It never fails to amaze me how freeing it feels to zoom down leaf-covered trails just minutes after being stuck in traffic, pounding my head on the steering wheel. My personality shifts from night to day, my stress levels drop, and I feel… relaxed. Thank goodness for mountain biking right near the city.
What Makes It Great
If you think there isn’t technical mountain biking without heading north to Westchester, think again. The 358-acre expanse that makes up Cunningham Park is one of Queen’s best-kept secrets, with a trail system that will have you grinning the second you duck into the woods. Thanks to devoted trailbuilders from NYCMTB and IMBA, the riding here is first class.
The mulch-covered ground at the trailheads quickly gives way to dirt as you get deeper into the woods. You’ll occasionally see glimpses of the highway just outside of the park, but rather than being an annoying issue, it’s kind of fun to see people trapped in cars while you’re out shredding on your bike.
The trails are theoretically one-direction, and it’s specified on the trail maps, but be warned that people don’t always follow the rules.
The trails are divided into three type: beginner, intermediate and expert. While the expert trails can get intense, beginners can take on the intermediate trails with relative ease and maybe a few walks over logs. Iguana and Teepee are two of the best intermediate trails on the East side of the park, and if you’re looking for tough, technical rides, try Viper over on the Westside.
IMBA also points out that with only 40 feet of elevation in the entire park (lots of short ups and downs, but no massive climbs), if you’re a singlespeed devotee, this is a great place to come ride.
Want more? Cunningham has tons of trails but if you’ve explored everything and want something new, take the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway (don’t be fooled by the name, it’s actually a bike path) over to Alley Pond Park and go exploring.
Who is Going to Love It
The park is great for beginners and experts alike, with a host of trails for every ability level. If you’re looking to improve your technical skills, this is the place to go: the park even has a beginner and intermediate dirt jump park with a pump track! The beginner trails are possible on a cyclocross bike as well, so if you’re a fan of that fall sport combining mountain biking and road riding skills, the park is the perfect spot to practice, with a combination of road, singletrack, and obstacles that allow for serious mount and dismount practice.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
If you don’t want to ride from the city, take the QM5 bus to Glen Oaks and 260th Street in Queens, and you’ll be right near the park. There are even spray showers and wifi hotspots in the park, and on weekends, it’s full of families barbecuing, plus a couple of food trucks in good weather, so post-ride relaxation is right there waiting for you.
Parking is easy, since plenty of street parking is available, and thanks to IMBA, the trails are fairly well-marked and easy to follow.