Author Topic: bicycling NYC to Montreal  (Read 3314 times)

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Offline jaymartinkozak

bicycling NYC to Montreal
« on: April 16, 2019, 02:24:56 pm »
Dear Psycholists,
In the middle of May I will start to cycle from the George Washington Bridge to Montreal.  I live in San Francisco and will ship my bike.  I see New York Bike Route 9 and 9w.  Has anyone done this route?  How is this route for cycling?  Is there a better route.  How about camping?  I called the NY State Parks Department and they told me there is a minimum of 2 days stay in each park.  I want to go north along the New York side of Lake Champlain.  After leaving Montreal and other parts of Quebec, I want to go south along the Vermont side of Lake Champlain to Burlington, Vermont and then bike to Portland , Maine.  I bike about 50 miles a day and I am not a racer.  Last May I took 86 days to bicycle from Ocean beach in San Francisco taking the Western Express to Lewes Beach in Delaware then to NJ for my 50th high school reunion.  Any assistance would be much appreciated. 
Peace,
Jay

Offline dkoloko

Re: bicycling NYC to Montreal
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2019, 10:08:18 am »
Over and over I see cyclists planning on using Rt 9 or 9W traveling north from New York City. Both are very busy and not recommended. West side of Hudson River less trafficked than east. Cross Hudson over Newburgh bridge or railroad bridge in Highland. Rt 32 not bad from Newburgh to New Paltz. From New Paltz there are better alternatives.

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: bicycling NYC to Montreal
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2019, 11:53:08 am »
Agree. 9 and 9W are not nice in a lot of places. Poughkeepsie & Hyde Park come to mind. Was just up that way last spring.

Here is the route I followed from St. Albans, VT, near the Canadian Border, to Philadelphia, PA:

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/27849657?beta=false

Some of it is part of ACA's Atlantic Coast Route. (North of N. Canaan, CT, it was my own route). Some dirt roads in NY, MA and VT, but the surfaces were benign. (Any time you get off the beaten path in VT you should be prepared for unpaved roads.)

Camped most nights. Got a room in Hyde Park. There is a state park a few miles north on Rte. 9, but it's not great and sort of a PITA to get to. Rented a restored caboose in Chester, MA, but there is a campground on U.S. 20 just north of town. Also spent two nights at my high school reunion in Deerfield, MA. Worth passing through the historic village and moving on to Brattleboro, VT.

ACA has a route from NYC to Chicago. You could follow that to the Middletown, NY area then take Rte. 17M (which eventually changes to a county road) and hook up with the Atlantic Coast Route north at Bloomingburg, NY.

Offline mdxix

Re: bicycling NYC to Montreal
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2019, 12:07:18 am »
Are you set on going through New York?

Most scenic route will be on Western New England Greenway. From NYC, take Metro North train to Norwalk, CT. Bicycle permit is $5.00.

Offline sdotkling

Re: bicycling NYC to Montreal
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2019, 11:09:38 am »
Another suggestion: From midtown Manhattan, take the Hudson River Greenway Bike Path north, along the west edge of the island, past the George Washington Bridge.When the bike path ends, you'll be on Dyckman Street in northern Manhattan, and you'll need to cross Spuyten Dyvil, probably on the Broadway Bridge. Go north along busy Broadway to the Bronx and Van Cortland Park, a mile or two.
Here you can pick up the Westchester South County Trailway, a bike path that runs north. It is not a continuous trail (yet) but after a couple of gaps which you'll have to pick your way through, you'll be on the North County Trailway, which runs about 40 miles north-by-northeast to Brewster, New York. By this time you are well out of the city and into the exurbs. Find NY Route 22 in Brewster (or parallel routes, there are a few) and take that about 75 miles north, until you cross Interstate 90, and then keep going. Choices abound: take a right at Route 22 at Stephentown, NY and you'll go to Williamstown, MA--nice road, by the way--and then North Adams, MA. Continue north to Vermont 100 (I think that's it; it runs along a small, fast river, another nice road) and eventually make your way to Burlington, Vermont. Alternatively, don't turn at Stephentown and 22, keep going north another 10-20 miles to Hudson Falls, NY, where there's another break in the mountains that brings you into Vermont. This way you'll parallel Lake Champlain all the way to Middlebury, then continue to Burlington.
There's a nasty 10 miles to the north of Burlington that I haven't ever seemed to find an alternate to--fast and busy, little in the way of shoulders--but you'll make it, I'm sure, to the causeway that connects North and South Hero Islands and goes further north into Canada. From there, powered by poutine, you will fly into Montreal along the Richelieu River and related byways. Have a good time. The food in Montreal is awesome. Check out Schwartz's for the best pastrami sandwich in New York City...except it happens to be in Montreal (where they insist on calling it "smoked meat.")

