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The Westchester 100: Hikes 41-50

April 19, 2014

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.

Note: the first half of these hikes were taken Fall 2013, the latter half this spring 2014

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(41 and 42) Hike #69 and #70: Bronx River Reservation (12.3 miles from Kensico Dam in Valhalla to Palmer Road in Bronxville)

I began this walk on a Sunday afternoon with my son. Noelle dropped us off at Kensico Dam and we began our walk South toward Bronxville. It was the middle of the heat wave, and August gave out after only two miles. I kept going as far as the Scarsdale Train Station, where I had enough time for a dish of ice cream before being picked up. According to the inscription on the Valhalla Bridge, there are thirty-seven bridges and viaducts and sixty foot bridges on this twelve mile walk.

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I repeated this routine four days later on my sabbath day, walking from Bronxville North toward Scarsdale. On the Southern half of this route the almost inaudible Bronx River of the Northern part becomes a babbling, falling companion everywhere. The photo below is the dam at Crestwood Lake as the river drops into Tuckahoe.

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(43) Hike #61: Sprain Ridge Park (Yonkers)

There are more than nine miles of trails in the Sprain Ridge Park, many of them for mountain bikes. My son and I spent a good while in this park in his first “off road” bike adventure: I walked, and he rode. At the top of one ridge we stepped out of the park into this break and he took off down the path. Can you spot him? He’s the tiny red dot lying down in the tick infested grass!

We spent a delightful several hours here and decided that this was a park we were bringing his mom back to. LOTS of up and down over rocks. There is also plenty of shaded picnic areas and grills, which seem generally available on a weeknight. Before leaving, August joined a group of older kids playing on the playground behind the pool area.

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(44) Hike #60: Saxon Woods Park and Weinberg Nature Center (Scarsdale)

On a summer afternoon when we needed to give “mom” some quiet time in the house, August and I headed out with the goal of at least a four mile walk. We took ourselves on some previously unexplored paths in Saxon Woods (we usually stay close to the pool) and wound our way along both sides of the Hutchison River Parkway (named after Anne Hutchison). The world has become so interesting for this seven year old that we can’t make much better than a one mile an hour “saunter” – stopping to look at snakes, frogs, spiders, interesting leaves, and stunning sunlight.

August also got a new knife yesterday – his second since his birthday two weeks ago. This one has a blade-lock so that he can whittle. Whittling is his “new favorite thing,” so our hiking was punctuated by periods of standing or sitting on rocks and shaving wood.

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Coming out the southwest corner of the park at Saxon Woods Golf Course, we crossed the parkway and entered Weinberg Nature Center. There we picked fresh berries and enjoyed the smell of “green” until “mom” could pick us up.

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And that was it for 2013. In March 2014 I continued my pursuit of the Westchester 100 with my 45th hike

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(45) Hike # 49: Arthur G. Butler Memorial Preserve (Mt. Kisko)

Oh what a long winter is has been! Long, cold, unpredictable, with a malaise that affected health and spirits. But what a pleasure to be outside and walking the land where I live. In just 20 minutes I remembered who I was, a self that had felt dormant during the winter months. My pulse quickened, I broke a sweat, and I found that familiar walking rhythm that is just not same on the city street or the neighborhood.

Butler Preserve is 6.6 miles of trail up, down and around local rock formation with running water all around. Very little green was visible on this, my first hike of the year. Snow was still to be found in several places, and the water was cold.

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I will remember this hike particularly because during my fifth mile I received a call from a friend in Istanbul asking whether I could officiate at his wedding. My first question was whether this involved a trip to Turkey. It does not. But we have a date in October and I will long remember this conjunction of the great outdoors and the globally connected planet.

