A Relaxed North Fork Bike Ride

One of my favorite bike rides in late summer and early autumn is along the eastern tip of the North Fork of Long Island.

The approximately 25-mile round-trip route is all about water views of Long Island Sound and Gardiners Bay, farm vistas and hamlets that feel pleasingly old fashioned. Like touring Shelter Island by bike, there’s a throw-back quality to this stretch of Long Island that’s hard to resist. It’s easy to navigate and completely flat, so this North Fork bike ride is well suited to a variety of levels.

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Starting in Greenport, you’ll follow the main road, Route 25, through East Marion to Orient. A turn south into Orient Beach State Park leads you along a narrow peninsula (above) where salt air mingles with the scent of pine from the maritime forest that lines the Peconic River Little Bay. You’ll have views of Plum Island and Gardiners Island, as well as of the big ferry boats that ply the water from the terminal at Orient Point to New London, CT.

The best way to enjoy this ride is to get a group of friends together for some pedaling followed by lunch and browsing in the village of Greenport, which serves as both the start and finishing point on the map below. On a recent weekday, a dozen of us traveled with our bicycles to Greenport by Shelter Island ferry. (Greenport is also accessible from Penn Station in Manhattan via the Long Island Railroad.). Read on for highlights and photos:

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Greenport, seen here from the deck of the Shelter Island ferry, is a former whaling village that has become a popular tourist destination in recent years. It’s two main streets are lined with shops of mixed vintage, restaurants and other attractions, including a waterfront carousel. It’s a quick ride through the village and a quiet residential area to reach the main road, Route 25, which stretches all the way to Orient Point, the eastern terminus of the North Fork.

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Latham Farmstand, laden with a colorful and flavorful bounty of locally grown produce and flowers, is among many that line Route 25 and reflect the vibrancy of agriculture on the North Fork. Stop for a piece of ripe fruit to snack on while pedaling.

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In season the fields of Lavender by the Bay in East Marion, one of the largest lavender farms in the U.S., are planted with 20 varieties of this fragrant herb. The large, barn-like shop near the roadside is stocked with all things lavender-scented, including sachets and bundles (above) plus essential oils, body care products, honey and more.

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Enjoy serene views on the stretch between East Marion and Orient State Park. On some narrow segments of the ride, you’ll be surrounded by water on both sides.

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Osprey are among water foul we spotted as we traveled the main road through Orient Beach State Park. A platform on which a pair of these birds, mates for life, built their nest is visible in the background. Watch for great blue herons and egrets, as well.

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The public beach at the end of the park road is a great place to take a break. You’ll find restrooms, a snack bar and watercraft rentals, including kayaks, windsurfers and SUPs. {Thanks Susan, far right, for organizing the ride.}

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For variety on the journey back to Greenport, turn south off Route 25 at Narrow River Road for scenic views of Long Beach Bay, and relief from the sun along the shaded neighborhood streets of Orient.

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During the summer months, the popular Brooklyn pie maker Four and Twenty Blackbirds operates a pop-up shop on Village Lane in Orient. A swing by for a slice of Matcha Custard, Salted Caramel Apple or Black Bottom Oat pie accompanied by a Stumptown cold-brew coffee is practically mandatory before returning to Route 25. We ordered a few slices accompanied by a dozen forks.

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The streets of Greenport reflect both its maritime heritage and contemporary leanings. Preston’s Marine Supply, which dates to the 1800s when it served bustling local shipyards, now includes a second store devoted to decorative items and gifts with nautical themes. The Weathered Barn Lifestyle Boutique (above), a contemporary boutique with vintage decor, sells tabletop goods, candles and body and bath products.

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Options for dining outdoors, many with water views, abound in Greenport. We chose the shaded back deck of Blue Canoe Oyster Bar & Grill, near the Shelter Island Ferry dock, where the shrimp burgers (above) were delicious.

Pro tips:

  • Pack a lightweight backpack or cross-body (musette) bag to carry purchases made along the route.
  • Apply abundant sunblock and wear your sunnies; most of this route is unshaded.
  • Exploring Greenport and don’t want to have to roll your bike with you? Pack a lock.
  • If you plan to travel by ferry to Greenport, note that, for safety, cars board and disembark first. Bicycles go last; the crew will signal you.

Enjoy your ride!

Photos: velojoy

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