Sports and Outdoors

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TRAVEL TIPS

Sports and Outdoors

Bike Travel

Most airlines accommodate bikes as luggage, provided they are dismantled and boxed; check with individual airlines about packing requirements. Some airlines sell bike boxes—which are often free at bike shops—for about $20 (bike bags can be considerably more expensive). International travelers often can substitute a bike for a piece of checked luggage at no charge; otherwise, the cost is about $100. Most U.S. and Canadian airlines charge $40–$80 each way.

New York's terrain is tremendously varied, and apart from Long Island it tends to be hilly. Long Island, however, affords cycling enthusiasts of all abilities miles of great riding. At the other end of the spectrum, traffic, theft, and a lack of suitable roads make New York City unappealing for biking. Depending on your fitness level, upstate New York and the Hudson Valley can be terrific for cycling, especially if you're using a mountain bike.

The New York State Department of Transportation maintains three official long-distance bike routes through the state: Route 17, which runs across the southern tier of the state from the Hudson Valley to Lake Erie and in 2004 was renamed Interstate 86 (aka the Quickway); Route 5, which runs across the middle tier of the state from Albany to Buffalo; and Route 9, which runs up the Hudson Valley from Westchester County to the Canadian border. Be prepared to bike alongside automobile traffic along these routes.

New York Bicycling Coalition. The Web site for the New York Bicycling Coalition links to biking organizations, maps, and itineraries. Several bike clubs throughout the state welcome visitors and can provide detailed advice on local routes. Rental shops, which are plentiful in the state's most popular destinations, often feature mountain, tandem, and children's bicycles for $10–$40 a day 518/436–0889; www.nybc.net.

An excellent to find bike trails and paths of all lengths and for all abilities throughout New York State is Pedaling.com. There are maps and directions you can print out, too.

Boating

You can find marinas and yacht clubs throughout New York State, which has some 7,500 lakes and is fringed by the Atlantic Ocean, two of the five Great Lakes (Erie and Ontario), and Lake Champlain. There's also excellent boating along central New York's Finger Lakes, in the many pristine lakes of the Adirondacks, and along the lower Hudson River. Canoeing, kayaking, and rafting are popular in all these destinations, too, as well as in hundreds of smaller rivers, streams, and lakes statewide.

Contact

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Fish and Wildlife. 625 Broadway, Albany, New York, 12233. 518/402–8920; www.dec.ny.gov.

Fishing

Champlain, Ontario, Erie, George, Chautauqua, and the Finger Lakes all offer exceptional lake fishing. Top rivers for casting a line include the Delaware, upper Hudson, Mohawk, Salmon, St. Lawrence, Niagara, Beaver Kill, and Susquehanna. Off of Long Island, the state excels as a saltwater-fishing hub.

Anglers 16 and older must obtain a license (often available at sporting-goods stores) for all freshwater fishing, except for in the Hudson River below Troy Dam. For saltwater fishing you must observe the state's daily limits on the size and number of fish you're permitted to catch. Contact the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for details on licenses, limits, and other fishing regulations.

Contact

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Bureau of Fisheries. 625 Broadway, Albany, New York, 12233. 518/402–8924; www.dec.ny.gov.

Golf

New York abounds with golf courses, and some of the leading facilities around the state have hosted top pro-golf tournaments over the years. Many of the top courses, especially those on Long Island and in Westchester County, are private, but you can often arrange visits in advance if you're a member of a private club back home. Of Golf Digest's top 50 U.S. golf courses, an impressive nine are in New York, but only one of these, Bethpage, is open to the public. Still, you can find some exceptional public courses all around the state.

Contact

New York State Golf Association. 888/697–4223; 315/471–6979; www.nysga.org.

Hiking

Although New York is rife with great hiking regions, two areas stand out: the Adirondacks, with some 42 peaks rising more than 4,000 feet and some of the most challenging hiking in the Northeast; and an 88½-mi swath of the Appalachian Trail cutting through New York's southern Hudson Valley. You'll also find hundreds of miles of trails in the Catskills and among New York's more than 160 state parks. Long Island, with its flat and sandy topography, presents less challenging but still pleasant rambles, many near the ocean or Long Island Sound.

The New York–New Jersey Trail Conference, a consortium of more than 100 regional hiking clubs throughout both states, posts advice and resources on its Web site.

Contacts

Adirondack Mountain Club. 814 Goggins Rd., Lake George, New York, 12845. 800/395–8080; 518/668–4447; www.adk.org.

Appalachian National Scenic Trail. NPS Park Office, Harpers Ferry Center, Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, 25425. 304/535–6278; www.nps.gov/appa.

New York–New Jersey Trail Conference. 156 Ramapo Valley Rd., /U.S. 202, 07430. 201/512–9348; www.nynjtc.org.

National Parks

Probably the most famous of New York's well-visited national parks, monuments, seashores, and forests are Fire Island National Seashore (on the south shore of Long Island) and the Statue of Liberty National Monument (off the southern tip of New York City, in New York Harbor). You'll also find several history- and culture-related national-park sites around the state.

Look into discount passes to save money on park entrance fees. For $80, the National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Annual Pass admits you (and any passengers in your private vehicle) to all national parks, monuments, and recreation areas, as well as other sites run by the National Park Service, for a year. (In parks that charge per person, the pass admits you, your spouse and children, and your parents, when you arrive together.) Camping and parking are extra.

A Senior Pass, for U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are 62 and older, costs $10 for one year, while an Access Pass for persons with disabilities is free for life. To obtain them, you must show proof of age and of U.S. citizenship or permanent residency—such as a U.S. passport, driver's license, or birth certificate—and, if requesting the Access Pass, proof of disability. All passes are available via mail, phone, and the Internet.

Information

National Park Foundation. 202/354–6460; 888/467–2757; www.nationalparks.org.

National Park Service. 202/208–6843; www.nps.gov.

National Parks Conservation Association. 202/223–6722; 800/628–7275; www.npca.org.

Skiing

With one of the East Coast's premier ski facilities, Lake Placid, New York affords skiers plenty of action from early November through mid-April. There are more than 50 downhill ski areas in New York, plus about 120 properties or facilities geared toward cross-country skiing. The Adirondacks and Catskills have the best downhill mountains and cross-country terrain, but you can cross-country ski throughout much of the state. Refer to the state tourism Web site (www.iloveny.com) for more information.

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