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The Westchester 100: Hikes 1-10

May 18, 2013

In 2009, the New York – New Jersey Trail Conference published Walkable Westchestera marvelous guide to where to walk in this beautiful county where I live. The trail guides and commentary were compiled by Jane and Walt Daniels. Inspired by the book, the Westchester Trails Association created The Westchester 100, which involves hiking the more than 600 miles of trails in over 180 parks, preserves, reservations, arboretums and sanctuaries in Westchester County.

This is the record of my progress.

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(1) Hike #91: Rye Town Park, Oakland Beach, Rye Beach, Playland (Rye)

As soon as we moved to Westchester in 2011, former Long Island neighbors (now in Rye) took us on a tour. Local ice cream in hand, we walked from the Park to Playland to get a feel for the region we had chosen to live in. It was also nice to realize how close we still were to the Long Island Sound: we can actually see our old neighborhood from the top of the Dragon Roller Coaster. Rye Playland, the boardwalk and the beach have been regular haunts ever since.

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(2) Hike #9: Rye Marshlands Conservancy (Rye)

In keeping with the orientation we got from our friends in Rye, the Marshlands was our first nature walk when our son August took up Birdwatching. In 2011 and 2012 we took several hikes with our bird books in hand.

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(3) Hike #51: Cranberry Lake Preserve (Valhalla)

Cranberry Lake Preserve in home to us. We have hiked the trails dozens of times, and August has participated in the summer nature camps. Noelle is on the Board of the Friends of Cranberry Lake, and our first public action in White Plains was organizing children dressed in animal costumes to demonstrate outside of the Country Center against proposed budget cuts which would have eliminated the curator positions in the country preserves.

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(4) Hike #39: St. Matthews Church Woodlands (Bedford Village)

This was our first intentional family hike as part of the Westchester 100, meaning we were getting out of our own neighborhood for the purpose of walking in a new place and working through the hikes in Jane and Walt Daniels’ Walkable Westchester. Maintained by the St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, it was a perfect adventure – complete with superhero costume and cape.

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(5) Hike #22: Brinton Brook Sanctuary, Croton Trail, Jane E. Lytle Arboretum (Croton)

From the high point on this trail I could see the Hudson River, look over Peekskill, and spot Bear Mountain and the Bear Mountain Bridge. I forgot to bring water.

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(6): Hike #99b: Croton River Gorge Park (Croton)

A lovely morning walk along the river and strenuous climb to the top of the dam (I didn’t realize there was a longer, gentler path).

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and Hike #97a: Pepsico Sculpture Garden (Purchase), Crawford-Rye Hills Park (Rye Brook) and Greenburgh Nature Center (Scarsdale)

OK. So the Sculpture Park is closed for repair and renovation until 2015, so I replaced it on Hike #97a with Greenburgh Nature Center. August wanted to lead a hike, and he knew the nature center well (we are members), so he took me through all the paths. He was so proud. He wanted a picture of these flowers to remember our visit.

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This tree stands at the center of Crawford-Rye Hills Park.

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(7) Hike #11: Herbert L Nichols Preserve (Armonk)

Noelle and I took this as an early morning walk after August was off to school. We were so busy talking we forgot to take a photo.

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(8) Hike #25: Gedney Park (Millwood)

Miles of trails surround ball fields and playgrounds. August proudly crossed a river several times on fallen trees without ever getting muddy. But most of all he loved shedding shirt and shoes and playing in the grass. This hike is famous because I brought home a tick which embedded itself in my stomach overnight. Yuck!

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(9) Hike #15: Pruyn Sanctuary (Millwood)

Back to Millwood to defy the ticks and enjoy the swamp. Saw a half dozen deer on this morning stroll.

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(10) Hike #40: Silver Lake Preserve (Harrison)

Silver Lake Preserve is 167 acres of trails and lake just a mile from our house. It wanders over The Hills, the site of an important skirmish on October 28, 1776 during the Battle of White Plains, and the home of a Westchester’s first free black community, which included houses, a church, school and cemetery. The Hills (Merritt Hill and Hatfield Hill), now part of the Town of Harrison, were originally part of a land grant for the Purchase Friends Community. The Friends (Quakers) voluntarily freed their slaves. To cite Jane and Walt Daniels, “Many residents were literate and recorded their views in letters to family members. Their 6.5 acre cemetery, Stony Hill Cemetery, is now owned by Mt. Hope A.M.E. Zion Church of White Plains. It contains  the remains of approximately 200 residents as well as many Civil War veterans.” The history of the congregation I currently serve includes the donation of the schoolhouse to this community.

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