The Health Benefits of Biking in New York


Fall is right around the corner and New Yorkers know there’s no better time of year to go outside and take advantage of the cooler weather and enjoy the gorgeous autumn leaves. In addition to walking and running, have you considered the many health benefits of biking? Riding a bike doesn’t just help you explore the world around you and burn calories, it also strengthens your heart, reduces stress, improves your immune system, and so much more.

Lucky for us, bike trails in New York state offer something for every cyclist – rolling hills, scenic views, and urban locales. Whether you’re a casual or serious rider, the bike trail map below will help you find a spot that’s nearby and suitable for your needs and fitness level.
Health Benefits of Biking #bike4health

What are the health benefits of biking?

Should you decide to try one of the bike trails near you or ride a stationary bike in a gym or your home, you’ll reap some tremendous health benefits.

Physical benefits of biking

Physical health benefits of biking:

How many calories do you burn bicycling? If you ride for 40 minutes twice a week, you could burn about 3,000 extra calories—or about a pound of fat—each month!

Want to prevent heart disease? Cycling 20 miles per week may reduce your risk of coronary heart disease by 50 percent.

Do you have sore, stiff joints from high-impact activities? Riding a bike puts less stress on your knees, ankles, and spine than walking or running.

Brain benefits of biking

Health benefits of biking for your brain:

In addition to the physical benefits, biking can help improve your brain health. When you exercise, you force your nerve cells to work hard. Your neurons light up, promoting the creation of certain proteins that form new brain cells. In essence, when you exert your body through exercise, you build your brain.

Physical activity also encourages neurotransmitters, which send messages between brain cells, to function more efficiently. As we age, those connections naturally weaken, which means that exercise becomes even more necessary for reinforcing them. Studies have shown that regular cycling increases energy levels by up to 20 percent and can decrease fatigue by 65 percent.

Emotional benefits of biking

Emotional health benefits of biking:

Cycling has been shown to relieve anxiety and offer other emotional benefits. One recent study indicated that even 20 to 30 minutes of exercise each day can prevent depression. If you can surpass 30 minutes, you might find that cycling yields even greater psychological power, including the release of endorphins that provide a natural mood lift. Also, regular cycling can make you feel less stressed or anxious because it helps regulate hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.

Benefits of biking on longevity

Benefits of biking on longevity:

Here’s something that might make you want to consider biking. Researchers have analyzed how exercise—specifically biking—can actually help an older person pay better attention and make quicker decisions when driving a car.

In a study of bicyclists in their 60s and 70s, it was determined that the cyclists were more able to detect complex targets, had a faster response time, and functioned better overall than sedentary individuals of the same age. Compared to other types of exercise, the bicyclists had a clear advantage over other seniors when making a quick decision in response to a situation.

In other words, if you exercise regularly when you’re young, you could have less memory loss as you get older, better health, and fewer road or other accidents, which means you can remain independent longer.

Ready to go? Discover bike trails near you!

You might have already explored some of our favorite hiking trails and local water sports spots. But, what about bike trails in New York state? One option is the Corning Preserve that runs alongside the Hudson River in downtown Albany. If you’re not in the immediate Capital Region, the Hudson Valley, Adirondacks, and the other areas identified on the map also offer a variety of routes.

Check out this map for suggestions for where to go.


Paved bike trails in New York = Paved bike trails in New York

Dirt bike trails in New York = Dirt bike trails in New York

Varied surface bike trails in New York = Varied surface bike trails in New York

Gravel surface bike trails in New York = Gravel surface bike trails in New York


Paved Bike Trails in New York

Paved bike trails in New York state:

