Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Sleepy Hollow to Dobbs Ferry

September 24, 2016 – Sleepy Hollow, NY to Dobbs Ferry, NY

Difficulty: easy

Length: approximately 5 miles

Route type: linear

This is the third leg of my section hike on the 26 mile Westchester County portion of the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail. You can check out the first leg of my hike here and the second leg here. Another beautiful day for hiking on this September morning. Temperatures were in the low 70’s and no rain. We parked one vehicle at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, which would be our ending point and drove back to Gory Brook Road in Sleepy Hollow where our hike would begin.

Gory Brook Road
Gory Brook Road

After parking the vehicle, we walked towards the chained off Section of Gory Brook Road (above) and turned left onto the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail. We began our hike by proceeding south along the trail.

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Sleepy Hollow
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Sleepy Hollow

We walked past the gate onto Gory Brook Road.

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Sleepy Hollow
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Sleepy Hollow

The gate has the OCA lettering on it which is a nice touch.

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Sleepy Hollow
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Sleepy Hollow

Crossing the road, we encountered ventilator shaft 12.

ventilator shaft 12
ventilator shaft 12

As always, the aqueduct is a nice easy, mostly level walk.

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Sleepy Hollow
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Sleepy Hollow

After a short walk, we crossed over Bedford Road and into the Sleepy Hollow HS parking lot.

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Sleepy Hollow
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Sleepy Hollow

The OCA trail goes through the back lot of the school which is evident by the sign.

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Sleepy Hollow
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Sleepy Hollow

When we reached the end of the parking lot we turned left and walked along the side of the high school. When we reached the back of the auditorium we turned right at the rear of the building, bordered by a fence and the school.

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Sleepy Hollow
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Sleepy Hollow

We followed the blacktop around the back of the school until we were walking towards the cafeteria and once again on the aqueduct.

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Sleepy Hollow
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Sleepy Hollow

We crossed Cobb Lane and continued along the tranquil path, now in Tarrytown.

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Tarrytown
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Tarrytown

We crossed McKeel Avenue and Hamilton Place, then came to ventilator shaft 13.

ventilator shaft 13
ventilator shaft 13

After crossing Neperan Road and East Elizabeth Street, we came to East Franklin Street where the OCA trail veers right away from the aqueduct. We walked towards Route 9 and headed south along Broadway (Route 9).

East Franklin Street - Tarrytown
East Franklin Street – Tarrytown
Broadway (Route 9) - Tarrytown
Broadway (Route 9) – Tarrytown

We walked on Route 9 until we got to Leroy Avenue and turned left.

Leroy Avenue - Tarrytown
Leroy Avenue – Tarrytown

There we caught up with the aqueduct which was on the right.

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail - Tarrytown
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Tarrytown

Walking along the aqueduct which was tucked between homes and businesses on either side, we continued on.

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail - Tarrytown
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Tarrytown

It’s always nice to see some wildlife on the trail.

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail - Tarrytown
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Tarrytown

We came to ventilator shaft 14, which is located right near Route 119.

ventilator shaft 14
ventilator shaft 14

The OCA trail once again veers right, away from the actual location of the aqueduct at Route 119. That is due to the construction of the NYS thruway, which cuts right through it. We crossed Route 119, turned left onto Route 9, heading south and crossing over the thruway.

Route 9 - Tarrytown
Route 9 – Tarrytown

When we came to the Honda dealership, we turned left onto Walter Street and proceeded up to Sheldon Avenue. Walking past Short Street, the aqueduct is now visible on the right. We continued following the OCA trail and then crossed Route 9.

crossing Route 9 - Tarrytown
crossing Route 9 – Tarrytown

After crossing Route 9, we entered the Lyndhurst estate property. Along the left side of the aqueduct is the indoor pool building (also known as a natatorium).

pool building
pool building

The OCA trail cuts right through the property.

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail - Lyndhurst estate property
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Lyndhurst estate property

Lyndhurst is a beautiful place and it is where we took our first break. The grounds are very scenic and well kept. They also have a Gothic Revival castle.

Lyndhurst Castle
Lyndhurst Castle
Lyndhurst Castle
Lyndhurst Castle

We sat on a bench facing this majestic castle and enjoyed a bite to eat along with some refreshments. I have visited this property countless times over the years and always enjoy the tranquility that this setting provides.

Lyndhurst estate
Lyndhurst estate

After a pleasant break, we got back on the trail and almost immediately came upon ventilator shaft 15.

ventilator shaft 15
ventilator shaft 15

This part of the aqueduct which passes through Irvington, is bordered by some grand estate properties, some of which are no longer residential. Long ago, palatial mansions lined the Hudson River, most of which are no longer standing. We walked alongside a high stone wall with a barbed wire fence above it. On the other side of that wall was the former Belvedere property.

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail - Tarrytown/Irvington
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Tarrytown/Irvington

Visible from the OCA is a brick tower with a cone shaped roof.

brick tower - Belvedere
brick tower – Belvedere

After crossing over several Irvington streets, we came to Villa Lewaro, the former estate of Madam C. J. Walker. She was an African American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and a political and social activist. Eulogized as the first female self-made millionaire in America, she became one of the wealthiest African American women in the country. The estate is quite lavish to say the least, but from the aqueduct, you only get a partial view of the rear.

Villa Lewaro
Villa Lewaro

Crossing Main Street, we arrived at ventilator shaft 16.

ventilator shaft 16
ventilator shaft 16

Along this stretch we saw some nice homes, a long and high brick wall and an ornate wrought iron fence.

high brick wall
high brick wall
wrought iron fence
wrought iron fence

We walked by the Nevis Estate, built by James Hamilton, son of Alexander Hamilton and named after the West Indies Island where his father had been born.

Nevis Estate
Nevis Estate

As we approached our stop point, which was Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, we came to ventilator shaft 17.

ventilator shaft 17
ventilator shaft 17

Once past the ventilator shaft, we entered the parking area for Mercy College and back to the vehicle. We drove back to Gory Brook Road and picked up the car we had parked there when our hike began. I hope you enjoyed today’s hike, I sure did. Don’t forget to follow my blog and stay informed about hikes in the Hudson Valley and beyond. Until next time folks, keep on trekking.

keep on trekking
keep on trekking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Croton Aqueduct – Ossining Weir Chamber

September 17, 2016 – Ossining, NY

I planned my 26 mile section hike of the Old Croton Aqueduct to coincide with a tour of the weir chamber in Ossining, NY. That is why my stopping point for the first leg and starting point for the second leg was the Ossining weir. The tour was given courtesy of Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct. They conduct tours occasionally and I am glad that I attended this most informative tour. First off, they showed a short film about the history of the aqueduct. There were approximately 70 people in attendance so they broke us up into two groups. I made sure that I was in the first group that made its way to the weir. I had a hike to do following my visit to the weir and did not want to sit around waiting when I could be hiking.

Old Croton Aqueduct - Ossining Weir Chamber
Old Croton Aqueduct – Ossining Weir Chamber

The weirs along the Old Croton Aqueduct were structures that were built right over or next to the aqueduct, enabling direct access to the aqueduct tunnel. This allowed for maintenance and repair by diverting the waters to a nearby waterway.

Ossining Weir
Ossining Weir

The Ossining Weir is twenty feet long, ten feet wide, and thirty feet high, including the portion of the weir that is built underground for the waste-water conduit.

