Trail Marker at Cunningham Park, Queens, New York City, USA.

Mountain Biking Cunningham Park

Photo: CHOONGKY/Shutterstock

Find rides for any ability level in Queens’ beloved, 100-year-old park.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner, weekend warrior, or total pro: Amid Cunningham Park’s giant trees and rolling hills, you’ll find everything from BMX-style pump tracks to gently flowing trails. Built by locals for locals, this place has something for everyone.  

But while mountain bikers are part and parcel of the park’s user base today, it wasn’t always that way. Cunningham was first established in 1928 on land that once belonged to the Munsee Lenape (Delaware) People. For nearly 100 years, the trails served as a haven for hikers, walkers, and joggers. Mountain bikers, however, weren’t invited to the party.

Due to decades of motorized misuse and misunderstanding, mountain biking was illegal in Cunningham as recently as the 1990s. It wasn’t until the local nonprofit Concerned Long Island Mountain Bikers (CLIMB) got involved that public opinion started to come around. Ultimately, CLIMB got permission to build about 6.5 miles of mountain biking trails across the park’s northern half. Maybe it’s because they had a lot to prove—or maybe it’s just because Cunningham’s topography lends itself so well to fast, flowy riding—but the result proved to be one of Long Island’s finest trail networks.

Recommended Rides

Cunningham Park is almost perfectly bisected by the Clearview Expressway (a pedestrian bridge connects the two halves.) Generally, the trails on the east side of the park tend to be easier, while the western half contains more expert terrain. Here are a few local favorites to target on your next ride.

Easy Loop: If you’re just getting started mountain biking, try this fun, 2-mile loop, which links up most of the park’s beginner-level terrain. To do it, head west from the trailhead and take your first left. Complete the southern half of the main loop by tracing it clockwise, then hang a left to go over the Clearview Expressway. Do the green loop in the park’s western half (map here) before coming back over the Expressway. Once you cross the road, take your second left to follow the Green Trail clockwise. This will take you back to your car.

Green Apple: A long, switch-backing intermediate route at the park’s southwest corner, Green Apple includes everything from swoopy singletrack to techy rock gardens. To do it, head west from the trailhead, cross the Clearview Expressway, and take your first left. After 0.3 miles of fun singletrack riding, you’ll reach a fork. Go right for more intermediate terrain or left to tack on a small, technical spur. Either way, the trail will dump you back onto the main path. Trace this clockwise to get back over the Expressway.

Viper to Ringer: Tackle log-overs, steep climbs, and fast singletrack on this expert-level loop, which links two of the park’s toughest trails. To get there, shoot west across the Clearview Expressway and keep following the main path. When you’ve been going for 0.56 miles, you’ll see the Viper Trail on your right. Turn here and swoop down fast, hairpin turns before linking back up with the main trail. Here, head north. After a few minutes, you’ll be able to hang a left onto the Ringer Trail. For full value, do both the east and west halves of Ringer before heading back over the Expressway.

Mountain bikers at Cunningham Park Photo: CLIMB

Nearby Adventures 

If you’ve exhausted Cunningham’s trails and still have gas in the tank, pedal south to gain the historic Vanderbilt Motor Parkway. (Don’t be fooled by the name: Though the VMP was one of America’s first automobile roads, it’s now a bike-only path). Take the VMP west to gain Alley Pond Park and its bike paths. For a more educational day out, take it east to get to the Queens Botanical Garden and Zoo.  

Getting There

Though you can get pretty close to Cunningham Park on the train, it’s easiest to reach by car. Here are directions for both.

Car: Take the Long Island Expressway to the Clearview Expressway South, then exit on 73rd Avenue. Hang a left at the light, then left at 210th Street. The trailhead sits at the corner of 210th and 67th Avenue on the west side of the road.

Public Transportation: Take the F Train heading east. You can get off at Jamaica/169th Street and grab the Q30 bus to Oceania Street, which is right at the park’s northeast corner. Or, to get a few extra miles of peddling in, ride the F to its last stop at Jamaica/179th Street. From there, Cunningham’s main trailhead is about a 20-minute bike ride.

More Info

For maps and more detailed directions, check out the New York City Mountain Bike Association’s area page, or CLIMB’s trails info page.

Refresh & Refuel

For hearty American fare, head to the Blue Bay Diner on Francis Lewis Boulevard just north of the Park. Or, load up on New York-style pizza and calzones from Fresh Meadows Pizzeria, another neighborhood fixture.

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.