Offline mbattisti

Re: bicycling NYC to Montreal
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2019, 08:17:33 am »
I've toured extensively between the Canadian border and the ny/ma thruway corridor. Going north on the west side, rt 22 has a very good shoulder. After ticonderoga, i could give you a mix of state and quiet local roads to get you to the border if interested.

Offline David W Pratt

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Re: bicycling NYC to Montreal
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2019, 03:35:52 pm »
From Burlington, you could take the cross Vermont rail trail east, which is pretty flat.  At the end, in Wells River, You can cross the Connecticut and pick up the cross New Hampshire adventure trail. That is also a rail trail.  The Vermont trail is about 90 miles, and the NH trail is about 80 miles.  The NH trail ends in Bethel Maine.
Ride with GPS can show you routes to the coast from there.
Good luck

Offline Jdotplonka

Re: bicycling NYC to Montreal
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2022, 06:08:36 pm »
Hi there,

European here, sorry in advance for any weird misconceptions, tightfitting lycra and bright colors in this post (and on the road). I have found the information that you guys provide here super helpful. Please excuse me for picking up this thread again and milking you for more information. Also, apologies for the length of this post.

I am looking for a bike route from Sherbrooke, Quebec (about 100 miles east of Montreal) to New York. We're going to go North to South, but planning-wise, I am trying to patch together a route from NYC up north...

It's going to be my wife, our ten year old son and me. We have about three weeks. We are used to multi-week travelling by bike, but we are not a very fast crew. On a mostly flat profile, we would comfortably do around 50 miles per day. We can ride harder, but if I schedule 70 miles of hilly terrain for several weeks, my wife might dispose of me in a New England lake (with a bicycle tied to my feet...). We much prefer rail trails, bike paths and quiet country roads and are willing to take quite some detours to avoid busy roads. and to find a brewery. As a family, we try to avoid riding on the shoulder of more or less busy highways. We can do some altitude, if we have to, but again...several days of intense altitude and the lake&bike treatment beckons... We can handle gravel very well. Single track is ok, as long as it is not too steep/technical.

When researching the route between NYC and Montreal, you invariably stumble upon the Empire State Trail - https://empiretrail.ny.gov/map. Going south-north, that trail seems to fit our ticket quite well between NYC and Albany - Yorktown Heights, Brewster, Hopewell Junction, Poughkeepsie, New Paltz, Kingston... that seems to be mostly on dedicated trails/ bike paths. Between Kingston and Albany, the route seems to be on-road mostly, but still ok. North of Albany, the Empire Trail doesn't look that great...from Mechanicville to Hudson Falls it seems to be mostly on Highway 4. Going north from Ticonderoga, the route seems to stick to 9N, which, from the looks of street view , does also not look like a road that fits our preferred mode of cycling.

Also, sticking to Lake Champlain makes sense for a straight shot to/from Montreal, but we are set to start in the vicinity of Sherbrooke, so further east...

Thanks to mdxix, I have found the information on the Western New England Greenway (https://wnegreenway.org/) the Vermont section (sticking to the eastern side of Lake Champlain) seems preferable to the Empire State Trail sticking to the western side of Lake Champlain. Stll, there seem to be some more or less busy roads. And again, this is north-south and ideal for Montreal-NYC, but we might enter Vermont somewhere around Newport....

I have also found the "VTX" gravel route on bikepacking.com (https://bikepacking.com/routes/vtxl/), which, by crossing Vermont from the northeast to the southwest, would fit quite nicely directions-wise...and it seems super scenic and nicely off-the-highways, but a total of 30k feet of climbing would again...yes, probably pond and bicycle. Honestly, that route leads over Stratton Mountain and I don't need that. If there were a slightly tuned-down version of this route....

So, I'm a bit lost and maybe you guys can help me. I have some questions but feel free to pitch in with some general observations as well:

1) Is my assessment of the stretch from NYC to Albany correct or too rosy? BikealiciousBabe seems to imply that Poughkeepsie is "not nice" - but maybe that doesn't refer to the trail I am talking about?

2) MDXIX recommends taking the Western New England Greenway from Norwalk, CT, up north. as the more scenic route. More scenic than 9W, I guess, but with the Empire State Trail having been improved in the last couple of years, wouldn't the stretch from NYC to Albany also be quite scenic? I mean, it seems that sticking roughly to the Hudson, there seems to be quite a lot to see and do... wrong assumption? I guess for an avid road biker who doesn't mind sticking to the shoulder of a not-super-busy highway, other options might prevail over the Empire State Trail, but with the abovementioned family set-up...

