We loved this trail! It’s about as far from a Zen trail as can be, but the combination of parks and water views on one side and the bustle and vibrancy of New York City on the other made this one of our favorite rides.
After winding our way through traffic from the brewery we later visited to the shores of the Hudson River (not for the faint-hearted, but not that scary, really), we began our trek north on the two-lane, almost 13-mile, paved trail. The Hudson River Greenway starts at the bottom of Manhattan in Battery Park, meandering among the promenades of tall apartment buildings with spectacular views of the river and the steep embankments of New Jersey.
The busy Westside Highway separates the trail from the residential towers and commercial warehouses, and when we crossed it, the sound of horns and rumbling trucks seemed to be absorbed by the river. While the trail is said to be the most heavily used bikeway in America, we pedaled easily around the bikeshare-riding tourists and occasional rollerbladers as we passed Chelsea Pier, the new Little Island, the Intrepid aircraft carrier, and other well-known tourist attractions.
There are numerous intersections along the trail, but more are for pedestrians than cars. Still, when we made the mistake of rolling through one, we were “enthusiastically” encouraged to obey the bike traffic lights by a caricature of a New York crossing guard.
Around 100th street, the traffic on the Greenway started to wane as the trail wound under the highway, up some short hills and down below the embankments now on the New York side of the Hudson. With no view of the city — just the sight of sailboats moored on the wide river — our only reminder that we were still in the city was the far-off expanse of the George Washington Bridge. Eventually, we made it there but had to turn around before the trail steep rose as it continued well past the Bridge to the northern trailhead.
Way too soon, we were back to our car and thirsty. There are surprisingly few breweries in Manhattan (a lot more in Brooklyn and the other boroughs), but we found a really nice one – Torch and Crown Brewing Company. The “story” behind the brewery was one of the more entertaining we’ve read – so we’re including it here:
Growing up in the NYC area, founders Joe Correia and John Dantzler didn’t always want to open a brewery. But one night at age 16, fate struck – both tragically had their fake IDs confiscated at a bar in the East Village. Left with no way to buy beer, the two decided they’d make it…
The first batch started with a Mr. Beer homebrew kit, two guys who hadn’t quite read the instructions, and John’s mom coming home to find that kit exploding all over her kitchen. Despite both being grounded for a month, their resolve was undeterred, and the two kept at it. By the time high school graduation rolled around, the two were winning some modest homebrew awards (which they had to send their dads to accept), and a passion had fully been born. On a trip to Ireland, Joe and John formally decided (over a toast of a pint of Guinness) that one day, they’d open their own brewery – centered around their love of three things: great beer, ambitious creations, and the amazing city of New York.
Fully aware that neither knew what the hell they were doing, they decided to divide and conquer – Joe to study chemistry and head into the brewing world, and John to enter finance in the hopes of figuring out that whole business side of things.
After 10 years, thousands of trial batches, and a few more boil-overs, John and Joe have reunited to create Torch & Crown Brewing Company.
We also really liked their logo.
The large, airy bar featured fermentation tanks, high top communal tables and ferns growing from the very tall ceilings. After a Friday morning ride, we got to the brewery around lunch time, apparently beating the crowd. (When does the weekend start for these people?!) Sadly for Kellie, there was a strange “no flights on Fridays” policy, so she was forced to commit to one beer. That was the Sway American Wheat, which was lightly hoppy but very refreshing. Jim had the Torch and Crown IPA, which he liked enough to buy a six-pack to go. There were no IBUs posted on the menu or the website (Joe? John?) .
The brewery also had a very interesting food menu that included delicious fried shitake mushrooms with a spicy ‘bama BBQ dip.
There’s SO much more to share about these NYC gems – feel free to add your comments below.