motorcycle destinations

Best Motorcycle Roads & Destinations in New York, United States

Best Motorcycle Roads & Destinations in New York, United States

1. Introduction

If you are looking for a region in the United States to go on a motorcycle trip, perhaps you should plan on visiting New York or “the Empire State.” Towards the northern areas, this state hosts the Adirondack Mountains and the Appalachian Highlands. Aside from being close to the Atlantic Ocean, this state comprises several bodies of water including Lakes Erie, Ontario, and Champlain plus the Hudson and Allegeheny Rivers. Most of the surroundings around the roads you travel will include mountains, cities, and farmlands.


This article is intended to provide a list of New York’s famous motorcycle roads and destinations including supplementary information on this state’s motorcycle laws and possible luggage options.

2. Best Roads and Destinations in New York

2.1 Catskill Preserve

Starting in Catskill, you will be within the vicinity of Catskill Creek and the Hudson River. Beginning to head northwest towards New York State Route 23, you will pass by the Thomas Cole National Historic Site. Further along around the first northern bend, you will curve around Windham-Blackhead Range Wilderness, Elm Ridge Wild Forest, Five State Lookout, and Windham High Peak.

Distance: 186 miles
Time: 4 hours 3 minutes
Start: Catskill
End: Catskill


Traveling on New York State Route 23A, you should be able to make out Rusk Mountain Wild Forest and Vinegar Hill Wildlife Management Area. Returning back onto New York State Route 23, you will clear the second northern bend. Around this area, you will come across Mt. Utsayantha Fire Tower and Michael Kudesh Natural History Preserve.


Beginning to head southwest on New York State Route 10, you will wind around parallel to West Branch Delaware River until you make it to Walton. If the season is right, you will be able to check out the Delaware County Fair.


Heading along the southern side of the loop, you will pass by Bear Spring Mountain Wildlife Management Area as you travel on New York State Route 206. Transitioning onto New York State Route 30, you will ride alongside Pepacton Reservoir and Cherry Ridge Wild Forest.


For the last leg of the trip, you will travel via New York State Route 28 which will take you beside Dry Brook Ridge, Shandaken Wild Forest, and Slide Mountain Wilderness. Making your way onto New York State Route 214 and 23A, you will travel through and pass by Hunter-West Kill Wilderness, Indian Head Wilderness, and Kaaterskill Wild Forest.

2.2 The Adirondack Lake Loop

The Adirondack Lake Loop - Best Roads and Destinations
Photo Credit: newyorkupstate.com

Starting in Lake George, you will be able to check out the exhibits at the Fort William Henry Museum and the House of Frankenstein Wax Museum. Heading northward on New York State Route 9N, you will travel parallel to Lake George.

Distance: 98 miles
Time: 2 hours 9 minutes
Start: Lake George
End: Lake George


Continuing on this path, you will pass by a few natural sites as you enter the southern region of the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area such as Pole Hill Pond Trailhead, Northwest Bay Brook Falls, Clay Meadow Trailhead, and Deer Leap Trailhead.


After arriving in Ticonderoga, you will travel west on New York State Route 74 along the northern side of the loop. You will pass by Eagle Lake and Paradox Lake. You will then turn southward after you meet U.S. Route 9. This will take you beside Schroon Lake and Loon Lake.


Heading south, you will travel parallel to Schroon River as you navigate Interstate 87 back towards Lake George. You will pass by Cat and Thomas Mountains Preserves while getting a glimpse at Thomas Mountain Summit and Cat Mountain Summit.

2.3 The Hudson River Bridge Tour

Heading out of Fort Lee, you will enter the urban centers of New York as you put distance between yourself and the Hudson River. Turning northward onto New York State Route 17, you will be able to catch sight of George Washington Memorial Park, Saddle River County Park, North Road Park, and Twinney Pond Park.

Distance: 100 miles
Time: 2 hours 33 minutes
Start: Fort Lee, NJ
End: Tarrytown, NY


Approaching the midpoint on the left side of the loop, you will pass Ramapo before you start to curve around the outer edge of Harriman State Park. You will pass by Dater Mountain Nature Park, Dater Mine, Tuxedo Lake, Ramapo Dunderberg Trailhead, Reeves Brook Trail. Transitioning onto New York State Route 32, you will pass by Schunnemunk Mountain State Park.


Before you reach the northern tip of this route, you will be able to check out Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site and the Motorcyclepedia Museum while you are in Newburgh. Crossing over Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, you will make it to the other side of the Hudson River.