Ossining Weir
Ossining Weir

The Ossining weir was a later addition (1882) and a modernization of the system. Upon entering, inside to the left, is an effluent valve wheel. It was used in order to allow the water coming southward in the tunnel to be diverted into a 4 foot drain pipe which led to the Sing Sing Kill under the arched aqueduct bridge.

effluent valve wheel
effluent valve wheel
effluent valve wheel
effluent valve wheel

The wheel opens and closes the release valve which is directly underneath.  It would keep water pressure from building up on the gate or from overburdening the tunnel with water.

release valve
release valve

The water is released through the above opening, which in turn flows through this 4 foot drain pipe under the arched aqueduct bridge.

drain pipe
drain pipe
drain pipe
drain pipe

And then flows into the Kill Brook via this stone splash block.

stone splash block
stone splash block

Walking down the stairs and turning right, now looking south into the tunnel. This part of the tunnel is built into the arch bridge which carries the water over the Sing Sing Kill.

looking south
looking south

This steel gate is lowered to divert water away from the south side of the tunnel for routine maintenance and/or repairs.

steel gate
steel gate

Looking north through the tunnel, this catwalk was added for visitors to walk on during tours.

catwalk - looking north
catwalk – looking north

Walking to the end of the catwalk, still looking north. Notice the waterline that is visible along the side of the tunnel. They incorporated the rock of the hillside as the roof.

looking north
looking north

A look up at the inside of the weir. You can see the ventilating hole on the brick lined ceiling. Also visible is the steel beam that supports the weight of the steel gate.

Ossining Weir - interior
Ossining Weir – interior

I hope that you enjoyed the virtual tour of the inside of the Ossining weir chamber. Don’t forget to follow my blog to keep up to date on my ramblings throughout the Hudson Valley and beyond. Until next time folks, keep a steady flow.

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Ossining Weir to Sleepy Hollow

September 17, 2016 – Ossining, NY – Sleepy Hollow, NY

Difficulty: easy

Length: approximately 5 miles

Route type: linear

This is the second leg of my quest to hike the 26 mile Westchester County portion of the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail. You can check out the first leg of my hike here. It was a beautiful day for hiking on this September morning. Temperatures were in the mid to high 70’s and no rain. We parked one vehicle at Gory Brook Road in Sleepy Hollow, which would be our ending point and continued up to Ossining where our hike would begin. Since this section includes several roadwalks and places where the trail veers away from the actual location of the aqueduct, it was imperative to have an OCA map. Our hike started underground with a tour of the Ossining Weir.

Ossining Weir
Ossining Weir

It was cool to see what the aqueduct looked like beneath our feet since we were hiking the trail.

Ossining Weir
Ossining Weir

At 5am on June 22, 1842, Croton water first entered the aqueduct. John B. Jervis who was the chief engineer on this project, along with a couple of assistants, took a rowboat dubbed the “Croton Maid” into the newly completed aqueduct to inspect the work with a small amount of water flowing through it. Twenty two hours later they emerged on the Bronx shore of the Harlem River. They could not cross the High Bridge (originally the Aqueduct Bridge) which was still under construction.

Old Croton Aqueduct
Old Croton Aqueduct

This massive steel door was lowered to cut off or divert the flow of water.

steel door
steel door

It was pretty cool to see the underbelly of the aqueduct. I was tempted to walk deep into the tunnel, but I prefer to do my hiking above ground.

Old Croton Aqueduct
Old Croton Aqueduct

Once satisfied with the images captured underground, we hit the trail. We began by heading south over the Double Arch Bridge which spans the Sing Sing Kill.

Double Arch Bridge
Double Arch Bridge

After crossing the bridge, we walked on a paved path bordered by homes and businesses on either side.

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Ossining
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Ossining

Then we came to Main Street and we crossed over.

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Ossining
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Ossining

We continued to follow the paved trail that was bordered by buildings…….

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Ossining
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Ossining
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Ossining
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Ossining

We came out on Maple Place and turned right towards Spring Street, then continued south on Spring Street until we reached Everett Ave. There we saw ventilator shaft number 8.

ventilator shaft number 8
ventilator shaft number 8

From this point all the ventilator shafts are numbered. I do not know why they didn’t bother to number the ones north of here. This one is also slightly different than the others.

ventilator shaft number 8
ventilator shaft number 8

It is more ornate than the others I have seen along the trail and apparently the builder was very proud of his work. He engraved his name into the stone.

ventilator shaft number 8
ventilator shaft number 8

We crossed the street and walked up the stone steps into a park.

stone steps
stone steps

We walked diagonally through the park on a paved path.

paved path
paved path

 

We crossed the street to Nelson Park and walked on the paved path along the northern part of the park. The path veered to the right near Highland Avenue (Route 9) and we walked towards the southern boundary of Nelson Park, where we then crossed Route 9. We followed a footpath into the parking lot of the apartment complex and in the rear of the lot we thrust into the woods. Once again on the aqueduct and off the street.

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Ossining
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Ossining

It was a pleasant woods walk with only the sound of a distant lawnmower permeating the landscape. After a short while we came upon ventilator shaft number 9.

ventilator shaft number 9
ventilator shaft number 9

We continued walking along the aqueduct, crossing Scarborough Road and then came out on Long Hill West where we turned right and walked towards Route 9. The trail here diverts away from the aqueduct due to it being on private property. The aqueduct continues on the west side of Route 9, just past the Clear View School (formerly the Scarborough School). The map avoids walking along Route 9 due to the heavy traffic. The suggested route is substantially longer so I took my chances along Route 9.

Route 9
Route 9

The shoulder is narrow, but it was mowed, so that made it easier to avoid getting hit by a car. I also wanted to capture an image of the gate near the main entrance to the Scarborough School, which I have passed many times by car. It is the former entrance to the Beechwood Estate which was owned by Frank A. Vanderlip. He was president of the National City Bank of New York (now Citibank) from 1909 to 1919, and was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury from 1897 to 1901. Vanderlip is known for his part in founding the Federal Reserve System.

Scarborough School
Scarborough School

While Vanderlip was vice president of the First National City Bank, he had two columns from the headquarters at 55 Wall Street shipped to Beechwood. He had the columns placed two-thirds above ground in Beechwood’s entranceway. Among the guests the Vanderlips hosted at the house were Woodrow Wilson, Henry Ford, Sarah Bernhardt, Annie Oakley, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John D. Rockefeller, and Isadora Duncan. The Wright Brothers even landed a plane on the property.

Scarborough School
Scarborough School

History lesson is over, let’s get back to hiking. Once past the Clear View School, we turned right onto River Road and we caught up with the aqueduct again. It wasn’t long until we reached ventilator shaft 10.

ventilator shaft 10
ventilator shaft 10

From here the trail was discernible, even with several road crossings. Signage was plentiful and since we were walking on the actual aqueduct, it was easy to follow. We came to a road crossing on Country Club Lane and proceeded past the gate.

gate
gate

We walked along the aqueduct until we came to a monument on the left side of the trail, just before we crossed Archville Bridge. This monument was moved from its original spot on Route 9 to its present location and the informational plaques added.

monument
monument

The plaques denote a little history of the aqueduct and the bridge. Click on the ensuing images to enlarge.

Then we crossed over Route 9 on the Archville Bridge.

Archville Bridge
Archville Bridge

This bridge has some interesting design features. Click here for more info.

Archville Bridge
Archville Bridge

After crossing the bridge, we continued hiking until we reached ventilator shaft 11.

ventilator shaft 11
ventilator shaft 11

We wanted to take a break here, but there was nowhere to sit. I suggested that we continue until we reached the weir behind the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery because I knew there were some benches made from logs there. So on we trekked, crossing over Route 117.

bridge over Route 117
bridge over Route 117

Soon we came to the weir that I mentioned earlier and it was time for lunch.

Sleepy Hollow Weir
Sleepy Hollow Weir

After taking a well deserved break along with having some lunch, we were on the move again. This part of the aqueduct is very familiar to me. I have walked this section since I was a kid. It is also a very picturesque section as well that rises up to 80 feet to span over the Pocantico River.

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Sleepy Hollow
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Sleepy Hollow

Separated by a stone wall, the aqueduct began to parallel Gory Brook Road, which is very familiar to those that grew up in this area.