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(46a) Hike #99a: Larchmont Reservoir AND James G. Johnson Conservancy

This summer I am going to trace the Colonial Greenway, 15 miles of trail through Scarsdale, Mamaroneck and New Rochelle. Today I followed the center trail, or Blue Blaze, which extends from one end of the Leatherstocking Trail in Mamaroneck to the Hutchison River Parkway in Scarsdale, along the way passing through the James G. Johnson Conservancy and Ward Acres Park. This photo is of my friend Anne just below the Larchmont Reservoir and Sheldrake Lake area in Wykagyl.

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Westchester is full of small gems like this park. The Sheldrake River, which feeds the reservoir where this photo was taken, was  the source of drinking water for Larchmont from the 1750s until the 1970s. It has seen a saw mill, a grist mill and a cotton mill: an original mill stone is still visible next to the old stone toll house near Goodliffe Pond. There is such surprising beauty hidden all over our county. The fresh air did us good.

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(46b) Hike #94a: Bye Preserve, Carolin’s Grove and Clark Preserve (Pound Ridge)

There is a longer story here, told in my sabbath day reflections for these weeks. The following hike (47) took place on the same day as the previous (46a). These three pocket parks were part of a Pound Ridge experience that I simply stumbled upon.

 

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(47) Hike # 21: Warburg Park (Millwood)

Early afternoon found Noelle and I finishing summer camp plans for our son August, and beginning to plan some vacation time for our family. After that, we picked up August from school and went out for our first family hike of the year. We settled on the very accesible Warburg Park in Millwood, just off the Pine Bridge Road exit on the Taconic Parkway. This park is a set of loops around the village composting center, tracing the streams that feed into Wood Duck Pond. The trails pass through several habitats, including vernal ponds, one of which was still completely frozen over and on which August was comfortable standing. It also contains impressive stone formation which led to off trail adventures, rock climbing, and “cave” exploring. August’s imagination was fully alive.

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When we returned to the trail head we used the Yelp app to find a good place to eat, and found ourselves minutes later at Maya Riviera in Briarcliff Manor – sitting beside a beautiful gas fireplace and enjoying excellent Mexican food.

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(48) Hike # 44: Ward Acres Park (New Rochelle)

I passed through Ward Acres Park as part of my walk on the Colonial Greenway. I particularly noted the community garden that is located in this park which is best known for its dog walks. The congregation that I serve is at this time applying for a grant to break ground for a community garden on our property, as well as a series of workshops on healthy eating, cooking, canning, jarring, and preserving.

Although we just passed though, both coming and going we took different trails each time, exploring different parts of the park. This may be only the second park that I have failed to ale a picture of, though.

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(49) Hike #14: Pound Ridge Town Park (Pound Ridge)

Part of my Pound Ridge Adventure. Though the first impression of this park included a lovely pond, I mostly saw the tennis courts, basketball courts, and pool facilities. Behind all of these are extensive trails full of wildlife and plenty of opportunity to be lost in nature.

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(50) Hike #64: Westchester Wilderness Walk (Pound Ridge)

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I want to consider this as hike #50 in my pursuit of the Westchester 100, although this was the first hike in a whole day wandering all over Pound Ridge, from tiny parks (between one and two miles of trails) like Bye Preserve, Carolin’s Grove (photo above) and Clark Preserve to larger parks like the Pound Ridge Town Park and the Westchester Wilderness Walk. The later comprises 6.7 miles of interconnected trails traversing vernal ponds and marshland, through forest and elevated ridges. It was beautiful to hop from rock to rock through all the spring wetness (photo below), and taste the snow melt running over rocks on its way down to the Mianus River Gorge and on to the Long Island Sound. The paths are well marked and easy to follow, ideal for hiking with children. Helpful and humorous signs can be found all along the trail, and the southern loop sports a series of lettered boxes containing ink stamps so children can map and mark their progress. The park has a bit of everything. I will definitely return later in the year to observe the developed habitats.

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This completes the first 50 hike in the Westchester 100. They amount to over 215 miles of hiking through something like 12000 acres of green space. Hooray! 

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See my other hikes

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