Capital Region bike paths

colonie bike path

The Colonie section of the Hudson-Mohawk bike trail

By Danielle Furfaro

The Capital Region might not be the best place in the country for bicycle commuting, even though plenty of brave souls do bike to work via our car-dominated streets daily. But when it comes to biking recreationally through natural, scenic landscapes, our area is hard to beat.

When I was a teenager growing up in Latham, I'd regularly leave the house in the morning and head to the bike path along the Mohawk River, then ride to Rotterdam and then all the way to Rensselaer and return home in the evening. There's nothing like the feeling of taking off aimlessly on a bike for a couple of hours, or even for an entire day. If you have a properly functioning bicycle, proper clothing and plenty of time, adventures will practically make themselves.

Here are a handful of bike trails around the Capital Region...

The Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway
The Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway is a railtrail that follows the path of the old Erie Canal. The 40-mile trail runs along the Mohawk and Hudson rivers all the way from Rotterdam to Albany. Nearly the entire trail is separate from the road, except for a small portion in Cohoes that runs along city streets. From Albany, you can also go over the Dunn Memorial Bridge and continue on to Rensselaer, although the bike trail on the east side of the river is sporadic. The trail is the easternmost part of the New York State Canalways Trail, which runs all the way across the state in unattached sections.

The Thacher Park Trail
In addition to the city/suburban trails, there are also a number of bike trails throughout local parks. There is an exquisitely beautiful bike trail inside of the John Boyd Thatcher State Park. That trail, which runs through the Helderbergs and has views of the Adirondacks, the Catskills and the Green Mountains.

Grafton Lakes Park Trail
The Grafton Lakes State Park in Rensselaer County has 25 miles of hiking and biking trails.

The Albany Pine Bush Trail
The Albany Pine Bush Preserve has 20 miles of trails running through the unique sandy terrain (don't worry, the trails are mostly solid).

The Zim Smith Trail
The Zim Smith Trail has been extended and now runs in a 17-mile loop from Ballston Spa to Halfmoon and back. Most of the path is paved and runs through picturesque neighborhoods in Saratoga County.


You might need to throw your bike in a car to get to some of the state park trails, but there's probably a bike path within riding distance of your house. From Albany, a quick jaunt down to the Corning Preserve will put you on the Hudson-Mohawk Bikeway. In Niskayuna, it's right over on River Road.

And keep in mind a few safety precautions before heading out.

Do you regularly make use of the Capital Region's bike trails? If so, which ones are your favorite?

Comments

The Mohawk Hudson Bikeway is really nice. Especially out near Niskayuna and the river.

Love the Zim Smith trail, it's esp good for kids :) I know we only have part of it, but in so many ways, Ballston Spa is great place to live & raise a family. Very thankful to live here!

I mentioned this in a recent post, but the capital region is one of the few places where you can actually ride from urban to rural (and i dont mean suburban to rural). The trails are quite well used too.

I like the trail that goes north from downtown albany to watervliet, i used to ride that a lot. The disconnect between that and the rest of the trail north needs to be fixed though, its hard to find where the trail starts again in watervliet and the main road you have to ride on at one point wont be comfortable for most riders.

I love the Mohawk Hudson Bikeway- the riverside is GORGEOUS.

Shameless plug time!

New York has more than 1,200 miles of multi-use trails where you can bike, walk, run, cross-country ski, and sometimes ride horses. The organization I work for, Parks & Trails New York, has an application called TrailFinder that serves as one-stop interactive gateway to 110 greenways, rail trails, canal trails, bikeways, and riverwalks located in every region of the state.

Also, recently opened but not yet on Trailfinder, is the Albany County Rail Trail in Behtlehem. http://www.albanycounty.com/railtrail/

Slight tangent - can you suggest a reliable place to get a bike tuned up? Thanks to garage sales and Craigslist, we've scored some deals on bikes for the family, but one or two need a little love before I trust them further than the immediate neighborhood.

Some of the aforementioned trails (Thacher Park, Pine Bush) are really only bike-able using mountain bikes. Road bikes or hybrids are probably impractical and potentially dangerous on those trails. Also, I would note that while the Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway ends in downtown Albany, you can continue over the Dunn Memorial into Rensselaer County, on to State Bicycle Route 5 or 9. 9 in particular runs on Route 9J down to Columbia County, and is a perfect country ride using the wide and safe median!

@abby - Both the Albany and Troy Bike Rescue programs are free, and will teach you how to fix up your bike. Or, Downtube near Washington Park, CK Cycles near Colonie Center, or Broadway Bicycles on Broadway can probably help you out.

All of the "tips" displayed on that ISU link are why people don't like white folks. You don't need any of those things, and frankly, if you use those, we can't be friends on the trails. Ride a bike, look like a normal person, Fuck lycra louts.

I've been very happy with the Bike Barn in Cohoes.

The Saratoga Battlefield park is a great place to bike. While technically not a bike trail, the paved roads through the park are closed to vehicle traffic and the views of the Hudson Valley are spectacular.

Doodnowai, I call them The Spandexed. And do try to look normal. Don't be the family riding the rail trail with reflective clothing on during the day, with helmets on every one, including the kid riding in the trailer.

Don't forget us Schenectadians! The Schenectady Bike Path from Schenectady County Community College along the Mohawk. You ride past a few Erie Canal locks and bird watching areas. We get a bad wrap but Schenectady has some nice things to offer too.

C- the first trail mentioned was that path (The Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway).

Ryan- So, in order to not look silly, at least one family member should be open to head injury? Or are you saying that riding in a trailer somehow reduces a kid's chance of head injury over riding on a bike?

re the Mohawk Hudson Bike Hike Trail -- in the interest of historical pedantry, the section from Alexander Street in Cohoes to Rexford mostly follows the route of the Troy-Schenectady Railroad (later New York Central, finally D&H), with diversions to get around the Northway in Latham and around GE Global Research/KAPL in Niskayuna. this makes the section a Rail Trail rather than a Canal Trail. It picks up the canal route in Schenectady heading west.

love the bike path thru cohoes.

Sorry about being late to the party, but you forgot the Old Champlain Canal Trail in Waterford. It's short, but nice.

Also, the Troy has the Uncle Sam Trail.

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