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Sleepy Hollow
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Sleepy Hollow

When we got to the chain that runs across Gory Brook Road, we ended our hike there. That is where we had parked one of the vehicles earlier. We got in the car and drove back to Ossining where we began the hike, to pick up the other vehicle. I hope you enjoyed part 2 of my 26 mile Old Croton Aqueduct Trail section hike. Until next time folks, keep on trekking……

keep on trekking
keep on trekking

 

 

 

 

 

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Croton Gorge Park to Sing Sing Kill Greenway

September 11, 2016 – Cortlandt, NY – Ossining, NY

Difficulty: easy

Length: approximately 5 miles

Route type: linear

The Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park is a linear park which runs from Van Cortlandt Park at the Bronx County/City of Yonkers border to the Croton Dam in Cortlandt. The scenic path over the underground aqueduct winds through urban centers and small communities. It passes near numerous historic sites, preserves, a museum highlighting the construction of the Aqueduct, and many homes. The Aqueduct’s grassy ceiling provides abundant recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. While primarily for walking and running, parts of the trail are suitable for horseback riding, biking (except during “mud season”), bird watching, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing.

Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park
Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park

I grew up using “the aqueduct” as a method of travel and recently decided to hike the entire 26.2 mile Westchester section of the trail from Croton Gorge Park to Van Cortlandt Park on the Bronx/Westchester border.  My plan is to section hike it in consecutive weekends. This is the first portion of my hike. Since there are some roadwalks on this hike and some sections of the trail break away from the actual aqueduct itself,  I made sure to obtain an OCA – Westchester Section Map which sells for 5 bucks.

Since this is a linear hike, it is necessary to spot cars. This means parking one vehicle at the finishing point and another vehicle at the starting point. For this section of the hike one vehicle was parked at the Joseph G. Caputo Community Center in Ossining and the second car at Croton Gorge Park.

Croton Dam
Croton Dam

After arriving at Croton Gorge Park, we headed out towards the trailhead which is located just north of the restrooms and up the hill. The service road switchbacks up the hill, but we ended up taking a shortcut up a somewhat steep side trail that brought us up to the aqueduct trailhead a little quicker.

aqueduct trailhead
aqueduct trailhead

Almost immediately we came to the first of 21 stone ventilator shafts that line the trail. They were placed roughly a mile apart along the northern part of the aqueduct. They were erected to keep the aqueduct at atmospheric pressure.

stone ventilator
stone ventilator

It was a little cloudy on this day, but the sun would be coming out soon. We were grateful for the canopy of the trees, which made for a comfortable hike.

Old Croton Aqueduct
Old Croton Aqueduct

We came to a scenic rock cut and we stopped for a minute to take some photographs.

rock cut
rock cut

Then shortly thereafter we came to our first road crossing. This was at Quaker Bridge Road, which we would cross twice.

Quaker Bridge Road
Quaker Bridge Road

Prior to our first road crossing there were numerous dog walkers on the trail. One group of men had 6 or 7 unleashed dogs. Near the road crossings there were people to be seen since they could park and just walk onto the aqueduct. As we went further away from the roads, the aqueduct became more secluded. After crossing Quaker Bridge Road we came to the second stone ventilator shaft of the day. At this point we were approximately one mile into our hike.

stone ventilator shaft
stone ventilator shaft

Then we crossed the other end of Quaker Bridge Road.

Quaker Bridge Road
Quaker Bridge Road

After crossing the road we came to Croton Gorge Unique Area, which I had never heard of before. I filed it away for future reference.

Croton Gorge Unique Area
Croton Gorge Unique Area

There was a bench alongside the trail and we took a short breather.

resting spot
resting spot

After a brief rest on the bench that was placed there for our benefit, we continued on and came upon another stone ventilator shaft.

stone ventilator shaft
stone ventilator shaft

Another road crossing on Hillcrest Avenue…….

road crossing
road crossing

and we trekked on into Crotonville.

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail

We passed some more strategically placed benches, but did not stop this time.

benches
benches

We came out on Indian Brook Service Road by the Ossining Water Treatment Plant. We crossed the road and picked up the trail once again.

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail

The trail now hugged a fence that bordered the GE Management Development Institute.

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail

We came out on Old Albany Post Road by the American Legion and walked underneath Route 9A. We proceeded up to Ogden Avenue and turned left where we picked up the trail again. I knew that we would be crossing Highland Avenue (Route 9) soon, and not being familiar with the OCA Trail in this area, we somehow lost the trail. Since I knew we would be crossing the road, I did not want to miss the trailhead, so I inadvertently decided to cross too soon. If not for this error on my part we wouldn’t have seen this Black Vulture on the side of the road trying to make dinner out of a dead squirrel that lay in the road while not being roadkill itself.

Black Vulture
Black Vulture

Not liking road walks too much, I saw what looked like a trail that paralleled Route 9 and decided to take that route. I knew it would lead us to the aqueduct and I was right. Unfortunately there was a locked gate between us and the aqueduct. I was willing to climb the gate, but my hiking partners declined.

locked gate
locked gate

So we retraced our steps until we could walk around the fence and back onto Highland Avenue. Proceeding south, we came to the trailhead we were looking for.

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail - Ossining
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – Ossining

Now we were back in business! After a short walk, we came to Kane Mansion, which was built in 1843.

Kane Mansion
Kane Mansion

As we continued on our hike, we passed several more road crossings and came to a weir. Six weirs were constructed along the OCA to allow water to be drained from the aqueduct if the level rose above a certain height, weirs with hand-controlled gates and waste outlets were constructed. These also provided ventilation and access, making it possible not only to divert water and control its depth, but to stop it completely at the site of the weir.

Weir
Weir
Weir
Weir

After several more road crossings we arrived at the Ossining Weir.

Ossining Weir
Ossining Weir

The New Ossining Weir is twenty feet long, ten feet wide, and thirty feet high, including the portion of the weir that is built underground for the waste-water conduit.

Ossining Weir
Ossining Weir

At this time we walked across the Double Arch Bridge which spans the Sing Sing Kill and Broadway in Ossining.

Double Arch Bridge
Double Arch Bridge

After crossing the bridge, we veered off to the left towards Broadway and the Joseph G. Caputo Community Center, which is where we had parked one of the vehicles earlier. The aqueduct portion of the hike was over for today. We rested briefly in the parking lot and then began the Sing Sing Kill Greenway portion of the hike. I had been here on several occasions and figured it would be a good place to end this section of our OCA hike since it shares a parking lot with the community center. It is only a 1/2 mile to the end and back, so we trekked on.

Sing Sing Kill Greenway
Sing Sing Kill Greenway

From here we caught a nice view of the Double Arch Bridge from underneath. Although the lower bridge (Broadway) had debris netting draped on it, you can see how it got its name.

Double Arch Bridge
Double Arch Bridge

We strolled along the walkway at a leisurely pace and had the place to ourselves.

Sing Sing Kill Greenway
Sing Sing Kill Greenway

Kill Brook, which flows into the Hudson River was a bit dry, but the gorge is still a nice place to go for a walk.

Sing Sing Kill Greenway
Sing Sing Kill Greenway

We walked to the end of the walkway where the stairs lead up to Central Ave.

Sing Sing Kill Greenway
Sing Sing Kill Greenway

From there we retraced our steps back to the parking lot where our chariot awaited us. We had to drive back to Croton Gorge Park to pick up the other vehicle. That was it for today, by this time we were tired and hungry and I had some pork in the slow cooker that was calling my name. As far as hikes go, this wasn’t the most scenic one I have done, but it had meaning. Growing up in North Tarrytown, “the aqueduct” as we all called it, ran through the center of town. It was right behind the cafeteria of Sleepy Hollow HS and we spent many days wandering all over it. I have walked some areas of it in town and some sections south, but never really explored beyond. With the first section under my belt, I look forward to next week, when my hike takes me through Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown. Stay tuned, until next time folks, keep on trekking.

keep on trekking
keep on trekking

Walpack Township – Abandoned in New Jersey

September 10, 2016 – Walpack Township – Walpack Center, NJ

Walpack , New Jersey  is located in the scenic western section of Sussex County along the Delaware River. The township includes a section of the Old Mine Road, which is reputed to have been constructed by the early Dutch miners in the mid-1600s as a means of transporting copper ore from the Pahaquarry area to Kingston (formerly Esopus), NY. At one time it was considered the longest commercial road of note in the colonies. The area was sparsely settled before 1736. The 24 square mile township is peaceful and exceedingly quiet, almost to the point of being spooky.

