlem River Drive via a pedestrian
bridge and traveling uphill alongside Harlem River Driveway. Use
Caution at the end of the bridge as you must cross over an exit ramp to a
sidewalk. The sidewalk quickly gives way to a protected Bike Lane. This will
bring you to 155th St. Use the cross-light on your right to cross over the
entrance ramp to Edgecombe Ave at 28.6 miles.
Note; If you head right up Edgecombe Ave you'll travel alongside High Bridge
Park. After 0.5 miles you’ll pick up a paved path on your right which
leads to the High Bridge.
Cross over 155th S to St Nickolas Ave where you’ll find a bike lane. Continue south along St Nickolas Ave.
Note; When you reach W 145th St you can
detour back to the Harlem
River Greenway. The Greenway is still
fragmented and I have not yet checked out this section.
Follow W 145th St left (east) for 0.5 miles to Malcolm X Blvd (No
I believe the Greenway currently (April 2016)
ends below the 145th St Bridge with access blocked by Harlem River
So head right along Malcolm X Blvd to W 142nd St and turn
left. Cross 5th Ave to Madison Ave and a pedestrian bridge on your
left will take you across Harlem River Drive to the Harlem
River Greenway after 1 mile. Head right (I
believe the Greenway currently ends below the 145th St Bridge)
along the narrow path that travels between the river and Drive. After traveling
underneath the Madison Ave Bridge the trail widens. After traveling underneath a
RR Bridge at 1.5 miles I believe the Greenway is
currently under construction.
You’ll need to take the pedestrian bridge on your right back over Harlem River
Drive to Madison Ave. Head left, then left again down 135th St to
park Ave and head right. Follow Park Ave to the Harlem 125th St Station
at 2.3 miles. To reach the East
River Greenway and complete your loop continue south to 120th St. Head left on 120th St (Bike Lane)
to a footbridge over FDR Drive and the East
River Greenway along the Harlem River. This is about a 32 mile
Continuing south along St
Nickolas Ave. After crossing over 141st St you'll travel past St Nicolas Park.
Restrooms are available in the park along this section and best of all, no
streets cross your path until you reach 128th St. At 124th St, pay attention as
St Nickolas Ave bears left, not straight. Turn left when you reach 120th St
(119th St if you’re traveling in the opposite direction) again utilizing the
Note; The first street you come to is 7th Ave. If you turn right and head south utilizing a bike lane it will bring you to Central Park at 110th St. See; CENTRAL PARK LOOP .
Continuing along 120th St you pass by Marcus Garvey Park. You'll reach Park Ave and the elevated train line at 31.3 miles.
Note; Heading left up Park Ave will bring you to the Metro-North's Harlem 125th St Station.
Continue along 120th St until you come to a footbridge over FDR Drive and the East River Greenway after a 32+ mile loop.
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BIKE IT OR HIKE IT