Venturing south via New York State Route 90, you will pass by Madam Brett Park, Hudson Highlands State Park, and Constitution Marsh Audubon Center and Sanctuary. Resting on a small island in the middle of the Hudson River, you should be able to make out Bannerman Castle. Transitioning to U.S. Route 9, you will be within the vicinity of Blue Mountain Park, Oscawana Park, Jane E. Lytle Museum, Croton Arboretum. If you travel this route during Halloween, you will be able to admire the display at the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze: Hudson Valley.

2.4 Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway

Distance: 25 miles
Time: 46 minutes
Start: Schenectady
End: 29-71 County Rd 159, Cohoes


Starting in Schenectady, you can check out the exhibits on display at the Museum of Innovation & Science or the Schenectady County Historical Society. Following alongside Mohawk River for the duration of this route, you will start by heading northeast on Aqueduct Road which will take you beside Aqueduct Park.


After crossing the Mohawk River, you will turn southeast on Riverview Drive which will take you beside Mohawk Landing Nature Preserve, Lock 7 Dam Overlook, Vischer Ferry Nature & Historic Preserve. After clearing the first southern bend, you will travel shortly on Clamsteam Road until you curve around the second northern bend and resume on Fonda Road.


Completing a final spiral towards County Road near Cohoes, you will travel within the vicinity of Lock 6 State Canal Park, Peebles Island State Park, and Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor. You will also be able to see where the Mohawk River merges with the Hudson River.

2.5 The Upper Delaware Scenic Byway

The Upper Delaware Scenic Byway - Best Roads and Destinations
Photo Credit: instagram.com

Starting in Port Jervis, this route will follow the Delaware River and stay close to the Pennsylvania-New York border. Venturing into State Game Lands Number 209, you will come across the Hawk’s Nest which will give you an overview of the Delaware River. You will be able to hike through the wilderness if you head up to Mongaup River Trail.

Distance: 70 miles
Time: 1 hour 23 minutes
Start: Port Jervis
End: Hancock


Winding around New York State Route 97, this route is ideal to travel on during the fall due to the dense foliage overhead being full of reds, yellows, and oranges. You will come across the Minisink Battleground Park which is in close proximity to York Lake.


Traveling on a straight stretch of the scenic byway, you will come across Skinner’s Falls Beaches which give you the chance to wade in the Delaware River. After you leave the wilderness behind, you may want to check out the performances held during the French Woods Festival.

2.6 Long Island’s North Shore Tour

Starting in Glen Cove, you can check out Morgan Memorial Park if you wish to get a view of Hempstead Bay. You can also check out the exhibits on display at Garvies Point Museum & Preserve. Traveling northeast, you will pass by Bailey Arboretum County Park and Mill Neck Preserve.

Distance: 44 miles
Time: 1 hour 36 minutes
Start: Glen Cove
End: Port Jefferson


As you head towards Bayville, you will take a wide bend close to the Long Island Sound as you loop around Bayville Avenue. You can visit Bayville Adventure Park if you have a fondness for amusement parks or you can spend time walking on the sandy shores of Oak Neck Beach and Charles E. Ransom Beach.


Turning back towards the south, you will cross over Bayville Bridge which will curve you around Oyster Bay Harbor. As you travel on Main Street, you can take slight detours to go visit the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum and Raynham Hall Museum.


After you have gone past Inner Harbor, you will travel along the length of New York State Route 25A. You will come across the Whaling Museum & Education Center of Cold Spring Harbor, the Heckscher Museum of Art, Phragmites Park, Makamah Nature Preserve, and Caleb Smith State Park.


Greeting you outside of Smithtown is the Statue of Whisper the Bull. After you have passed through Smithtown, you will resume traveling on New York State Route 25A. Along the way, you will encounter the Long Island Museum and the Avalon Nature Preserve. When you make it to Port Jefferson, you can check out the performances at the Theatre Three.

2.7 Boonville to Lake Placid

Departing from Boonville, you will travel east while riding atop Woodgate Road which will take you between Hogsback State Forest and Oneida County Reforestation Area. After reaching the end of this road, you will turn northward via New York State Route 28.

Distance: 126 miles
Time: 2 hour 38 minutes
Start: Boonville
End: Lake Placid


Continuing towards the northeast, you will pass through and travel beside the Black River Wild Forest, Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness, the Fulton Chain of Lakes, Pigeon Lake Wilderness, Little Moose Mountain Wilderness, and Sargent Pond Wild Forest.