Walpack , New Jersey
Walpack , New Jersey

In the 1960s, in order to control damaging flooding and provide clean water to supply New York City and Philadelphia, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed building a dam. When completed, the Tocks Island Dam would have created a 37 mile long lake between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with depths of up to 140 feet. This meant that all the homes in the area would be underwater. This lake and the land surrounding were to be organized as the Tocks Island National Recreation Area. Although the dam was never built, 72,000 acres of land were acquired by condemnation and eminent domain. The Corps and the National Park Service would end up spending $100 million to buy homes, stores and churches on either side of the river. About 8,000 people were evicted from their homes. The dam was never built and the land was subsequently transferred to the oversight of the National Park Service.

 

signs seen on many of the abandoned buildings
signs seen on many of the abandoned buildings

There are numerous abandoned homes and barns throughout the area that have been left to rot. Upon entering Walpack, I came upon this home alongside National Park Service Route 615 (Walpack Flatbrook Road).

along Route 615
along Route 615

Since these structures are overseen by the National Park Service, the grass was mowed on properties easily viewed from the road. Below are some more images for the same house.

along Route 615
along Route 615
along Route 615
along Route 615

A short drive away is Main Street, also known as Walpack Center. Although these homes are unoccupied, there seems to be some restoration being done on some of the structures. I parked across the street from the church and captured some images of the buildings which date as far back as 1850.

Walpack Methodist Church – This well built church was erected in 1872 at its present site at a cost of seven thousand dollars. Today the church is owned by the National Park Service. The Walpack Historical Society uses this facility for its general meetings.

Walpack Methodist Church
Walpack Methodist Church

Across the street from the church is a garage with an old gas pump. To the right there is an old fire or air raid siren.

garage
garage

Back behind the garage is the one room schoolhouse.

one room schoolhouse
one room schoolhouse

Below are some more buildings that line Main Street in Walpack Center. Click on the ensuing images to enlarge.

I continued down Main Street and turned right onto Mountain Road. I stopped momentarily at Walpack Cemetery.

Walpack Cemetery
Walpack Cemetery

Just after leaving the cemetery I saw a Pheasant in the road so I stopped and was able to capture an image before he dashed into the woods.

Pheasant
Pheasant

Continuing down Mountain Road, I stopped at Buttermilk Falls, which is the tallest falls in the state of New Jersey. I had visited this waterfall several times before and it was quite a sight to see, but today it was nothing more than a trickle.

Buttermilk Falls
Buttermilk Falls

Just down the road from Buttermilk Falls was another abandoned and dilapidated house.

ruined house on Mountain Road
ruined house on Mountain Road

Away from Main Street the houses were in really bad shape. No restoration job here. Click on the ensuing images to enlarge.

I continued down the road and a short distance away was an old barn. When I pulled up there were three older women there checking out the barn. One woman told me that the barn and the house up the road (pictured above) belonged to her sister until she was forced to move.

barn on Mountain Road
barn on Mountain Road

The barn was huge and looked to have been squatted in at one time like most of the buildings I visited.

barn on Mountain Road
barn on Mountain Road

It also had a storm cellar, but I did not venture down the stairs to check it out.

storm cellar
storm cellar

Here’s a view of the rear of the barn.

rear of the barn
rear of the barn

At this point I turned around and headed back towards Walpack Center. I stopped and took a few more shots before I headed out. I turned left at the end of Main Street onto Walpack Flatbrook Road (National Park Service Route 615) and saw some more abandoned houses just off the road. I pulled in the driveway to check them out.

structure alongside Walpack Flatbrook Road
structure alongside Walpack Flatbrook Road

Right by the barn was an overgrown basketball court.

overgrown basketball court
overgrown basketball court

It looked like all these buildings shared a common driveway. A little further in was this more modern looking home.

modern looking home
modern looking home

I turned around and walked back past where I was parked and this red barn seemed to be in decent shape.

red barn
red barn
red barn
red barn

Across from the red barn was an old farmhouse.

old farmhouse
old farmhouse

After checking out these structures, I was off to Old Mine Road. I had read that there was some abandoned structures along that old gravel road.

Once off the pavement and driving the gravel road, I came to what seemed like a farm. The property had numerous structures some in worse shape than others.

The main house
The main house

There were several mailboxes out front, but this newspaper box caught my eye.

newspaper box
newspaper box

Near the front of the property sat this structure.

outbuilding
outbuilding

Below are a couple of shots of the interior.

outbuilding
outbuilding
outbuilding
outbuilding

Behind the main house was a shed like structure.

shed
shed

Towards the back of the property there was a large L shaped barn. It was in pretty bad shape as part of it had collapsed.

L shaped barn
L shaped barn
L shaped barn
L shaped barn
L shaped barn
L shaped barn

This was a huge building and the interior was cavernous.

L shaped barn
L shaped barn

There were signs posted on all the buildings due to the poor condition of the structures.

sign
sign

To the left of the main house stood another small outbuilding.

small outbuilding
small outbuilding

I drove down Old Mine Road and saw another dilapidated house.

dilapidated house
dilapidated house

I continued driving down Old Mine Road with the Delaware River visible through the trees on my right. It was a tight squeeze anytime a vehicle came from the opposite direction. Thankfully that only happened a few times. After about 1.5 miles I arrived at the Van Campen Inn. Despite its name, the Van Campen Inn was never really used as an inn, at least not as we know them today. This “inn” was actually a “Yaugh house,” a rural house in a remote area that was required by early colonial law to provide shelter and food to travelers.

Van Campen Inn
Van Campen Inn

It was an interesting day visiting a town that time forgot. I hope that you enjoyed my journey into the abandoned town of Walpack, NJ. Until next time folks……….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel

September 5, 2016 – Liberty, NY

Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel was a resort in the Catskill Mountains in the Town of Liberty, New York. One of the largest Borscht Belt resorts, it was a kosher establishment that catered primarily to Jewish clients from New York City. After decades of activity and notable guests, it closed its doors in 1986.

In 1952, Grossinger’s earned a place in the history of skiing as the first resort in the world to use artificial snow. In 1972, the hotel had grown to 35 buildings on 1,200 acres that served 150,000 guests a year. It had its own airstrip and post office. During his fighting days Rocky Marciano would train at the resort. Elizabeth Taylor got married there and Jackie Robinson vacationed there. Unfortunately in the late 1970s and 1980s, resorts like Grossinger’s could no longer attract younger guests. In 1986, the Grossinger descendants sold the property. Grossinger’s main hotel and main resort areas closed in 1986, but the golf course is still open as of 2016.

Today, what is left of it sits in ruin and decay. Any semblance to yesteryear was stripped away long ago. It is a place of curiosity and a haven for urban explorers. There’s not much left to see as the place has been pillaged of anything of value or what may have been souvenirs. The tall grass and weeds have enveloped the roads and walkways that once paved the way around the property. The buildings that remain standing have been left to rot and and most are not safe to wander through. Nevertheless below are some images that were captured in September of 2016.

I added an image from Google Maps and numbered the areas that were photographed.

aerial view
aerial view

The guard booth is the first thing you see coming up the driveway with the Jennie G. wing just beyond it.

guard booth
guard booth
  1. First up is the Lyman Building. I believe it was named after Abe Lyman, a popular bandleader from the 1920s to the 1940s. It is top center on the map above.
    Lyman Building
    Lyman Building
    Lyman Building
    Lyman Building
    Lyman Building
    Lyman Building
    Lyman Building
    Lyman Building

    2. I believe that this is the main house.

    main house
    main house

    These shots were taken from the rear of what I assume is the main house.

    main house
    main house
    main house
    main house
    main house
    main house

    3. The power plant.

    power plant
    power plant

    Click on the ensuing images to enlarge.

4. The Paul G. wing.

Paul G. wing
Paul G. wing

Click on the ensuing images to enlarge.

5. The conference center.

conference center
conference center

6. The Jennie G. wing.

Jennie G. wing
Jennie G. wing 

Click on the ensuing images to enlarge.

