As temperatures start to drop, hardwood forests across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic stand ablaze with color. Deep azure skies, cooler weather, and the changing leaves draw many biking enthusiasts outside, especially in 2020 as we navigate physical distancing regulations. Biking allows riders to easily maintain a six-foot berth and spend time outdoors in circulating air, so whether one is looking for long routes or a quick, comfortable ride, the finest hues of the season are accessible on these six trails.
PINELAND FARMS | New Gloucester, Maine
Pineland Farms features more than 5,000 acres of beautiful woodlands and fields that are open to the public for year-round outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and horseback riding. This includes more than 18 miles of well-kept gravel recreational paths, perfect for bike enthusiasts. For the best views of fall colors, choose the 4.4-mile Valley Farm Loop for a quick ride through pastures and forests. Start your ride at the edge of Valley Farm, a publicly accessible franchise of Pineland which also offers tours for kids and adults. Easy-to-follow signs guide you over rolling hills and over a small brook to the Valley Farm cabin, a popular rest stop for snacks around a firepit. From the cabin, you can continue the loop or add mileage by detouring over to the River Loop trail. Be sure to grab a trail map at the visitor center before you head out and take you time to explore any of the other 16 trails on site.
Distance: 4.4-mile loop
MISSISQUOI VALLEY RAIL TRAIL | St. Albans to Richford, Vt.
This former railway line stretches through four beautiful Vermont towns, with options to bike all or part of the trail to view Green Mountain State’s spectacular scenery in fall. For a more challenging ride, take the Morses Line trail starting at the MVRT parking area on Kane Road in North Sheldon, Vt. Ride northwest to mile 2.6, where Quebec’s Pinnacle Peak is visible in the distance with Mount Carmi in the foreground. From there, continue north to the end of the rail trail in Richford, Vt., then return the way you came. For shorter routes, just turn around earlier to return to your car.
Distance: 32.2 miles out and back
MOHAWK–HUDSON BIKE PATH | Albany, N.Y.
Roughly 80 miles of multi-use hiking and biking trails connect Albany, N.Y. to Rotterdam. The paths are nearly entirely paved with short gravel-coated stretches and a short segment of on-road biking. For a moderate ride, start at Colonie Town Park and head southwest toward Schenectady, where you will catch sights of the changing leaves as you bike along the Mohawk River. Bike 7.8 miles to Lock 7 Park, where you can rest and observe the local wildlife before returning the way you came. Those eager for sights of the changing leaves will be treated to colorful views for the duration of the journey as you pass through woods and fields with the slow-moving Mohawk River never far away.
Distance: 15.6 miles out and back
FARMINGTON CANAL HERITAGE TRAIL | Farmington, Conn.
This 50-mile paved and gravel trail system stretches South to North, starting in New Haven in Southern Connecticut and ending at the Massachusetts border. For a challenging ride, start in Farmington at the parking area at the intersection of Red Oak Hill Rd. and New Britain Ave. Head north on the Farmington River Trail, you’ll travel through the towns of Unionville, Collinsville, and Simsbury on mostly flat terrain, with plenty of options to stop for a snack or photos. You’ll run into a moderate climb and descent in Canton on the approximately 2-mile on-road portion of the trip right before Simsbury Center, where the trail links back up with the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail. Take the Heritage Trail, heading south, all the way back to your car.
Distance: 28-mile loop
SCHUYLKILL VALLEY HERITAGE TRAIL | Schuylkill County, Pa.
Stretching over seven miles between Tamaqua to Middleport, Pa., the Schuylkill Valley Heritage Trail allows riders to explore the rolling hills of the Schuylkill Valley and historic remnants of Pennsylvania’s once booming anthracite mining industry. Begin at the Tamaqua trailhead just off exit 131 on Interstate 81; turn left at a sign for Schuylkill Valley Heritage Trail and proceed down the short gravel road to the parking area. Once on the trail, you’ll spot the Newkirk Tunnel, a now-defunct coal mine that first opened in 1868. Continue south along the trail for seven miles, over some challenging stretches of hills. Once you reach the Middleport trailhead, the southern terminus of the bike trail, turn around and return the way you came.
Distance: 14 miles out and back
HIGH BRIDGE TRAIL | Farmville, Va.
High Bridge Trail State Park is a multi-use recreational network welcome to bikers, hikers, and horseback riders. Once a railroad track, the crushed limestone surface makes for a level and smooth riding experience. There are eight entrances for the trail, but for a longer route try starting at Camp Paradise Road, in Rice, N.Y. Head northeast for 20.6 miles and you will come upon the primary point of interest, the High Bridge. Standing 160 feet over the Appomattox River, this 2,400-foot-long bridge offers beautiful views of the surrounding forests and hills, so be sure to hop off your bike and take a moment to soak up the sights. From there, return the way you came to double your mileage.
Distance: 41.2 miles out and back