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The Westchester 100: Hikes 51-60

July 28, 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.

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(51a) Hike #98b: Halle Ravine Nature Preserve / Pine Terrance Preserve

Halle Ravine Nature Preserve/Pine Terrance Preserve. It is unmarked with only a small pull-off for maybe two cars in front of a dilapidated white fence. But what a find! A flat, gently rising upper path provides great views over the ravine through which a much more interesting path passes back and forth over the stream.

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(51b – 53) Hike #77, 78, 92b: North County Trailway (from Eastview to Yorktown Heights)

I spent an entire sabbath day hiking the North County Trailway, and blogged about it here. I followed the last two miles of the South and then moved on to the North County Trail. This is a Rails-to-Trails conversion project running 40 miles through Westchester following the path of the old New York Central Railroad, Putnam Division.

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Week three of blooming things has produced an array of color – yellow, red, pink, purple, greens, orange!, and grey-fuzzy. I saw deer, snakes, squirrels, more snakes, lots of birds, evidence of owls, and a great big bumble bee that smacked me in the face.

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I crossed streams and rivers,  wetlands, a reservoir and an amazing old train bridge. I passed parks and preserves I have already hiked, and several I plan to. I rested briefly beside a secluded lake. I greeted bikers and hikers and groups of men fishing. I finished my hike at the Trailside Cafe enjoying a very refreshing green apple, cucumber, celery juice. I had walked from Elmsford/Eastview to Yorktown Heights.

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(54) Hike #47: Beaver Dam Sanctuary (Katonah)

I was working on my sermon during this hike. Voice dictation to my phone allowed to me simply speak my thoughts while I walked seven miles of trail up, down and around this sanctuary. Located right across the road from the John Jay Homestead, fields, hills, ponds and the ever present Beaver Dam River make up this trail system.

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This walk was so productive that I had to the chance to go out hiking again in the afternoon with my sons and one of his friends. We went to Cranberry Lake in Valhalla, one of my son’s favorite places in Westchester. His friend claimed this was his first walk in the woods. Ever! Proud to introduce him to the outdoors.

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(55) Hike #53: Graham Hills Park (Pleasantville)

The friend is back! Since last week we have been back to Cranberry Lake Preserve a few times, and this kid loves running outdoors. Today we found Graham Hills Park. The boys met lots of dogs, carried nerf guns to ‘hunt’ wild animals (which mostly meant we were constantly hunting for missing nerd darts), and picked their way through the rusted hulk of an old car. We missed a few side trails an so ended up hiking something close to five or six miles. I brought exhausted boys home.

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(56) Hike #19: Sunny Ridge Preserve (Ossining)

And this brings us to week three of hiking with August’s friend. This pleasant little park offered the boys lots of freedom to run ahead, ford streams, and take in vistas of the Hudson River.

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(57) Hike #1: Arthur G. Burden Preserve (Mt. Kisco)

On Easter Sunday, when worship services and meals were over, my son August and I headed outdoors while his mom took a well deserved nap. The day was so beautiful, and Burden Preserve boasts six ecosystems: wetlands, pond, stream, meadow, upland forest, and rock outcropping. AND MUD. Try as he might, August could not resist taking off his shoes and plunging in. There is such pleasure in sinking toes into soft mud. He then hiked the last mile or so back to our car barefoot. We were much slower this way, but he talked about and experienced everything he stepped on.

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(58-59) Hike #43 and #68: Leatherstocking Trail and Sheldrake Preserve (Mamaroneck); and Nature Study Woods  (New Rochelle) and Twin Lakes Park (Eastchester) 

This was a sabbath day adventure. I had wanted to walk the Colonial Greenway ever since moving to Westchester. It is a 15 mile loop from Saxon Woods Park in Mamaroneck, through New Rochelle, Eastchester and then back to Saxon Woods in Scarsdale, paralleling I-95 on the southern side and including the Hutchison River Pathway on the north. It includes not only Saxon Woods Park, but Sheldrake Preserve,  Nature Study Woods, Twin Lakes Park, Ward Acres Woods, Pinebrook Park, James Johnson Nature Conservancy and Weinberg Nature Center. A map of the whole route can be found here.

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While the Colonial Greenway itself in not one of the Westchester 100, several of the parks are. I had hiked the center-connecting trail last month with a friend. Today I did the entire outer loop, taking my time to explore each of the parks as I passed through them. Lots of yellow flowers.

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(60) Hike #29: Hardscrabble Wilderness Area (Pleasantville)

Today was was cinco de mayo, so after school my son and I found a local place in Pleasantville where we could partake of tacos and taquitos.

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This was another father-son day. We broke all the rules. We left the trail, we took risks, and we got wet. For some reason traversing the park IN THE WATER seemed a good idea, so, after crossing to safety on this and other logs, August jumped off and jumped in and then proceeded to “climb the falls.” This was absolutely the best day! Check out the video…

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