3) Any good recommendations for a bunch of quiet backroads which try not to accumulate as much altitude as the VTXL between Albany, NY, and Newport, VT?

4) How about cycling up the Hoosic river from Mechanicville/Stiwllater to Pownal/ Bennington? From there on I could decide whether to follow (a) the Western New England Greenway to, say, Burlington, thus skipping some bits of HW 4 (but paying in altitude) or (b) trying (parts of) the VTXL / bushwacking our way through Vermont....

5) The Missiquoi trail from St. Albans to Richford  (https://www.traillink.com/trail/missisquoi-valley-rail-trail/) might also be an option to cut east/west from Lake Champlain in the direction of Sherbrooke. Anybody any experience how well that trail links up to Sherbrooke or Newport?

OK, as you can see, I'm spending way too much time with planning this trip. Many thanks in advance for any help and guidance from your side.

Cheers

John     

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: bicycling NYC to Montreal
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2022, 08:43:48 am »
I don't have time right now to address the multitude of questions, but I will say a couple of things now.

1.  Just rode the Missisquoi Trail a couple of weeks ago N to S.  To get to Newport from the northern terminus without crossing the border you would have to climb Jay, which is a 10 mile climb (the early miles gentle) and do additional miles to get to Newport, where I spent my last night on the road.  (Great municipal campground there.)  You'd be better off crossing the border from Richford, going around Jay, and coming back into the states if you really want to hit Newport.  Traffic in and around Newport is very bad.  There is a bike path to get you around certain parts of town, but getting in and out of town was no fun. 

2. The Missisquoi Trail is, for the most part, not a relatively smooth, crushed limestone surface. When I rode it a couple of weeks ago a lot of it consisted of of two "ruts" with a hump in the middle and high grass growing all around.  Maybe it has since been mowed.  Also, there are at least a dozen crossings of Hwy. 105, plus crossings of smaller roads, and there are noticeable elevation changes.  It's likely going to take longer than you expect.

3.  IME, going off pavement in VT often involves extreme grades.  I incorporated dirt into my recent routes.  8, 9 and even 10%+ pitches (both up and down) were not uncommon.  Even paved roads are going to require climbing.  It's not called "The Green Mountain State" for nothing. Here is the route I linked to above.  Hopefully the profile will show:

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/37629823

Remember that I went north to south.  That one big climb is actually easier going in the opposite direction.  You would also be going down the long, steep climbing section in Massachusetts that my map shows starting around mile 260.  The ruling grade on that going north to south is over 16%.

4.  From what I have read, much of the Empire Trail between Albany and the border is on-road, and there can be heavy truck traffic, at least in places.  Having come down mostly the west side of Vermont from St. Albans to Brattleboro and then into Massachusetts I have to believe that side of the lake is better.  Not many trail miles to speak of, but both times the traffic was ok to very light in places.  My trip earlier this month was more in the central and eastern parts off the state.  Definitely harder:

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/39894553

5.  I do have a somewhat different option to that shown for 2018 above that I did last year.  It uses the new and wonderful wonderful extension of the Harlem Valley Trail north from Millerton, NY.  Assuming you are camping, the Copake portion of Taconic State Park has a terrific campground with new restroom/shower facilities that were just completed last year.  Instead of communal facilities there are private shower/bathroom "suites."  You later pass through Great Barrington, MA, and rejoin the route linked to above at Monterey, MA.  Let me know if you want to see it.


Offline Jdotplonka

Re: bicycling NYC to Montreal
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2022, 01:20:52 pm »
Hey, thanks a lot for this, BikeliciousBabe. That's a lot of really useful information - I hadn't, for example, noticed Jay. Shudder... so Richford is probably the better option (maybe then heading north to Waterloo, QC, then east to Sherwood...).
Thanks also for putting Vermont into perspectives... Green mountain state...

I notice that the routes that bikepacking.com advertises in my neck of the (German) woods are...of questionable sanity and in many instances seem to try to cram as many steep ascents in as possible. It seems to be a bit similar in the US. So VTXL is off.

I dig the route from St. Albans to Philly that you linked. How would you describe the traffic between St. Albans and, say, Hampton/Poultney? You write "ok to veryblight"... If it's okay traffic -wise, we might try to link that up with the Delaware and Hudson rail trail to Rupert and head on to Salem and then roll down batten kill to the Hudson around Schuylerville...

Or we might stay on until Manchester and go on via Bennington and Williamstown to Adams,  taking the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail to Pittsfield and again trying to link that up with the Harlem Valley Rail Trail (Thanks for that piece of advice as well!). Wassaic to Pawling would again be on back roads and from there, we'd take the Maybrook Trailway to Brewster and live happily ever after.

