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?
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