For the last long curve before you arrive in Lake Placid, you will travel within close proximity to Tupper Lake, High Peaks Wilderness, the Saranac Lakes, and McKenzie Mountain Wilderness.

2.8 Frost Valley Corridor

Frost Valley Corridor - Best Roads and Destinations
Photo Credit: thelongbrownpath.com

Leaving Claryville, you can take a slight detour towards the east if you would be interested in checking out Red Hill Fire Tower. Continuing towards the northeast, you will travel in the narrow passage between Slide Mountain Wilderness and Big Indian Wilderness.

Distance: 21 miles
Time: 32 minutes
Start: Claryville
End: Big Indian


While winding around surrounded by dense forests on both sides, you have the opportunity to explore the wilderness by heading up Slide Mountain Trailhead, Giant Ledge Trailhead, and Balsam Mountain.

2.9 New York State Route 301

While you are still in Nelsonville, you can check out the exhibits on display at the Putnam History Museum and West Point Foundry Preserve. Heading out of the city, you will travel northeast on New York State Route 301, taking you beside and through Hudson Highlands State Park, Clarence Fahnestock State Park, and Fahnestock State Park.

Distance: 19 miles
Time: 27 minutes
Start: Nelsonville
End: Carmel Hamlet


After you have exited the wilderness areas, you will continue to follow New York State Route 301 but head towards the southeast instead. You will follow alongside Boyd Corners Reservoir and West Branch Reservoir which will take you beside Ninham Mountain Multiple Use Area and Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park.

2.10 New York State Route 3

New York State Route 3 - Best Roads and Destinations
Photo Credit: visitadirondacks.com

Departing from Plattsburgh, you will head south along the coast of Lake Champlain. You may be able to discern Bluff Point Light standing vigil on Valcour Island. You will also pass by Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area and Wickham Marsh Wildlife Management Area. Transitioning onto New York State Route 9N, you will travel parallel to the Ausable River.

Distance: 150 miles
Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
Start: Plattsburgh
End: Natural Bridge


Further along, you will travel on New York State Route 86 which will take you in between McKenzie Mountain Wilderness and Sentinel Range Wilderness. If you choose to stop in Lake Placid, you can learn about winter sports at the Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum.


When you make it to Saranac Lake, you can check out the exhibits on display at the Saranac Laboratory Museum or check out the performances being held at the Pendragon Theatre.


Traveling southwest on New York State Route 3, you will travel along the northern edge of the High Peaks Wilderness. As you make progress on your journey, you will pass by Panther Mountain Trailhead, Adirondack Foothills, and the Adirondack Sky Center & Observatory.


Approaching the home stretch, you will pass by the northern tip of Cranberry Lake plus the edges of Five Ponds Wilderness, Greenwood Creek State Park, Toothaker Creek State Forest, Bonaparte Cave State Forest, Frank E. Jadwin Memorial State Forest, and Onjebonge State Forest.

2.11 Cherry Valley Turnpike - US 20

Distance: 112 miles
Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Start: Skaneateles
End: Cobleskill


Embarking from Skaneateles, you will be immediately met by the clear surface of the Skaneateles Lake. Continuing to head east, you will encounter plenty of places where you can pick fresh produce including McLusky Orchards and Beak & Skiff Apple Hill Campus.


If you stop in Cazenovia, you will find yourself within view of Cazenovia Lake. If you wish to relax before you set out again, stretch your legs at Gypsy Bay Park and Lakeland Park.


Further along the route, you will travel within the vicinity of Albert J. Woodford Memorial State Forest, Mt. Hunger State Forest, and Beaver Creek State Forest. When you make it to Richfield Springs, you can check out the exotic displays at the Petrified Creatures and learn about this community’s history at the Richfield Springs Historic Association & Museum.


When you finally make it to Cobleskill, you may be able to check out the stands and attractions at the Cobleskill Fairgrounds or Schoharie County Sunshine Fair depending on the season.

2.12 Tracy Road

Tracy Road - Best Roads and Destinations
Photo Credit: openroadjourney.com

Leaving Moriah Center by heading northwest on County Road 7A, you will know you are heading in the right direction if you can make out Belfry Mountain Fire Tower in the distance. Winding towards the southwest, you will pass by Newport Pond and Feeder Pond.

Distance: 11 miles
Time: 19 minutes
Start: Moriah Center
End: Underwood


Despite the short distance, this road is well paved and has low traffic passing through which means you will have the route all to yourself most of the time. You will navigate through the Adirondacks and Lake Placid areas.


Make sure to keep an eye for local wildlife crossing the road including deer, foxes, chipmunks, and squirrels.

