Bike and Kayak in NYC from Fort Lee

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Sunday, July 26, 2015
Did you know you can go Kayaking in Manhattan? I didn't up until a few years ago when a friend told me about it. Best of all you can do it for free! It's a great way to get some upper and lower body exercise and enjoy the city in a way you probably haven't done before.

There are three different free kayaking locations you can from depending on how far you'd like to ride.

The ride starts in Fort Lee where you'll head across into Manhattan via the George Washington Bridge, follow the Manhattan Greenway along the Hudson River until you arrive at one of the three paddling destinations.

Free Kayaking In Manhattan

There are three free kayaking spots on the west side of Manhattan on the Hudson river run by two non-profit organizations that want to make the water accessible to everyone. The Downtown Boathouse and The Manhattan Community Boathouse. While kayaking is free, they do have costs and if you can afford to leave a donation, please do so. 

During the summer they usually have hours during the week after work and much of the day on weekends. Solo and tandem kayaks are available and life jackets are provided. You will have to sign a waiver and be able to swim.

You will get wet so bring a change of clothes. All three locations have good spots to lock your bike too.

Most of the kayaking is just along the piers in a defined area. You can't take the kayak out for a tour of Manhattan but it's still a lot of fun and something different to do in the city. It's a great way to see if you like paddling too before tackling something more elaborate. They also offer some classes as well as longer tours so check their websites.

72nd Street

The closest paddling spot near the GWB is on Pier 96 run by Manhattan Community Boathouse. It's only an 7 mile ride starting from Fort Lee, making it 14 miles total riding. I've never been to this location because there aren't as many amenities as at the other 2 spots which make it easier for a biking trip.

Pier 96 (56th Street)

This is the primary location for The Manhattan Community Boat House. They have lockers, a changing room, an outside shower and you get to explore a little more of the city on bike getting there. It's only a mile south of 72nd Street on level roads along the Greenway.

Pier 26 (N. Moore St)

The Pier 26 location is run by The Downtown Boathouse. This is my favorite spot because you do the most riding but it is almost a 12 mile ride, 24 miles round trip. Most of it is on easy terrain along the Greenway.  They have lockers, changing rooms and an indoor shower.

It's not too far from the tip of Manhattan and when I have time I like to take a trip to Battery Park to eat before heading back. It's NYC so you don't have to go that far to find good spots to eat.

There's also a nice view of the Freedom Tower from this location.


Start on Hudson Terrace in Fort Lee, NJ at the entrance to the George Washington Bridge Pedestrian walkway. Bike across the bridge, staying on the right and yielding to pedestrians. On weekends when the weather is warm there is a lot of foot and bike traffic so be careful, especially around the turns by the towers. If you're riding with a group keep in single file.

After you exit the walkway and down the exit ramp make a right heading east but stay on the sidewalks until you get to Fort Washington. Make a left on the road for a few blocks and make a left (West) on 181st Street. 

Head down 181st Street until the end (careful it's a steep downgrade) and make a right. A short distance you'll see the entrance to a pedestrian overpass on the left. Make that left to the overpass and follow it over the highway and around until you get down to the Greenway. Head straight after exiting the ramp.

From here on end just follow the markings for the Greenway. There are some turns but they're well marked. Pay attention to lane markings for pedestrians only. Remember pedestrians have the right of way, even at crosswalks, so yield to them if you have to. If you have to pass anyone make sure there's nobody in the opposite lane heading towards you that you will interfere with and look behind you to make sure there's nobody already trying to pass you! It can get a bit crowded on weekends.

If you're not familiar with Hudson River Greenway it's a park with pedestrian and cycling route along the bands of the Hudson River on the west side of Manhattan that begins at Dyckman Street and goes all the way down to Battery Park. You'll path through parks, piers, marinas and other recreational areas. It's a very scenic route.

Most of the Greenway is flat and an easy ride but there are some hills around the bridge, both on 181st Street and on the Greenway.

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