Westchester is a hiker’s haven.
It seems like now more than ever everyone is getting outdoors. If you’re looking for a new route, Westchester County has over 600 miles of trails with awe-inspiring views, family friendly features and historical highlights. With so many choices, here are a few hidden gems that are off the beaten trail:
Cranberry Lake Preserve
1609 Old Orchard Street, North White Plains, NY 10604
A 190-acre nature preserve with three miles of trails, Cranberry Lake Preserve’s diverse landscape includes a lily-pad-laden lake, cliffs and a man-made cave. The History Trail has a 19th century farmhouse and an early 20th century mining operation that supplied the stone to build the Kensico Dam. The preserve is also a safe haven for migratory birds, turtles, and dragonflies.
712 Kitchawan Rd, Ossining, NY 10562
A leisurely 2.4 mile walk, the Kitchawan Preserve has 208 acres and includes open fields and woodlands that attract birds and butterflies in late spring. Hikers will find remnants of old stone walls that were built to separate crop fields from private properties a century ago. As a bonus, you can take a 6.5 mile trail from the Kitchawan Preserve that will bring you to the nearby Teatown Lake Reservation.
Granite Knolls Park
Stony Street, Mohegan Lake, NY 10547
Granite Knolls Park’s 3.5-mile circuit loop is an easy stroll and is dog-friendly. The trail boasts a large glacier rock the size of a house known as the Giant Boulder. The area is the site for small-scale quarry operations, so there are plenty of interesting rock formations scattered throughout the trail.
Mianus River Gorge Preserve
167 Mianus River Rd., Bedford, NY
The 800-acre preserve features 5 miles of trails that are well-marked that parallel the Mianus River Gorge, and will take you through open woods with 350-year-old hemlocks that stand 100 feet tall. There’s an abundance of old stone walls, an abandoned 19th century quarry, and the impressive, rushing Havemeyer Falls.
A few for more adventurous hikers…
Ward Pound Ridge Reservation
Reservation Rd, Pound Ridge, NY 10576
Once home to the legendary hermit “the Leatherman,” with 35 miles of trails and 4,315-acres, Ward Pound Ridge Reservation is the county’s largest park. There are numerous carriage road trails, hilly terrains and rustic woodlands dating back to an era when there were more than thirty farms within the park.
Westmoreland Sanctuary and Arthur W. Butler Memorial Sanctuary
260 Chestnut Ridge Rd, Mt Kisco, NY 10549
With eight miles on 640 acres, Westmoreland Sanctuary contains ponds, surging streams, cliffs, stone walls, and Cole’s Kettle, a natural pond and wetland area formed by glaciers. Bechtel Lake is a highlight of the walk, where turtles and aquatic birds can be observed in their natural surroundings. The trails can be used to connect over the highway to the nearby Arthur W. Butler Memorial Sanctuary, a 363-acre park that offers 3.5 miles of challenging, well-maintained trails and a Hawk Watch viewing strand.
Whether you find yourself walking down a winding woodsy path with finding a quiet place to sit and reflect, hiking offers the perfect opportunity to get outside and get a workout – while still allowing you to adhere to social distancing. So dust off your hiking boots, grab a few bottles of water and go where the trails lead you.