There aren’t many truly “hidden” gems left in southern New York, but for mountain bikers, Sterling Forest definitely qualifies. One of New York’s bigger state parks, Sterling encompasses nearly 22,000 acres of rolling woodland just north of the New York/New Jersey border. Here, you’ll find everything from wide, cruiser trails to technical singletrack and tricky rock gardens. Thanks to the work of local volunteer groups, the trails are well-maintained, and parking is free in most lots. That makes this one of the easiest places to escape the city for a day of riding bliss.
New to the park? Have no fear. The following guidance will cover everything you need to know to get started. That includes:
- Sterling Forest history
- Recommended rides
- Getting there
- Where to refuel
Sterling Forest History
The land now known as Sterling Forest was once inhabited by the Munsee Lenape people. Later, part of the forest became the home of Greenwood Forest Farms, one of the country’s first vacation resorts established by and for Black families. Up until about the 1960s, Greenwood remained one of the most fashionable summer getaways in New York.
In 1998, the State of New York purchased Sterling Forest from its handful of private owners and designated it a state park—making it one of the Empire State’s largest conservation purchases in recent history. Today, the forest is home to dozens of miles of multi-use trails. It also provides an important refuge for black bears, hawks, and other migratory bird species. While the land is managed by New York State Parks and Rec, much of the credit for trail-building, advocacy, and maintenance work goes to Palisades MTB and a handful of other local volunteer groups.