More images from the Jennie G. wing captured from the front.

Jennie G. wing - lobby entrance
Jennie G. wing – lobby entrance

Click on the ensuing images to enlarge.

7. The Natatorium – which is the indoor pool area.

indoor pool
indoor pool

Click on the ensuing images to enlarge.

8. The Joy cottage.

The Joy cottage
The Joy cottage

Click on the ensuing images to enlarge.

So there you have it, what once was the crown jewel of the Catskills is now nothing but a mass of rot and decay. The bones have been picked clean and the rest has been reclaimed by nature. I hope that you enjoyed this post. Don’t forget to follow my blog so you don’t miss any future posts. Until next time folks……..

Schunemunk Mountain from Gonzaga Park

September 3, 2016 – Highland Mills, NY

Difficulty: moderate

Length: approximately 4.7 miles

Route type: out and back

Schunemunk Mountain is the highest mountain in Orange County and has over 2700 acres of rolling meadows and a spectacular mountain top. Hikers encounter elevations up to 1664 feet and thrilling 360 degree views of adjacent valleys, portions of the distant Hudson River and surrounding forest and farm lands. The eight marked trails include the Long Path, Jessup, Western Ridge, Trestle, Sweet Clover, Otterkill, Dark Hollow and Barton Swamp Trails totaling over 20 miles which traverse the mountain and glades.

Gonzaga Park is a 216 acre parcel of varying topography, including steep slopes and rock formations, as well as open areas and interesting buildings. This site contains a large athletic field, used primarily for Gaelic Football and other field sports, as well as picnicking and other passive uses. The property also provides access to the Long Path, a hiking trail operated and maintained by the New York/New Jersey Trail Conference. The parcel contains parts of the Towns of Blooming Grove, Monroe and Woodbury.

This hike was my introduction to Schunemunk Mountain. I have been wanting to check this place out for quite some time, but with so many great hikes on my “to do” list, it got pushed to the back burner. A few weeks ago I took out my West Hudson Trails Map and decided to  put together a hike at Schunemunk. The Megaliths is the most popular hike on the mountain, but I wanted to try a less traveled area. I saw Gonzaga Park on the map and Googled it. I couldn’t find much information on the park except that it had some interesting stone structures. It once had a Monastery that looked like a castle on the grounds that had been torn down. Remaining were several stone buildings that included a very cool looking small chapel. I knew then that I would begin my hike from there. I prefer circuit or loop hikes over an out and back hike because I prefer not to tread the same ground on the way back. Some out and back hikes give you a different look on the way back, this was one of them.

We arrived at Gonzaga Park about 9:30am on Saturday morning and the lot was empty which was a good sign.

Gonzaga Park
Gonzaga Park

A small stone gazebo like structure appeared on the right as we entered the parking area…..

gazebo like structure
gazebo like structure

and a larger cylindrical structure was a little further in. From older images on the internet it seems that at one time this building was connected to the old Monastery.

old Monastery
old Monastery

After checking out these two structures which were in close proximity to where we parked, we headed out to find the chapel. I knew the approximate location of where it stood in the park after locating it on Google Maps. On the way to the chapel we encountered another stone building that had seen better days.

stone building
stone building

I peeked my head in to grab an image of the interior, but did not venture inside.

interior of stone building
interior of stone building

Not too far from that building was a gravel road that led us up to the chapel.

road to the chapel
road to the chapel

This was one cool looking chapel. I have encountered many ruined structures on my hikes, but this was right at the top of the list. I’m glad that we found our way to it.

chapel
chapel
chapel
chapel
chapel
chapel
chapel
chapel
chapel
chapel

After taking numerous shots of this fantastic looking chapel in the woods, we were ready to begin our hike. Walking down the gravel road away from the chapel, I was able to spot some faded blazes on a tree. For this hike we would be following the yellow blazes of the Jessup Trail. The Jessup Trail (8.6 miles, yellow) is the main north-south trail on the mountain and traverses its full length. The Highlands Trail (teal diamond) is co-aligned with the Jessup Trail for its entire length. The Long Path is co-aligned with the Jessup Trail from Gonzaga Park for the entirety of the hike we were doing on this day. We followed the yellow Jessup Trail blazes, as the Long Path and Highlands Trail are marked with their trail logos only at occasional intervals and at junctions.

The Jessup Trail
The Jessup Trail

The trail was mostly a woods road that occasionally turned into a footpath, but reverted back to a woods road. It was somewhat rocky, but not too bad. The most strenuous part of the hike was at the beginning where we gained over 300 feet of elevation in about 3/4 of a mile. After that it was mostly undulating terrain with long stretches of level trail.

The Jessup Trail
The Jessup Trail

It turned out to be a great day for a hike. Mostly cloudy, but no rain made it a much easier trek up to the top. After about a 1/2 mile into our hike we came to 3 scenic view points in succession. A nice reward early on.

first scenic view
first scenic view

After taking in some views we continued on the yellow blazed Jessup Trail and came upon an old park bench on the mountain. I wish it fit in my backpack because it was more comfortable than sitting on rocks.

old park bench
old park bench

We came to a clearing with limited views and I captured an image. Upon further inspection, it seems like there are skulls in the clouds.

skulls in the sky
skulls in the sky

We came to a steep descent into a ravine which was helped by step like stones. The image below was taken after we climbed down as I looked back.

a look back at steep descent
a look back at steep descent

Then we climbed out of the ravine.

the climb out of the ravine
the climb out of the ravine

Once out of the ravine, we walked briefly through the woods…..

The Jessup Trail
The Jessup Trail

and came out to a clearing that afforded some really good views.

scenic view
scenic view

There were several more viewpoints that faced north with a nice view of the Shawangunks with the Catskills just beyond.

Shawangunks with the Catskills just beyond
Shawangunks with the Catskills just beyond

We continued along the trail searching for a southern facing view.

The Jessup Trail
The Jessup Trail

When we came to the southern view we were looking for, this became our turnaround point. Looking south towards Harriman-Bear Mountain State Parks.

southern view
southern view

At this point we had hiked about 2.5 miles and decided that this would be a good place to turn around. Like I said earlier, the hike back had a different look. It felt like we were treading new ground instead of retracing our steps.

The Jessup Trail
The Jessup Trail
The Jessup Trail
The Jessup Trail

Seeing the trail from a different perspective made it more enjoyable. We paused at all the viewpoints momentarily to gaze at the gorgeous views one last time as we continued our way back down the mountain.

The Jessup Trail
The Jessup Trail
The Jessup Trail
The Jessup Trail

The hike back was relatively easy with only a few ups and downs. It was a gentle descent down for most of the way with many photo ops.

The Jessup Trail
The Jessup Trail

One last look south towards Harriman-Bear Mountain State Parks.

Harriman-Bear Mountain State Parks
Harriman-Bear Mountain State Parks

When we neared the end/beginning of The Jessup Trail (Gonzaga Park), we then began following the aqua blazed Long Path which veered left. I knew there was a spring house and a small cemetery along the trail and I wanted to check it out. My hiking partners weren’t too enthused, but I coaxed them along. It was a short walk until I could see the spring house through the trees. Just before the spring house was a rock face with a warning?

graffitti rock
graffiti rock

We got to the spring house and captured some images of the little stone structure.

spring house
spring house
spring house
spring house
spring house
spring house

I wanted to see the cemetery, but my hiking partners were done and wanted to call it a day. I walked alone over a clearing a short distance away and spotted what I assume was a cemetery.

cemetery
cemetery

At this point we were all a little tired and retraced our steps back to The Jessup Trail where we turned left and walked back to the parking lot, where our hike began. I truly enjoyed this hike as it had enough to keep me interested. The stone structures and especially the chapel were extremely compelling, the trail was scenic as were the views. The absolute best thing about this hike is that we didn’t encounter another living soul at any point on the trail. This hike gets a thumbs up from me. Until next time folks, keep on trekking………

keep on trekking
keep on trekking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inwood Hill Park

August 27, 2016 – Manhattan, NYC

Difficulty: easy

Length: approximately 4.7 miles

Route type: circuit

Inwood Hill Park is a city-owned and maintained public park in the Inwood neighborhood of Manhattan, NYC. It is operated by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Situated on a high schist ridge that rises 200 feet above the Hudson River from Dyckman Street to the northern tip of the island, Inwood Hill Park’s densely folded, glacially scoured topography contains the largest remaining forest land on Manhattan Island.

