120-acre Highbridge Park is located in the northern tip of Manhattan at the top of Fort George Hill in the Washington Heights / Inwood neighborhood. It was one of the first two parks to be open for mountain biking in New York City. The park straddles a rocky cliff high above the Harlem River Drive between 155th St. and Dyckman Street. The massive, exposed schist rock outcroppings, glades and steeply sloped cliiffside terrain were the perfect setting for mountain bike and freeride trails, a BMX dirt jump park, XC singletrack - all in one New York City Park.
The project was spearheaded by Matt LeBow and Dawson Smith back in 2003-04. At that time, Matt was the IMBA Representative for New York City; Dawson was a local mountain biker with a community activist bent. The New York City Parks Department along with the input and help of many others including local mountain bike club members (New York City Mountain Bike Club (NYCMTB) and Concerned Long Island Mountain Bike Association (C.L.I.M.B.); this landmark, neglected open space that even the birds shunned was transformed.
Weeds, trash, broken glass, hypodermic needles, stray dogs, and even remnants of artillery from the Revolutionary War period were removed. Trees, shrubs and other plantings were were installed, trails were cut to maximize the park's terrain for MTB technical thrills and the Mountain Bike BMX Park area (designed and built in conjunction with pro rider Jim Dellavalle and the Brooklyn Bike Riders) was constructed.
The rehabilitated High Bridge Park was opened on May 2007 to mountain biking with much fanfare. It was a new beginning for mountain bikers in Manhattan and surroundings areas. Today, the park can be considered "a work in progress" as more and more of the park and surrounding area is slated for improvements.
The birds have returned to a forested landscape consisting of oaks, elms, beeches, birches, dogwoods, sassafras and sugar maple. On June 9, 2015, after being closed to the public for 40 years, the iconic High Bridge with it's historic walkway once again connects pedestrians and bicyclists across the Harlem River via the Bronx and Manhattan halves of Highbridge Park. A lighted Skate Park was constructed at the base of Hamilton Bridge at 181st Street and additional, extensive reforestation projects have been completed. More rennovation projects are planned for the near future.
High Bridge Park's iconic landmarks, natural landscapes, pathways that provide scenic river views, and the mountain bike trails and BMX park are incentive enough to visit and enjoy High Bridge Park in northern Manhattan.
Other park facilities include the Highbridge Recreation Center and Pool, playgrounds, ball fields, and nature trails.
Highbridge Park Mountain Bike Trails
The Highbridge Park mountain bike trail system was designed to take advantage of the park's natural terrain. The intermediate and advanced mountain bike and freeride trails take riders across and down the steep, forested Fort George cliffside. A carefeully planned route of technical challenges including downhills through glades, drop offs, berms, tables and steps are just some of the interesting trail features you'll encounter. Before beginning your descent, take the time to admire the views of the Harlem River. The compact network of XC style mountain bike trails are some of the easier ride options.
The trail designers paid homage to the amusement park once located at the site with the trail names “Wonderwall”, “Speedway”, and “Rough Ryder”. The challenging double-black diamond “Hellfighter” route is named after an WWI all-black infantry unit in France. A Revolutionary War cannonball found when building the trails (possibly from the Battle of Harlem Heights) led to the name “Hessian Hill”.
NYCMTB hosts many events at the park, including group mountain bike rides, MTB Outdoor Fests featuring mountain bike clinics, free bike and helmet demos and guided mountain bike rides on the park's easier trails.
BMX Mountain Bike Park
The Dirt Jump Park was designed by IMBA Trail Solutions along with with pros Judd DeVall, Jeff Lenosky and Kyle Ebbett. Included are a pump track, a beginner line with three small jumps, and an intermediate line with five tables and two berms.
Speedway Trail, Skills Loop
Mileage / Blaze: Green Circle
Easiest. Relatively flat, flowy dirt trail that can be accessed from the southern end of the Dirt Jump area located along Fort George Avenue. Doing a few circuits makes up for the lack of trail "mileage". Where else can city residents hop on a mountain bike and shred some dirt in Manhattan? It's an excellent warm-up or workout ride. A second smaller, beginner skills loop can be accessed from the intersecting Blue Square connector trails or from the entrance near the Fort Hill / Dykman Street entrance. Expect an uneven dirt surface with some narrow, loose and at times muddy sections.
Engine Block Trail, Wonderwall Trail
Mileage / Blaze: Blue Square
More Difficult: Next level up on fast, tight and twisty singletrack with roots, rocks and other small obstacles, short steep ascents and descents.
Rough Rider Trail
Mileage / Blaze: Black Diamond
Most Difficult: These trails offer the intermediate to advanced rider steeper and tougher terrain with technical challenges that require quick thinking and expert bike handling skills.
Hell Fighter Freeride
Mileage / Blaze: Double Black Diamond
Expert: Downhill and freeride terrain that swoops down the cliff and along cliff edges. Requires the requisite drop off and jump skills to negotiate some of the extreme and rugged route features and obstacles. There are gigunda boulder drop offs, baby head rock sections along singletrack where the right side of the trail slopes away at an 85 degree angle, berms, and crazy ascents and descents.
Paved Hill Climb
The base of a paved, killer hill climb is located at the corner of Dyckman and Harlem River Drive. Great for a challenging warmup and workout.
Featured Video Clips: Well Done.
Things To Do
County Fairs, Festivals, Special Events
Highbridge Park Welcome Day With Bike Share / Second Saturdays
Here is your chance to have some fun while learning what it takes to build and maintain trails. These skills may open up a world of new horizons. Sustainable trails are in high demand. On the second Saturday of every month head on over to Highbridge Park for the "Second Saturdays" program. Bring your friends for a day of fun that includes trail service, MTB skills clinics, group rides and bike share. Program participants, NYCMTB members, or anyone with logged volunteer hours, receive a free 20 minute clinic and a guided ride throughout the trails. Bikes and helmets provided!
Trail Service work usually runs from 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM. Check the NYCMTB website for time frames.
From The South: Take the Harlem River Dr. north until it ends at Dyckman St. Turn left onto Dyckman St., then left onto Ft. George Hill. The trailhead is about 30 yards up the hill on the left. Park on street.
From The North: Take the Major Deegan to the Fordham Rd./207th St. bridge exit. Cross bridge into Manhattan, turn left onto Nagle Ave. (under elevated subway), veer right onto Ft. George Hill. Park on street.
Public Transportation: Take the #1 train to Dyckman St. Trailhead is across Ft. George Hill. For the jump park, get off at the 191st St station and ride 3 blocks north on St. Nicholas Ave. Follow curve around the top of the hill and look for jump park by the playground.
New York City Parks
New York City Mountain Bike Club (NYCMTB)