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The Westchester 100: Hikes 31-40

July 21, 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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I am particularly proud of the hikes in this post. The ten hikes below follow the Hudson River south from the peak of Manitou Mountain in Peekskill to the downtown boardwalk in Yonkers: 16 miles of shoreline and, if one includes the large parks on the river, more than 40 miles of trails. Someday the waterfront villages will finish the proposed Westchester RiverWalk and it will be possible to walk the entire 52 miles from Peekskill to the Bronx. For now, these hikes represent the river as it is open to the public. I feel a great sense of accomplishment with this post.



(31) Hike #50: Camp Smith Trail (Peekskill)

Hiking the Camp Smith Trail was the most satisfying experience of my first 40 hikes. This was a vigorous 4.8 miles (and more), and entirely fun. (I think I startled grouse! Is that possible?) Noelle and August dropped me off at the Bear Mountain Tollhouse on Route 6/206 and I began my climb. Jane and Walt Daniels suggest that the more steadily difficult climb northwards provides more invitations to stop and take in the view than the climb heading south. I believe it. The first ten minutes were an exciting breeze of high elevations overlooking the road. Then it became work. I’m glad I brought water and nuts!

My goal was to climb the mountains, descend to the highway, cross the bridge and walk into Bear Mountain State Park on the far side of the river. Noelle and August were going to play over there and take out a boat on Hessian Lake. Well, by the time I was standing for the photo below, they were on their way up to the top of Bear Mountain. An hour later when I reached the park they were just making the top, and had still to come down. This left me plenty of time for an italian sausage with peppers and onions, a very cold beer, and to lay beside the water. A wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.




(32) Hike #79: Annsville Preserve, Peekskill River Park, Charles Point Park (Peekskill, Buchanan)

In contrast to the Camp Smith Trail, these three stops along the river are the kind of parks I was least excited about. Small parks and short walks. Yet each one reminded me to make the time and enjoy the walk. From the Annseville Paddle Sport Center (by the circle at 9 & 6/206) down the Preserve is a stretch of road I drive by all the time. The satisfaction of having taken it a 2 miles an hours is immense. The Peekskill River Park has shown me a new cafe to stop in for coffee, and showed me a park filled with sculpture, like the diver below. Charles Point provided the immensely peaceful and picturesque Fleischmann Pier.






(33) Hike #80: Shore Trail and Montrose Point State Forest (Verplank, Montrose)

A several mile shoreline trail with a southernly view leads to the sprawling State Forest. Our whole family made this visit on a beautiful day in June. At the southern part of the Forest we stumbled into and walked through a Catholic retreat  center where a large birthday party was underway. It is possible to pass through here and on to Georges Island, but I retraced my steps to get our car and came back to pick up Noelle and August (they were tired out). This hike involved more up-and-down (and ducking under fallen trees) that Noelle expected.

A confession: we both forgot our cameras. I found this little orange guy in another park along the river. I’ll update this photo when I get the chance.

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Moving south, the next hike would be George’s Island Park (Montrose) [See my Hikes 21-30]

Up next would be Oscawana Island Park, and Graff Sanctuary (Cortland) [Se my Hikes 21-30]


(34) Hike #81: CrOssining: Croton Waterfront to Ossining (Ossining)

So this hike exemplifies the advantage/disadvantage of my hiking alone. Starting at Croton Landing Park and heading north, the riverwalk extends .3 miles before dead ending and doubling back (.6 total). Then starting out again, a bike path traces a route south from Croton to Ossining, and then continuing along Route 9 to the Old Croton Aqueduct (another 3.8 miles). Since it connects these two towns it has come to be known as CrOssining. Since I was on my own, I had to double back this part as well to get back to my car.  So the total walk was 8.2 miles instead of the 3.8 described by the Daniels. But again, like Hike #32 above, this traces a route I drive all the time, and the satisfaction of having taken it slow will be lasting. Even driving by now I can recall the experience of walking.




(35) Hike #82: Crawbuckie Nature Preserve and Ossining Waterfront (Ossining)

FAR FROM OBVIOUS describes how to get to this park. There are no signs until you are at the park. Simply take Beach Rd. west off Route 9 north of Ossining. It looks almost like a service road but reveals miles of beautiful, secluded homes. At the very end is this gem of a preserve. I would put Crawbuckie on a short list of places to take friends for a short but interesting walk.

I came out here on a Saturday. It was a sermon writing day, on the text of Amos 8: 1-12: “This is what the Lord God showed me – a basket of summer fruit. God said, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.”  With Amos’s basket of summer fruit in mind, I took an early morning hike and foraged wild berries for breakfast, large handfuls of sweet raspberries. “These days do not last,” which was only one of the prophet’s points.

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Next up would be Rockwood Hall, another favorite I will invite friends to visit. [See my Hikes 11-20]


(36) Hike #83: Kingsland Point Park and Pierson Park (Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown)

So this is a combination we have used several times along the Hudson: August brought his bike and rode circles around me while I walked the shoreline. He has become an enthusiastic biker, and the short, self-contained parks on this list gave him just the right amount of freedom and constraint to ride without getting lost. These two parks were perfect on an afternoon threatening rain.




(37) Hike #84: Matthiessen Park and Scenic Hudson Park (Irvington)

I first visited Matthiessen Park on the day I preached my neutral pulpit for the search committee at White Plains Presbyterian. After worship at the Irvington Presbyterian Church and a lunch/interview, Noelle and I headed down to the water to talk about our morning. Water seems to play a role in all of our big decision, no less this one. The park had a nice playground that our then four year old son was content to play on by himself so we could talk.

Scenic Hudson Park, just to the south, is a good example of what future sections of the proposed Westchester RiverWalk will look like: sculpted, paved walks on public land.




(38) Hike #85: Ardsley Waterfront and Dobbs Ferry Waterfront Park (Ardsley and Dobbs Ferry)

The Ardsley Waterfront actually describes a walk from the Ardsley Train Station through Mercy College and on through The Landing Condominiums. This provides access to a small, uncared for waterfront with lots of evidence of small fires and parties. A walk out onto the stone piles provides a good perspective from which to look north and south at the places one has (or will) visit along the River, as well as views of Palisades on the opposite shore.

This is Willow Point in Dobbs Ferry. Can you guess how it was named?




(39) Hike #93b: Otter Creek Preserve (Mamaroneck) and Hike #93a: Rowley’s Bridge Trail (Hastings)

OK. Otter Creek is on the Long Island Sound, not the Hudson River. In the Westchester 100 it counts as only 1/2 a hike, so I have paired it here with the Rowley’s Bridge Trail and Hubbard Trail Extension, which also only count as 1/2. This trail was so overgrown on the day I hiked it that I stained my pants pushing my way through the wet foilage. The attraction is the view from below of this 100-foot stone-arch masonry bridge  designed in 1892 by Samuel Cooper. This is the bridge that allows Warburton Avenue to cross Rowley’s Brook. Hand ropes along the trail are necessary to climb safely on the uneven trail. August would have felt like an explorer had he been with me.




(40) Hike #86: Yonkers North Hudson Promenade and Esplanade Park (Yonkers)

And finally, Yonkers. The Promenade is a half mile paved walk along Route 9 between Hudson Fulton Park and Otis Park, and the Esplanade is downtown Yonkers contribution to the Westchester RiverWalk.





Check out my other posts about The Westchester 100:

Hikes 1-10 (featuring hikes within 20 minutes of White Plains)

Hikes 11-20 (including most of the parks along the Long Island Sound)

Hikes 21-30 (including a few adventures with August)

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