Inwood Hill Park
Inwood Hill Park

The park covers 196.4 acres and sits on the banks of the Hudson River on the west and the Spuyten Duyvil Creek to the north. A number of foot paths criss-cross the park. Some of these trails are former roads leading to what were once summer estates. Inwood Hill Park is more than just a tranquil forest with great views of the Hudson River. Inwood was the site of a Native American village (Shorakapkok) and was at one time believed to be the place where, in 1626, according to legend, Peter Minuit “purchased” Manhattan Island from the Indians in exchange for objects then valued at 60 guilders (24 dollars).

We arrived before 9:00 am on a Saturday morning and after driving around the block several times found a parking spot on 218th Street. We wanted to begin at the northern end of the park figuring that finding a spot would be easier and it was. The park entrance is at the corner of 218th Street and Indian Road right by the Columbia University football field. Indian Road is the only street in Manhattan that ends with “Road.”

218th Street and Indian Road
218th Street and Indian Road

Upon entering the park we decided to check out Muscota Marsh which is adjacent to Inwwod Hill Park. Muscota Marsh is a one acre public park on the shore of Spuyten Duyvil Creek, a section of the Harlem River.

Muscota Marsh
Muscota Marsh
Muscota Marsh
Muscota Marsh

As soon as I started walking down the boardwalk I encountered this little fellow that just stood and stared at me.

Squirrel
Squirrel

The blue and white 60-foot by 60-foot Columbia University “C”  has been painted and repainted on the gneiss rock facing the Harlem River in Spuyten Duyvil, Bronx, since 1952. Originally conceived by Robert Prendergast, a medical student of Columbia University and coxswain on the heavyweight rowing crew team, Prendergast approached the New York Central Railroad for permission (which was given) to have this sign painted on the 100-foot-high wall of Fordham Gneiss, which was completed in the fall of 1952 by the rowers of the crew team, which continues to maintain it.

C-Rock
C-Rock

There was an Egret hanging out in the salt marsh and we snapped some shots.

Egret
Egret

Muscota Marsh is a quaint little park that offers a nice view of the Palisades and the Hudson River just beyond the Henry Hudson Bridge.

Muscota Marsh
Muscota Marsh

It was time to get hiking, so off we went. I had a map of the park that outlined two blazed trails. The blue trail travels the high ground for much of its entirety and the green blazed trail hugs the river. I always like to hike the more strenuous sections first, so we started following the blue blazes. On the map it shows the blue trail as Bolton Road. The blue trail is a paved road which is sparsely blazed, but I was in a wandering mood and didn’t mind exploring the park with no real direction.

blue blaze trail
blue blaze trail

Our first stop was The Shorakkopoch Rock  which marks the site of the tulip tree under which Peter Minuit, allegedly “purchased” Manhattan from a band of Native Americans in 1626 for beads and trinkets worth 60 guilders which was the equivalent of about $24.00 back then.

Shorakkopoch Rock
Shorakkopoch Rock
Shorakkopoch Rock
Shorakkopoch Rock

After our history lesson we looked around and no blue blazes. This would happen all throughout this hike. I happened to see green blazes, so I knew that the blue trail was on higher ground. So we proceeded up the hill.

blue trail
blue trail

Walking up the road I saw a footpath off to the right which led through the woods. It went west, which was the direction we wanted to go, so we took it.

footpath
footpath

I was glad we took this route because this was better than walking a paved road. We were hiking in the woods in Manhattan. How cool is that? We came to some stairs in the woods which we climbed.

stairs
stairs

Then we passed several blowdowns on this section of the trail. The image below shows a huge tree across the trail with a smaller tree just beyond.

blowdown
blowdown

After a short while the footpath ended at the paved road and we turned right and continued to follow it west.

paved road
paved road

In a moment we passed underneath the Henry Hudson Bridge and came to a clearing where the Hudson River and the Palisades were visible to our right.

Hudson River and the Palisades
Hudson River and the Palisades

As we walked along the paved road we came to a junction. Left went to a tunnel that crosses under the southbound lanes of the Henry Hudson Parkway. Straight was the green trail. We decided to go left which was probably the blue trail.

tunnel that crosses under the southbound lanes of the Henry Hudson Parkway
tunnel that crosses under the southbound lanes of the Henry Hudson Parkway

Below are some more images of the southbound tunnel crossing. Click on the ensuing images to enlarge.

After passing underneath the southbound lanes of the Henry Hudson Parkway, We paralleled the parkway as we headed uphill.

alongside the northbound Henry Hudson
alongside the northbound Henry Hudson

The trail veered away from the parkway as we headed uphill. We saw quite a few old light posts on our hike and none of them looked like they worked.

light post on trail
light post on trail

A very scenic hike this turned out to be. It was hard to believe that we were in Manhattan. The only reminder that we were in the city was the sound of cars when we were close to the parkway and the sound of helicopters up above.

scenic trail
scenic trail

As we continued through the woods, we came to the tunnel that crossed beneath the northbound lanes of the Henry Hudson Parkway.

tunnel that crossed beneath the northbound lanes of the Henry Hudson Parkway
tunnel that crosses beneath the northbound lanes of the Henry Hudson Parkway

Below are some more images of the northbound tunnel crossing. Click on the ensuing images to enlarge.

This hike turned out to be quite interesting. At almost every turn there seemed to be something that you don’t usually see while hiking in the woods.

fire hydrant
fire hydrant

We continued on the trail frequently consulting the map which was helpful at times. It outlined points of interest and also stairs which helped pinpoint where we were. The map didn’t help much when we came to the numerous forks in the trail which had no markings to point out the correct direction. Somehow we managed to always end up going the right way. It must have been my great navigational skills. The trail opened up once again to a paved road.

paved road
paved road

At one time these roads led to estates and there were numerous forks and triangles. They even had stone valley gutters to divert water away from the roads.

valley gutter
valley gutter

According to the map we were to climb the upcoming stairs to continue on the blue trail.

stairs on the blue trail
stairs on the blue trail

After climbing the stairs we continued on the paved road, which at this time had grown on me. I was starting to dig walking on this old road. At times it was a little spooky, but I dug that too. Hardly a soul was seen, but a jogger every now and then. We were hiking in Manhattan along some secluded roads that at one time led to some grand estates, but were now overgrown and deserted.

secluded road
secluded road

As we gained some elevation, the view started to open up. I could see the Palisades across the Hudson River through the trees. Then all of a sudden it was wide open and a fantastic view appeared.

Overlook Meadow
Overlook Meadow

According to the map this spot was called Overlook Meadow. It had nice views west and north of the Hudson Valley.

Overlook Meadow
Overlook Meadow

We stopped here for a little while and captured some images of a great view on such a beautiful day.

Overlook Meadow
Overlook Meadow

After taking in the view we continued on the blue trail and came upon another point of interest which was Whale Back Rock, an outcrop of Manhattan schist.

Whale Back Rock
Whale Back Rock

As we continued on the blue trail I was imagining what it must have been like so long ago when these roads were built. They had built curbs in places and the amount of paving materials that were used for the network of roads must have cost a hefty sum.

curbed road
curbed road

As we descended on the blue trail we came to one of the most unique spots in the park, the Indian Caves. The caves were created by the tumbling of rocks during a glacial retreat more than 30 thousand years ago forming overhangs of natural rock shelters. These cave shelters were once used as a seasonal camp by the Lenape people who lived in the region before the arrival of Henry Hudson in 1609.

Indian Caves
Indian Caves

We stopped and explored the shallow caves and hung out and relaxed for a while. I had read that homeless people use these caves as shelter so I approached them with caution.

