Eastern New York’s mountains, small towns, and lakeside destinations offer some of the most breathtaking (and often overlooked) stops in the American Northeast. These top 10 motorcycle rides will let you experience the culture and flavor of eastern New York in a way that only a two-wheeled adventure makes possible.
1. The Catskill Preserve
Distance: 100 miles
Time to Ride: 3 hours – half a day
You’ll never regret a day spent in the Catskills. Because the roads don’t get heavy traffic, you’ll enjoy smooth pavement, long stretches of open road, and stunning panoramic mountain vistas on the overlooks of Rt. 23. Though there are many beautiful roads to explore in the Catskills, our ride of choice is a loop starting and ending in the town of Catskill, NY. Take Rt. 23 West to Durso Corner, then Rt. 296 will take you across to Rt. 23 for a twisty, winding jaunt back eastward toward Catskill. You’ll skirt reservoirs, bubbling creeks, and plenty of friendly towns along the way.
2. The Adirondack Lake Loop
Distance: 90 miles
Time to Ride: 2 – 5 hours
Tour the Adirondacks in half a day, starting and ending in Lake George. This route covers well-maintained but twisty roads, so be prepared for a few hairpin turns (especially on Rt. 9N)–and beautiful scenery. You’ll take Rt. 9 North to Ticonderoga, a necessary stop for history buffs, and then circle back down, spending about 20 miles on I-74 before zigzagging south via Rt. 9 and Schroon River Road, where you’ll be rewarded with glimpses of sparkling lake shores. You might also want to stop in Bolton Landing for shopping and lunch, or rent a paddleboat to spend a little time on Lake Schroon on your way back.
3. The Hudson River Bridge Tour
Distance: 70 Miles
Time to Ride: 2 hours – half a day
Some of the most impressive bridges in the Northeast span the Hudson River, and this tour takes you across several stunning bridges along the way. Start in NYC with the George Washington bridge, then work your way west in the Hudson River valley. Much of this route runs directly along the Hudson, so you’ll get beautiful river views on the meandering, peaceful river road that is Rt. 5. Stop at Harriman State Park and ride to the summit for panoramic views of the valley, then travel through Storm King State Park via the famous Storm King Parkway. The twisting, winding roads are perfect for bikers, and if you want, you can stop by West Point Military Academy for a tour or a walk through the museum and gift shop. In Tarrytown, you’ll pass some impressive architecture (including the home that belonged to Washington Irving) and plenty of places to stop to stretch your legs.
4. Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway
Distance: 25 miles
Time to Ride: 45 minutes – half a day
The Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway follows a twisting stretch of the Mohawk River just north of Albany. The perfect short drive for an afternoon, this route features well-maintained, twisty roads, beautiful scenery, and plenty of history-filled small towns and stops along the way. You’ll begin your ride in historic Schenectady, then cruise along the verdant, tree-lined stretch that curves along the Mohawk and old sections of the Erie Canal. The route skirts the Vischer Ferry Nature Preserve (a lovely place to pull off for a while) before pulling through the town of historic Vischer Ferry–and stopping at the Vischer Ferry General Store for a mouthwatering lunch. The Cohoes Falls is also a must-see, and Cohoes Falls Overview Park offers a great place to stretch your legs.
5. Tracy Road
Distance: 11 miles
Time to Ride: 20-30 minutes
No tour of the Adirondacks/Lake Placid area would be complete without a quick ride on Tracy Road, a practically pristine, low-traffic stretch of road running from Moriah Center to the intersection of Tracy Road with I-87. The 11-mile stretch is the perfect addition to a tour of Lake Placid, especially if you’re passing through Port Henry along the way. The attraction of this ride isn’t the fancy stops along the way; it’s just a serene, lightly-traveled stretch of winding road through the Adirondack forest. Look close, and you’re likely to see deer, foxes, squirrels, and chipmunks along the way.
6. Boonville to Lake Placid
Distance: 127 miles
Time to Ride: Half a day or more
This route takes you through the High Peaks Wilderness on mountain roads that wander through forests, past the Chain Lakes, and beside countless mountain streams. It’s the perfect half-day ride to give you a taste of the wilderness that’s sure to make you want to keep exploring. Begin in Boonville, NY, where you’ll take Rt. 28 to Lake 30. Then just stay on Lake 30 all the way to Lake Placid for a low-stress ride. There are a few bumpy patches of road along the way, which feels natural in the midst of the rugged mountain terrain. Along the way, you’ll pass through several mountain towns, all with places to stop for fuel and/or food. Make sure to stop and explore Lake Placid’s many artisan shops, great restaurants, and pubs once you arrive!
7. State Route 3
Distance: 170 miles
Time to Ride: Half a day
Another beautiful drive through the Adirondacks, NYS Route 3 travels east to west, from Plattsburgh on the banks of Lake Ontario down to Keeseville in Western NY. Route 3 offers one of the most popular drives through the mountains. It skirts the High Peaks Wilderness’s northwestern edge and passes through Natural Bridge, Cranberry Lake, Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, and Wilmington, among other beautiful destination towns. The roads are typically smooth and well-maintained, with just enough twists and curves to keep things interesting. Expect everything from panoramic views (add a jaunt to the top of Whiteface Mountain during the summer!) to sparkling lakes and dense, forested wilderness along the way.
8. Long Island North Shore
Distance: 60 miles
Time to Ride: 3 hours – half a day
Explore the north shore of Long Island for a refreshing, low-stress ride from Glen Cove to Port Jefferson. You’ll wander through neighborhoods of beautiful, affluent homes, then cross a drawbridge to Oyster Bay, where the road hugs Long Island Sound. Along this stretch, there are plenty of outdoor seafood restaurants and other picturesque stops to stretch your legs, walk along the beach a bit, or grab a New York-style bagel and coffee. You’ll meander through Huntington, which offers some of Long Island’s best international cuisine, pass near Teddy Roosevelt’s House at Sagamore Hill, and see Target Rock, once used for target practice by the British before the Revolutionary War and now a nature preserve with hiking trails and restroom facilities. Whether you’re a history buff, a bibliophile, or just looking for a fantastic brunch place, you’ll find it along this route!
9. The Upper Delaware Scenic Byway (Route 97)
Distance: 70 miles
Time to Ride: 2 hours – half a day
Meander along the banks of the Delaware River, which forms the natural border between southeastern New York and Pennsylvania. A beautiful, twisty route through the Catskills, the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway connects Port Jervis on the eastern side with Hancock in the west. Plenty of small historic towns, scenic stops, shopping, museums, and landscapes along the way offer the perfect stopping-off places to explore and take in the atmosphere of the Delaware River Valley’s unique culture. Beautiful bridges, picturesque towns, and roads cut along rocky slices of landscape make every mile interesting.
10. Albany-Altamont Loop
Distance: 30 miles
Time to Ride: 1-3 hours
For a short, scenic route that starts and ends in Albany, the Albany-Altamont loop is the perfect choice. Highway 85A travels through small towns and open farmland, while the area around Thatcher Park offers more open views of the surrounding forests. You’ll enjoy the low-traffic roads and variety of twisty sections, long straights where you can really get up to speed, but be aware of rocky, rough stretches on Krumkill Road as you get closer to Albany.