3. Motorcycle Laws in New York

3.1 New York Motorcycle Helmet Laws

New York is a state that follows a universal motorcycle helmet policy. This needs motorcycle rider of every age to wear a motorcycle helmet whenever they are operating their vehicles.


The types of motorcycle helmets accepted in New York are three-quarter and full-face helmets. These models have been approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation, were manufactured by the Snell Memorial Foundation, and provide both ample protection and visibility.


As you select your motorcycle helmet, check that they meet the following requirements and are designed with the proper features:

  • Has a Department of Transportation (DOT) sticker
  • Can be fitted around your head snugly
  • No visible signs of damage
  • Has a face shield with no scratches (Full-face helmet only)
  • Requires separate eye protection with no scratches (Three-quarter helmet only)
  • Has a hard and durable outer shell that is shatter-resistant
  • Gives you a clear, peripheral view
  • Can be fastened with a neck- or chin-strap
  • Allows airflow without fogging up
  • Can allow you to wear sunglasses or goggles underneath

3.2 New York Motorcycle Passenger Laws

New York does not have a minimum age requirement for motorcycle passengers. All motorcycle passengers must be wearing protective gear while they are seated behind you.


It is only legal to transport a passenger on your motorcycle if it is fitted with the following equipment: a designated passenger seat and footrests.


The passenger seat can either be fixed to the side as a sidecar, at the rear as a separate saddle, or at the back of a large driver’s seat.


Characteristics to look for in passengers are individuals who listen to directions, follow your movements, cannot be carrying packages in their arms, are wearing protective attire, and can reach the footrests.

3.3 New York Motorcycle Equipment Requirements

In New York, one of your responsibilities as a rider is to submit your motorcycle for vehicle and safety inspections at least once a year to stations approved by the DMV. It never hurts to have your vehicle thoroughly examined by professionals to confirm that none of its primary components are becoming faulty. If your motorcycle does not pass the inspections, just be glad that the damage was found in the safety of a building rather than following an accident due to mechanical failure.


You need the following minimum requirements fitted to your motorcycle for the vehicle to meet the safety requirements in New York. They must be working at optimal capacity to help you quickly avoid obstacles, improve your visibility to other drivers, and increase awareness of your surroundings:

  • Horn
  • Wheels
  • Tires
  • Handlebars
  • Front & Rear Brakes
  • Controls
  • Headlight
  • Rear light
  • Brake Light
  • Turn Signals
  • Exhaust System
  • Muffler
  • Rearview Mirrors

3.4 New York Lane Splitting Laws

In New York, lane splitting is deemed an illegal practice and forbidden for motorcyclists to attempt. You cannot ride on top of the dividing lines in between traffic lanes, ride in between adjacent rows of stopped vehicles, nor attempt to overtake a larger vehicle in front of you while both of you are traveling in the same lane.


You should act with just as much caution when it comes to lane sharing. Motorcyclists are entitled to make full use of the space within their current lane. They can also share a lane with another motorcycle so long as the vehicles stay apart at least two abreast and both parties consent beforehand. You should refrain from engaging in this practice unless you are alongside someone you trust with riding experience.

4. Motorcycle Luggage for New York Motorcycle Tour

As you explore the interesting spots in New York, you may come across natural or historical sites, roadside attractions, and places of business that are not accessible via motorcycle. During times when your motorcycle is parked, you may wish to bring along easy-to-carry items such as your phone, wallet, etc. Though you will spend most of your time on the road, it helps to have utilities and conveniences stored securely to your motorcycle just in case.


Listed below are the motorcycle luggage options you can choose from. All of them have zippered and/or mesh pockets, are made of durable and weather-resistant materials, and come with an installation guide for easy mounting. They differ in terms of design, color, size, and placement position to offer you diverse choices:

5. Parting Words

A motorcycle trip through New York can make for an interesting first-time experience for many reasons. It could be the first time you have ever traveled to New York. Or it might be the first time you have ever planned a long-distance excursion alone with your motorcycle. It may even be the first time you have visited New York’s famous locations such as the Empire State Building.


Regardless of the direction of your route or what activities you take part in during your New York motorcycle trip, make sure to stay safe while doing so. Be mindful of other drivers and the rules of the road. Make sure that your motorcycle’s equipment stays in working order to prevent mechanical failure while riding. Keep the contents of your motorcycle luggage secure so that they do not go flying into the other vehicles behind you.


Remember to be responsible when handling your motorcycle and try to have fun as you prepare to head out on your New York motorcycle trip.

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