Indian Cave
Indian Cave
Indian Cave
Indian Cave

There were several shallow caves that were more like rock shelters than actual caves. From what I read they used to interconnect via tunnels that were sealed up by the parks department long ago. Nevertheless they were one of the highlights of a hike that had many.

Indian Cave
Indian Cave

Even the trees had caves.

tree cave
tree cave

After leaving the caves we arrived back at The Shorakkopoch Rock. That was the conclusion of the blue trail. At the rock we turned left and began following the green blazes. This trail was better blazed and much easier to follow as it ran along the lower section of the park. This one also followed a paved road, which the map lists as Spuyten Duyvil Road. Heading west on the green trail, it was bordered by a rock face to the left and a steep drop off into the ravine on the right. The road/trail had stone borders on the edge to prevent vehicles/carriages from going over the side way back when…..

green trail
green trail

Spuyten Duyvil Creek and C-Rock was visible to our right through the trees as we walked up hill along the trail.

C-Rock
C-Rock

We continued underneath the Henry Hudson Bridge, where we came to the junction that we earlier had turned left to pass through the first tunnel beneath the parkway. This time we veered right and continued to follow the green blazes. Some parts of the green trail run together with the Hudson River Valley Greenway bike trail. Caution is needed during these sections. I almost walked into the path of a cyclist coming quickly behind me. He didn’t ring a bell or shout. I came real close to getting run down. There are green signs on posts indicating the aforementioned sections like the one in the image below. We came to a footbridge that stretched over the tracks and crossed over.

footbridge
footbridge

After crossing over the tracks we walked towards the Hudson River and turned right.

Hudson River
Hudson River

This section of the park has many playing fields. Most of the baseball fields are to the south, closer to Dyckman Street. We walked north along the river and took in the beauty of our surroundings while avoiding the crowds. This area was more heavily populated than any other section of the hike, but for NYC it felt almost desolate. We sat on a bench facing the river and had some sandwiches that we normally bring along on hikes. The breeze was really strong and it felt good! It was such a gorgeous day and we were content just basking in all its glory. I got up to capture some images and was greeted with the Circle Line that was hooking a left onto the Hudson from Spuyten Duyvil Creek/Harlem River.

Circle Line
Circle Line

I grew up across from the cliffs of the Palisades so I have always enjoyed gazing at them. The view from here was exceptional.

Palisades
Palisades

Looking north I could see all the way to the Tappan Zee Bridge.

view north
view north

Once we were well fed and well rested, we decided it was time to get going. I could have spent a lot more time at this spot, but we still had some hiking to do. We retraced our steps, crossing over the tracks and followed the green trail back the way we came. As we approached the end of our hike I saw a Heron in the distance hanging out in the salt marsh.

Heron
Heron

A short while later we heard some hawks making a racket and looked up to see three Red Tailed Hawks soaring high above us. We rested on a shady bench alongside Spuyten Duyvil Creek and watched the hawks. This hike exceeded my expectations. I figured it would be a walk through some thin woods and having to walk through hordes of people. I was wrong and I’m glad I was. Even on a beautiful August day this park offered a little solitude along with one of the more photo worthy hikes I have done. I hope that you enjoyed today’s  hike. Until next time, keep on trekking…..

keep on trekking
keep on trekking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arden Point and Glenclyffe

August 20, 2016 – Garrison, NY

Difficulty: easy

Length: approximately 4 miles

Route type: circuit

Arden Point is a peninsula on the Hudson River in the hamlet of Garrison, Town of Philipstown, Putnam County, NY. Approximately 17 acres lie west of the Metro North railroad with another 21 acres east of the tracks. Access is provided along Lower Station Road and from the Metro North station parking lot at Garrison.  A wooded trail that snakes along the eastern banks of the Hudson River eventually leads to a rocky bluff known as Arden Point with river views north and south, including a full view of West Point on the opposite shore.

Glenclyffe is a 93-acre parcel of land on the Hudson River in the Highlands, which is preserved through the efforts of the Open Space Institute and its partners. Benedict Arnold rode through it trying to escape to the British. New York Governor Hamilton Fish, later to become Secretary of State under President Ulysses Grant, lived on it. Grant and President Abraham Lincoln both visited it.

On a hot and humid August day I was looking to do a hike that had some shady trails, views and level terrain. This hike fit the bill quite nicely. As far as I’m concerned any hike that includes walking along the shore of the Hudson River is always pleasurable. I decided to do the hike described in the NY/NJ Trail Conference’s website. It was a good call because this hike had everything that I was seeking and more.

We parked at the Garrison Metro North Station which offers free parking on weekends. The trailhead is just to the left of the entrance to the lot and we were off.

Arden Point trailhead
Arden Point trailhead

We headed south on a blue blazed shady woods road that was level.

blue blazed shady woods road
blue blazed shady woods road

After a few minutes we passed an old railing on the right side of the trail.

old railing
old railing

Just past the railing were some ruins of several buildings. I could not find out any information online as to what these buildings were. If anyone has any info on their history please comment below. Below are some shots that I took.

Arden Point ruins
Arden Point ruins
Arden Point ruins
Arden Point ruins
Arden Point ruins
Arden Point ruins
Arden Point ruins
Arden Point ruins

Just past the ruins we crossed a footbridge and continued on the relatively straight and level trail.

footbridge
footbridge

After about a half mile from the start of the hike we came upon a steel truss bridge. We crossed the bridge over the railroad tracks towards the Hudson River.

steel truss bridge
steel truss bridge

When we crossed over the bridge there were two female hikers that were somewhat lost so I let them take a look at my East Hudson Trails Map and then we continued on. At the end of the bridge we kept following the blue blazed trail which went to the right.

blue blazed trail
blue blazed trail

The trail was now a footpath and there were some blow downs along the way. A minor inconvenience and not hard to get around.

blowdown on blue blazed trail
blowdown on blue blazed trail
blowdown on blue blazed trail
blowdown on blue blazed trail

The blue trail ended at a junction with the red trail and we now started following the red markers staying to the right. We walked through the break in a stone wall……

stone wall
stone wall

and then moments later we arrived at Arden Point North with a view of West Point to the left and Bull Hill towards the center.

Arden Point North
Arden Point North

It was nice and breezy by the river and we hung out enjoying the view and the cool summer river breeze. As we relaxed there for a while a few dog walkers and a family of hikers appeared on the scene. I just continued to gaze at the boats and jet skis as they raced along the river. Below are some more images captured at this lookout.  Click on the ensuing images to enlarge.

When we were ready to continue we retraced our steps back to the red trail, this time heading south. At times we lost the red markers and bushwacked through the woods. I wasn’t concerned, I knew that keeping the river at my right shoulder would lead us south which was our intended route. We found the red blazes, but several times throughout this section of the hike we bushwacked until we once again met up with the red trail. We arrived at Arden Point South and took in the southern views towards the Bear Mountain Bridge.  Click on the ensuing images to enlarge.

Once done enjoying the view and the cool river breeze, we headed back onto the red trail which proceeded to lead us uphill and back to the steel truss bridge over the tracks. Once we crossed back over the bridge we turned right and briefly followed the white blazed trail until we came to the Open Space Institute (OSI) red blazed trail. This was the start of the Glenclyffe Loop, which circles the Glenclyffe property of OSI.  Shortly we came to a gazebo with obstructed views of the river. The trail passes just to the left of it.

gazebo
gazebo

As we hiked through the woods, we came to a red brick building on the left that was built in the 1860s. It was once the home of Hamilton Fish who was the governor of NY.

home of Hamilton Fish
home of Hamilton Fish

We captured some images of the former governor’s home.

home of Hamilton Fish
home of Hamilton Fish
home of Hamilton Fish
home of Hamilton Fish

As we continued following the red blazes of the Glenclyffe Loop we came to a sign that pointed towards the Historic Overlook.

sign
sign

We made our way to the overlook where there was a viewing platform that overlooked the site of Beverly Dock, which was used in 1780 by Benedict Arnold to escape when his treason was discovered. I would take some caution on this platform because the railings were loose and it sits over a steep drop off .

viewing platform
viewing platform

After leaving the Historic Overlook we continued on the red trail. This section of the trail was where Benedict Arnold rode through to escape.