Bike Trail Area Distance Material Trail Use Amenities
Allegheny River Valley Trail Allegany and Cattaraugus counties – St Bonaventure 5.6-mile loop Asphalt Multi-use
Auburn Trail Ontario County – town of Victor 9 miles one way Asphalt Multi-use Some sections feature shoulders and sidewalks
Ballston Veterans Bike Path Saratoga County – Ballston Lake 3.5 miles Asphalt Multi-use
Corning Preserve Capital Region – Albany and Watervliet along the Hudson 8.6 miles Asphalt Multi-use
East Ithaca Recreation Way Tompkins County – Ithaca 2.2 miles Oil and stone surfaces Multi-use
Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville Rail Trail Fulton County – Johnstown and Broadalbin 9.5 miles Asphalt Multi-use Dog friendly
Mohawk-Hudson Bike Trail Capital Region – Schenectady and Albany along the Mohawk and Hudson rivers 86 miles Asphalt Multi-use
Mohonk Preserve Ulster County – New Paltz 30 miles, connected to 80-miles of carriage roads Gravel Multi-use
New York State Bicycle Route, Route 5 Extends across New York state from Niagara Falls to Massachusetts 365 miles Roadway Biking (shared roadway)
Spring Run Trail Saratoga County – Saratoga Springs 1 mile Asphalt Biking and walking Wheelchair accessible
TR Gallo Waterfront Park Ulster County – Kingston .5 miles Paved Multi-use
Uncle Sam Bikeway Capital Region – Troy and Lansingburgh 3.5 miles Asphalt Multi-use Wheelchair accessible
Vestal Rail Trail Broome County – Vestal 3.8 miles Asphalt Multi-use Playground, picnic tables, and pavilion
Warren County Bikeway Warren County – Glens Falls to Lake George Village 10 miles Asphalt Multi-use Wheelchair accessible

Dirt and Gravel Bike Trails in New York

Dirt/gravel bike trails in New York state:

Bike Trail Area Distance Material Trail Use Amenities
Catskill Scenic Trail Delaware County – Stamford 26 miles Trails in and out of small hamlets and villages Multi-use
Flume Trails Essex County – Wilmington 10.5 miles Trails across wetlands and through woods; elevations vary and some portions are challenging and hilly Multi-use
Grafton Lakes Park Trail Rensselaer County – Grafton 25+ miles Trails are on a forest mountain ridge that also has a lake with sandy beach; the trails are hilly and unpaved, with lots of rocks and roots Multi-use
Marbletown O&W Rail Trail Ulster County – Marbletown 8.7 miles Off-road trail through wooded area Multi-use
Tannersville Bike Path Greene County – Tannersville, Northern Catskills 2.3 miles Dirt and gravel Multi-use
The Albany Pine Bush Trail Albany County – Albany 18 miles Off-road path Multi-use
The Thacher Park Trail Albany County – Voorheesville 30 miles, single and doubletrack mountain bike trails Trails across miles of limestone cliff faces, rock-strewn slopes, woodlands, and open fields Multi-use Restrooms, picnic areas, and excellent views of the Helderberg Escarpment
Wilber Park Ostego County – Cooperstown 3 miles Wooded mountain biking trails Multi-use
Tallman Mountain State Park Bike Path Rockland County – Palisades 2.1 miles Partially paved biking trails through wooded uplands overlooking the Hudson and Piermont marsh Multi-use
Varied Surface Bike Trails in New York

Varied surface bike trails in New York state: 

Bike Trail Area Distance Material Trail Use Amenities
Champlain Canalway Trail Warren and Washington counties 62 miles, 22 of which are undefined and/or under construction Crushed stone Multi-use Historic towpaths and community attractions
Dutchess Rail Trail Dutchess and Ulster counties –
18 miles Paved with some sections of packed dirt Multi-use
Heritage Trail (aka Orange Heritage Trail) Orange County – Goshen 15 miles Mix of paved and unpaved trail Multi-use Wheelchair accessible
Hudson River Greenway Trails Hudson River 147 miles Mix of paved and gravel trails Multi-use Wheelchair accessible
Lake Placid to Saranac Lake Bike Trail Essex and Franklin counties – Lake Placid, Saranac Lake 8.6 miles Mix of paved and off-road mountain bike trails Multi-use
Mohonk Preserve Ulster County – New Paltz 30 miles connected to 80 miles of carriage roads Mix of paved and gravel trails Multi-use
Mountain-Coast Connector Essex County – Westport, Wadhams, and Elizabethtown 28 miles Roadway Primarily vehicular, watch for traffic on Routes 22, 9, and 9N
Onondaga Creek Walk Onondoga County – Syracuse 2.6 miles Paved Multi-use Wheelchair accessible
Onondaga Lake Park Onondaga County – Liverpool 7.5 miles Paved and off-road trails Multi-use Visitors center and dog park
TOBIE Trail Hamilton County – Inlet 12 miles Mix of paved and unpaved trail Multi-use
Verona Beach State Park Rail Trail Oneida County – Verona Beach and Oneida Lake 2 miles Mix of pavement, dirt, and grass Multi-use Picnic areas and camping

What are some favorite bike trails near you?