Or I might simply stick to the route that you linked... you obviously put a lot of thoughts and experience into it. What makes me hesitant about the southern part of your route is that eastern bent it takes after Manchester and the hills around Otis. I'm also kind of hesitant to let go of my idea of traveling along the Hudson as much as possible... Maybe somebody can talk some sense into me...

Anyway, that has already been very helpful, thank you so much, further thoughts/info is of course appreciated....

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: bicycling NYC to Montreal
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2022, 09:21:41 am »
I meant "very light."

The relatively short section of D&H Trail that I rode from VT 30 into Poultney had a crappy surface.  Again, just because there is a trail doesn't mean it's well maintained.  It's best to read reviews.  During my recent trip I incorporated 12 miles of trail starting in Plainfield, VT to get to a state park.  The first few miles were miserable.  Washed out sections, ruts, and one area that was not on an old railroad right of way, was very steep and had protruding rocks.  I had to dismount and push the bike.  Took me over 2.5 hrs. to go 12 miles, including stops for butt breaks and to ask locals if I was headed in the right direction and hadn't accidentally veered off onto a snowmobile trail.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: bicycling NYC to Montreal
« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2022, 10:03:08 am »
We rode the rail trail out of Poultney twice last year and the surface they used is a very coarse crushed stone. We were riding Surly Disc Truckers with pretty fat tires and we had been up to ride a lot of the Slate Valley Gravel Trail system. The rail trail surface was "painful" even though it was packed and "level". I can only compare it to riding a road that has just been ground back for repaving. Also, the gates were a bit odd the way they are slanted. In future trips we plan to use the parallel roads which have a decent shoulder. We were there on weekdays so traffic was very light.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: bicycling NYC to Montreal
« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2022, 10:28:09 am »
We rode the rail trail out of Poultney twice last year and the surface they used is a very coarse crushed stone. We were riding Surly Disc Truckers with pretty fat tires and we had been up to ride a lot of the Slate Valley Gravel Trail system. The rail trail surface was "painful" even though it was packed and "level". I can only compare it to riding a road that has just been ground back for repaving. Also, the gates were a bit odd the way they are slanted. In future trips we plan to use the parallel roads which have a decent shoulder. We were there on weekdays so traffic was very light.
Yeah. They changed the surface between 2018, when I first road it, and 2021, making it worse.  To me, the material actually looks like the stuff that is scraped off when you mill a paved road.

Offline dkoloko

Re: bicycling NYC to Montreal
« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2022, 11:28:18 am »
"1) Is my assessment of the stretch from NYC to Albany correct or too rosy? BikealiciousBabe seems to imply that Poughkeepsie is "not nice" - but maybe that doesn't refer to the trail I am talking about?"

In general the west side of the Hudson River is more bicycle friendly and interesting. Cross the river at Newburgh or slightly north over the Walkway over the Hudson. In general I am not too fond of multi-use trails when bicycle touring. They are apt to be crowded, bumpy, narrow, hilly, and away from stores and sleeping accommodations. Avoid if you can any Route 9 on either side of the Hudson. North of Saugerties avoid Rt 32.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2022, 11:29:54 am by dkoloko »

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: bicycling NYC to Montreal
« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2022, 01:19:13 pm »
"1) Is my assessment of the stretch from NYC to Albany correct or too rosy? BikealiciousBabe seems to imply that Poughkeepsie is "not nice" - but maybe that doesn't refer to the trail I am talking about?"

In general the west side of the Hudson River is more bicycle friendly and interesting. Cross the river at Newburgh or slightly north over the Walkway over the Hudson. In general I am not too fond of multi-use trails when bicycle touring. They are apt to be crowded, bumpy, narrow, hilly, and away from stores and sleeping accommodations. Avoid if you can any Route 9 on either side of the Hudson. North of Saugerties avoid Rt 32.
Finally got to ride the trail extension from the Walkway all the way to New Platz.  It's actually not bad and has a decent width, but I rode it on weekday morning.  I'll bet it's more crowded on weekends.

I'll tell you what is nice:  The new restroom facility they built right at the west end of the Walkway.

ACA's Atlantic Coast Route used to use U.S. 9 south from Hyde Park.  It now uses 9G, which takes you straight to the Walkway.  I've ridden it twice during weekday mornings.  It's not traffic-free by any means, but not nearly as much traffic as U.S. 9, and there is   It's definitely a better way to go. if one stays in Hyde Park like I did there is a quiet way to climb back up to 9G.  At El Guacamole Mexican restaurant you go up Pine Woods Rd.  Make the 1st right onto White Oaks Rd. and follow that to 9G.  It's all residential back there.