Bike on the path of New York City’s first aqueduct as we explore where the city’s water comes from. Twenty-eight miles to the New Croton Dam. Return by Metro North train or bike back on South County Trail.
Questions about the Old Croton Aqueduct Ride to Clearwater Revival
HOW DO I GET TO THE VAN CORTLANDT PARK GOLF COURSE CLUBHOUSE?
It’s in The Bronx. Enter at Van Cortlandt Park South and Bailey Avenue. Van Cortlandt Park South is between the 238th Street and 241st. Street stops on the slo-o-o-w Broadway Local (#1). It’s faster to take the A train uptown to the last stop, 207th Street. Bike north on Broadway, cross the Broadway Bridge, first right turn on 225th Street, cross the Major Deegan Expressway (I-87), left on Bailey Avenue and continue north to Van Cortlandt Park. The distance from the 207th Street station is a bit more than two miles. Also, Mosholu Parkway on the #4 line isn’t far away.
There’s no such thing as bad weather; only bad clothing.
Our track record strongly suggests that the only time we call off these rides is when no one in their right mind would have fun.
Dress appropriately for the weather, and dress your bike appropriately too: fenders are a good addition to any bike. You’ll like ’em, your bike will like ’em, and folks riding behind you will like ’em.
One-way from Van Cortlandt Park to the New Croton Dam is about 28 miles.
WHEN WILL WE GET TO THE FESTIVAL AND WHEN WILL WE GET BACK?
We’ll arrive at Croton Point Park between 2PM and 3PM. Allowing time for rest stops, those biking back with us will probably return to Manhattan about 8PM.
ARE THERE LOTS OF HILLS ON THIS RIDE?
With brief exceptions this ride is pancake-flat. The few hills on the route are short.
The surface of the southern end of the Putnam right-of-way in Van Cortlandt Park and most of the Old Croton Aqueduct (OCA) Trailway is dirt (some mud if it’s recently rained), gravel and grass. The OCA Trailway includes some very brief paved sections. The South County Trail (our return route) is very nicely paved.
WHAT SORT OF BIKE SHOULD I RIDE?
Most bikes are fine. Skinny road tires with little or no tread are probably inappropriate but knobby off-road tires are definitely unnecessary. Because the OCA Trailway intersects most local roads at grade crossings lacking curb cuts or featuring bicycle-hostile curbs, some fold-up and recumbent riders may find the curbs challenging. At the other end of the spectrum, anyone who’s riding a single-speed Rollfast would probably be quite comfortable on this ride. Fenders are a good addition to any bike: you’ll like ’em, your bike will like ’em, and folks riding behind you will like ’em.
We’re really not on a schedule but some folks on the ride plan to attend the Festival and bike both ways. We’ll try to average about 12mph. Remember, riding on an unpaved surface takes more oomph than riding on pavement. We’ll stop when there’s interesting stuff to see.
IF I GET TIRED, DO I HAVE TO RIDE MY BIKE ALL THE WAY?
MTA’s Metro North commuter trains stop at 12 stations along our northbound route, including Yonkers and Croton-Harmon. Trains going north to Croton-Harmon or returning southbound to Grand Central stop at all these stations about once per hour. Some stations have more frequent service. If you can’t keep up with the group you can always take the train.
MTA’s commuter trains require bike permits. Get info about train fares and MTA bike permits by calling 212-532-4900, 212-499-4386, or 800-638-7646; in person at Grand Central or Penn Station; or online.
IF I BIKE BOTH WAYS, WILL I END UP WHERE WE STARTED?
The ride will not end at its starting point.
Some folks (with MTA bike permits) will head back by train. MTA stations nearest Van Cortlandt Park are Marble Hill (closest) and Ludlow.
Those of us who bike back will take a route that rejoins the southern end of the OCA, passes near the starting point (The Bronx: Van Cortlandt Park Golf Course Clubhouse), continues on or near the OCA, and crosses the Washington Bridge (not the George Washington Bridge) to Manhattan.
Total distance round trip is about 70 miles.
WHAT ABOUT REST STOPS, FOOD, AND BIKE SHOPS?
Our route passes through many business districts but remember, we’re riding on a Sunday so bringing some pocket food is a good idea. ALWAYS BRING WATER! Food and beverage options between Yonkers and Ossining range from bringing your own to sit-down restaurants.
We’ll probably stop for lunch in Tarrytown.
The bike ride is free.
If you’re going to the Festival, save money — buy your ticket in advance.
You’ll also need money for anything you buy along the way, and for the optional train ride home.
For folks who are visiting New York City without their bicycles, here are some suggestions.
IS THERE ANY REQUIRED READING?
Hey! This is a bike ride! But well-worth the price of admission: Water for Gotham by Gerard T. Koeppel (Princeton University Press) both hardcover (hard to find) and trade paperback. Also, chapter 25 of Robert A. Caro’s The Power Broker (Random House) discusses the route of the Henry Hudson Parkway through Van Cortlandt Park.
If you’ve got further questions, feel free to ask!
If you do follow up, please tell us how you found out about this ride. TIME’S UP! has limited resources, so it’s always helpful to learn what’s working.