Monday, September 14, 2015

Hiking in Westchester County

Spitzenberg Mountain
Westchester County, just north of New York City, isn't known as a hiking destination. It's a suburb, without any large parks within its borders. Of course, if one can find hiking within NYC, one can find hiking in Westchester. For the casual exerciser, there are plenty of parks and greenways to get out and jog or walk the dog. Putting together a lengthy hike is a bit more of a logistical challenge.

Luckily, the Ramblers thrive on those sorts of challenges, and this week's hike was 14.5 miles with probably only a mile on roads. We started from the Peekskill train statin and walked to Depew Park, which connects to the Blue Mountain Reservation. The reservation is mostly bicycle trails, but hiking is allowed. At the south end of the reserve we climbed up Spitzenberg Mountain, which would more accurately be called a hill. The photo at left is of one of our hikers approaching the summit. At the top there is an old building and a nice view of the Hudson River.

ReservoirWe then followed the Peekskill Briarcliff Trailway to the New Croton Dam, which holds water for New York City and marks the beginning of both the Old and New Croton Aqueducts. The OCA* is no longer in use, but a trail following its path stretches all the way down into Van Cortlandt Park. We followed the trail as far as Ossining, where we caught a train back into the city.

The hike was overall very nice in a "pretty woods" sort of way. Elevation changes were moderate. The dam was the highlight in the middle of the hike, but the woods to the north felt surprisingly isolated at times, although not wild - old stone walls and the occasional backyard served as reminders this was the suburbs.

* Everyone calls it the OCA for short, but I have trouble with that. To me, the OCA will always be the Oregon Citizens Alliance, the hate group that sponsored anti-gay Measure 9 when I was in high school. On the other hand, the "Old Croton Aqueduct trail" is a mouthful.

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