Seven Lakes Drive scenery
There’s a lack of safe riding routes in the New York metropolitan area, given the dense population and highly trafficked, poorly maintained roads. However, within an easy hour’s drive from central Manhattan, cyclists can transport themselves to the forested hills of Harriman State Park.
Harriman State Park is the second-largest state park in New York State. Located in Rockland and Orange counties only 30-miles north of the city, it’s known for its numerous lakes, streams, hiking trails, public camping, and magnificent vistas. Most of the park’s roads are closed during the winter months from December through March. But come summer, my husband John and I regularly head to Harriman for our long training rides. We park in the lot by Lake Tiorati, which offers public restrooms, vending machines, and water fountains, amongst other amenities. The route we take is a 19-mile out & back that we repeat up to 4-5 times depending on our planned ride’s target distance. Although it sounds repetitive, the scenery is so captivating along the way that each out & back offers fresh and ever-shifting vistas. Cyclists pass by multiple shimmering lakes, fragrant pine stands, wildflower meadows, and lush woodlands.
Leaving the lot, one cycles briefly down Arden Valley Road into the traffic circle, taking the first exit out onto Seven Lakes Drive heading south towards Sloatsburg. (Side Note: Seven Lakes Drive is a highway that extends for 18 miles on a northeast-southwest alignment from an intersection with New York State Route 17 (NY 17) in the village of Sloatsburg to a junction with US Route 9W (US 9W) and US 202. Most of this artery is located in either Harriman or Bear Mountain state parks, except for a small stretch near its western end). Despite its double yellow lines, the section of Seven Lakes Drive that runs between Tiorati Circle and Sloatsburg is mostly traversed by park sightseers and recreational motorcyclists. It is well-paved with an ample shoulder to buffer cyclists from passing motorists. On some days one sees more deer than cars. If one is lucky (or unlucky depending on one’s perspective), one might encounter a black bear crossing the road. After all, Bear Mountain is called just that for a good reason!
Out on Seven Lakes Drive heading towards Sloatsburg, the route is rolling but nets an overall descent. The sharp climbs and long, breezy downhills are a nice warm-up and get the juices flowing right off the bat! As one reaches the park boundary at around mile 8.5, the road conditions rapidly deteriorate, heading out of Harriman into Sloatsburg. Most cyclists make a U-turn just beyond the big welcome sign marking the entrance to the park and head back the same way along Seven Lakes Drive. The ride back can be a bit of a rude awakening. Those same extended downhills on the way out morph into long, steep, out-of-the-saddle grinds. It’s a deceptively, challenging, backloaded route. Luckily the fresh air and beautiful sights help take the sting out of it. Once back at Tiorati Circle, the same out & back can be repeated as many times as one likes…or for however many reps as one’s legs are up for!
-Melissa Grieco PEARL iZUMi Crew
Nice shoulder to ride on.
Lots of vistas to take in.
Joyfully, no cars in sight.
On some days one sees more deer than cars. If one is lucky (or unlucky depending on one’s perspective), one might encounter a black bear crossing the road. After all, Bear Mountain is called just that for a good reason!
You shouldn't be able to get lost.
The road back to the start...
It's good to stop once in a while and take it all in.
Plenty of signs to keep you updated.