CDPHP® is committed to helping members stay strong and healthy—for life. Has cycling changed your life and health for the better? Share your journey, favorite moments, or any bike trails near you that we may have missed in the comments section below.

Connect with others: #bike4health

In addition to the health benefits of biking, you can meet new friends and share fun experiences. Take a moment to connect with others who are biking in New York and beyond by using the #bike4health hashtag as you prepare for and enjoy bike trails near you.

Don’t know what to share? Start with these #bike4health illustrations. Pin, post, and tweet them for your daily dose of inspiration!

You can’t buy happiness but you can buy a bike. Check out bike trails near you. #bike4health #healthy #fitness #cycling #biking #biketrails #bike This is my gym. Here’s some great biking in New York to #bike4health. #healthy #fitness #cycling #biking #biketrails #bike
Powered by you. Get all the health benefits of biking while you #bike4health. #healthy #fitness #cycling #biking #biketrails #bike Sit down and do something. Enjoy the health benefits of biking. #bike4health #healthy #fitness #cycling #biking #biketrails #bike

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14 Responses to “The Health Benefits of Biking in New York”

  1. Don’t forget the Zim Smith Trail! 9 miles from Halfmoon to Ballston Spa, combo of paved and crushed stone

      • I was going to mention the Zim Smith trail as well, there is also a small off-road portion located off English road (small state parking lot) within Ushers Road State Forest. Just down the road in Ballston Lake (right next to Carney’s Tavern, off of rt 146A) there is a trail that begins next to the train tracks that takes you north to Ballston Spa near the High School

        • Hello, Nate: Thank you for the comment. Yes, it sounds like Zim Smith is the place to go for biking in Saratoga County. Thanks so much for adding the details. They will definitely help our members find these wonderful biking spots and #bike4health. ~ Suzanne

    • Dear John, Thank you for sharing! Sounds like a newly paved riding trail would be a good choice for people interested in Central New York biking. ~ Suzanne

  2. Wally Elton

    I am involved with several groups, such as the Saratoga County-wide Trails Committee, and would be happy to help update your information. Besides the Zim Smith, a major trail, you missed the 9-mile Feeder Canal Trail in Glens Falls, and the emerging Champlain Canalway Trail is in Saratoga and Washington Counties.

    • Hi, Wally: Thank you for adding the Glens Falls Feeder Canal Trail and the Champlain Canalway Trail. Those sound like fantastic opportunities for some great biking. If your friends or other members of your organization have favorite bike trails, please encourage them to share their suggestions with us. We’d love to hear from them. Thank you for taking the time to comment! ~ Suzanne

  3. Ellen O'Brien

    Do you know if there is any place in the Capital District that teach older adults how to ride a bike and guide them in bike selections and the correct gear to use? I use to ride a bike like 35 years ago but would love to try again.

  4. Bicycling is most fun in groups. I would recommend you also include biking clubs in the different areas. I recommend hrrtonline(dot)com for the capital region.

    • Hi, Bryan. Thank you for that suggestion! Yes, biking in groups is definitely a fun, social experience. In fact, research shows that there are lots of ‘Buddy Benefits’ to fitness with friends. We appreciate your sharing the website for your cycling group, and encourage your friends to also share their experiences. ~ Suzanne

  5. How could you leave out the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, with 22 miles of trail, it is the gateway to Mohonk Preserve, Minnewaska and beyond. It’s also next to SUNY New Paltz, passes through the towns of Gardiner, New Paltz & Rosendale and currently ends just 1.4 miles from the historic Stockade District in Kingston. Plans currently in the works will link it to the Hudson Valley Rail Trail, the Walkway Over Hudson and the Dutchess County Rail Trail. Additionally it will connect to the Kingston Greenline, an urban trail in Kingston, the Ontario & Western Rail Trail and in another two years with a new rail trail all the way to Phoenicia.

    • Thanks for the great information, Michael! Sounds like the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail is a fantastic place to #bike4health. We’re fortunate that we have so many biking options that are suitable for all fitness levels across New York state. We appreciate your sharing this one with our members. ~ Suzanne


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