Benedict Arnold's escape route
Benedict Arnold’s escape route

We passed by a couple of ponds and dams along the way and then came out onto an open field alongside Route 9D.

open field
open field

We walked along the treeline which was marked with red blazes. Across 9D Castle Rock was visible up on the hill.

Castle Rock
Castle Rock

At the sign for the Garrison Institute we turned left and walked up to a trail map that signified the beginning of the white blazed Marcia’s Mile trail.

trail map
trail map

We followed the white blazes through the woods and a field and we passed the ruins of a small structure.

ruins
ruins

As we hiked through the woods we saw some wooden crosses staked into the ground that seemed like a shrine. I have no idea what they represented, but it felt a little creepy seeing them in the woods. It may have something to do with Marcia, seeing as the trail is named after her.

wooden crosses
wooden crosses
wooden crosses
wooden crosses

At the end of Marcia’s Mile we came to the steel truss bridge that we had crossed twice earlier and we turned right where we retraced our steps back to the Garrison Metro North lot.

blue trail heading north
blue trail heading north

I hope you enjoyed today’s hike, and don’t forget to follow my blog to stay informed about my latest journeys. Until next time, keep on trekking…….

keep on trekking
keep on trekking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lenoir Preserve – Old Croton Aqueduct

August 13, 2016 – Yonkers, NY

Difficulty: easy

Length: approximately 3.5 miles

Route type: lollipop loop

Lenoir Preserve is a 40-acre nature preserve comprising woodlands and field habitats. It is located in Yonkers, NY. It is adjacent to the Old Croton Aqueduct on slopes overlooking the Hudson River. The property was formerly home to two Hudson River estates, only one of which stands today. I have been here several times and was not really impressed. They have blazed trails, but they are not well kept and overgrown in places. However it is in close proximity to another estate which has some really interesting architecture, the Old Croton Aqueduct (OCA), and Untermyer Park.

Lenoir Preserve
Lenoir Preserve

Plaque on stone wall at entrance.

Plaque
Plaque

On the day of this hike it was extremely hot with high humidity. An extreme heat warning was in effect with “real feel” temp at 107. With that being said, I chose a hike that wasn’t strenuous, offered some shade and was photo worthy. I decided on Lenoir Preserve as a starting point. I know my way around so I didn’t bother with any maps, although they are available. From the parking lot we walked south past the Nature Center on a blacktop path.

blacktop path
blacktop path

When we came to a fork in the paved path, we stayed to the right.

IMG_6993_HDR_marked
fork in the paved path

Almost immediately we came to the Butterfly Garden. I wasn’t too interested in butterflies so I took a shot of it and kept it moving.

Butterfly Garden
Butterfly Garden

We walked past the Butterfly Garden, staying to the right and in a minute we saw the rear of Lenoir Mansion on our left.

Lenoir Mansion
Lenoir Mansion

We continued south on the paved path which led towards the edge of the property.

south on the paved path
south on the paved path

At the edge of the Lenoir Preserve property was a wall with an arch that led to another estate.

wall with an arch
wall with an arch

This is Alder Manor also known as the W. B. Thompson Mansion. It was built around 1912 by William Boyce Thompson, a mining tycoon and financier, as his weekend home. At the turn of the century, large riverside estates characterized much of Yonkers; today the Thompson Mansion is one of the few to have survived the city’s 20th century urbanization. The Thompson family lived there until the mid 20th century; afterwards it was willed to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and became Mary Elizabeth Seton High School, the first Catholic school in Yonkers.

Alder Manor - March 16, 2016
Alder Manor – March 16, 2016

After ten years as a high school, it was upgraded to a junior college. A few years after merging with Iona College, the campus was closed. While the other buildings on the property were repurposed, the mansion fell into neglect and was looted until Tara Circle, an Irish American cultural organization, bought it from the city. To raise money for its restoration, Tara Circle holds occasional events there and rents it out for weddings and filming for movies such as Mona Lisa Smile and A Beautiful Mind. The manor is private property.

The architecture on this property is very ornate and although much of it is in ruins, it has a certain appeal. It is rich in Hudson Valley history.

other side of wall with arch entry
other side of wall with arch entry

The wall extends from west to east along the edge of the property.

wall on edge of the property
wall on edge of the property

There was a lot to photograph on the grounds. I have read that it is sometimes referred to as a mini Untermyer Park. There was a gazebo like structure with a shallow tiled pool.

gazebo like structure
gazebo like structure

The north side of the manor.

north side of the manor
north side of the manor
north side of the manor
north side of the manor

The walled gate that leads to the Lenoir Preserve property.

walled gate
walled gate

At the east end of the property towards Broadway (Route 9) is a columned area.

columned area
columned area

To the right of the columned area is an archway which leads to the front of the house.

archway
archway

Facing west, a tiled mosaic pool.

tiled mosaic pool
tiled mosaic pool

This place was quite interesting and had a lot of unique features. Click on the ensuing images to enlarge.

The north wall of the manor.

north wall
north wall

A built in bench on the west side of the grounds.

built in bench
built in bench

Stairs leading east.

Stairs leading east
Stairs leading east

Back on the Lenoir property the high wall of Alder Manor as it runs from west to east.

wall of Alder Manor
wall of Alder Manor
wall of Alder Manor
wall of Alder Manor

The other side of the gate that leads to the grounds of Alder Manor previously shown.

gate that leads to the grounds of Alder Manor
gate that leads to the grounds of Alder Manor

After heading east along the wall, we turned left towards Lenoir Mansion.

Lenoir Mansion
Lenoir Mansion

We continued past the mansion until we caught up with the trail which led to this stone gazebo.

stone gazebo
stone gazebo

We passed the Butterfly Garden again and just to the right there was a trail that led to a castle like arch. This part of the trail was a bit overgrown, but it was short lived once we passed through the arch.

castle like arch
castle like arch

After passing through the arch, the trail led downhill then split. We continued towards the right and down the hill which would lead us to the Old Croton Aqueduct (OCA). Once we passed through the gate we turned left and headed south along the aqueduct.

gate
gate
Old Croton Aqueduct
Old Croton Aqueduct

The OCA was a level straight walk which was nicely shaded on this sweltering August day. Once we got to this rock cut…….

rock cut
rock cut

There was a stone building with bars on the windows on the left that looked very much like a jail of some sort.

stone building
stone building
stone building
stone building
IMG_7087_HDR_marked
stone building
IMG_7149_HDR_marked
stone building
stone building
stone building

After capturing some images of this interesting looking structure, we continued south on the aqueduct passing a stone ventilator.

stone ventilator
stone ventilator

We crossed the road and continued on the OCA until we came to the rear gate of Untermyer Park on the left.

rear gate of Untermyer Park
rear gate of Untermyer Park

Beyond the gate were ruins which I believe used to be the gatehouse.

gatehouse ruins
gatehouse ruins

Click on the ensuing images to enlarge.

Although this was an easy hike the heat was brutal so we took a seat in the shade and relaxed for a while. Then I headed to the gate house to take some more shots.

gate house
gate house

As I got closer to the gate house I noticed a guy sleeping towards the back. He looked like he was in a deep sleep so I stayed in the front and took some shots from there.

gate house
gate house
gate house
gate house

We decided not to walk up the somewhat steep hill into Untermyer Park because it was too hot and we had been there numerous times. So we headed back to the aqueduct that was on the other side of the gate.

gate
gate

We headed north on the aqueduct back towards the Lenoir Preserve. We proceeded up the steps and through the gate that separated the OCA from the Lenoir Preserve.

steps
steps

Once through the gate we hiked up the hill and as the trail split, we stayed left and continued uphill until we got back to the Nature Center. From there we headed to the parking lot, jumped in the vehicle and blasted the AC. It was a hot one, but we still got our hike in and captured some nice images as well. I hope you enjoyed today’s hike, I know I did. Be sure to follow my blog and stay informed about my journeys. Until next time folks, keep on trekking…….

keep on trekking
keep on trekking