The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving. After the festivities, you might be looking for some opportunities to burn off a few calories. We would like to suggest that you considering taking a hike. Did you know that Van Cortlandt Park is 1,146 acres with approximately half of that being forested with over 20 miles of hiking trails? Van Cortlandt Park is the perfect place to hone your hiking skills while getting some exercise and taking in some beautiful scenery. Here are our favorite five trails to hike in Van Cortlandt Park.
1.) Putnam Trail– this trail is a perfect place to begin hiking in the Park. It is what remains of the NY Central Railroad’s Putnam Division. It is 1.5 miles within Van Cortlandt Park but continues north all the way to Putnam County. You can start the trail near the lake. Park at the VC Golf House or take the 1 train to the last stop and follow the Bike path to the Golf House.
2.) Old Croton Aqueduct– this is another straight shot trail that is easy to follow but is a little bit challenging at the moment to get onto. The trail follows the 41-mile-long aqueduct that brought water from the Croton Dam to NYC and is 1.1 miles within Van Cortlandt Park. The trail was recently renovated however the stairs at the entrance near the Golf Course are still closed. There is a worn path up a steep slope near the stairs that will get you up to the trail. Park at the VC Golf House or take the 1 train to the last stop and follow the Bike path to the Golf House- then follow the bike path north of the Golf House and you will see the closed stairs to the trail on your right.
3.) John Kieran Trail– this 1.25 mile loop trail is perfect for families and seniors. It begins and ends near the Golf House and journeys through the park’s lake area, freshwater wetlands and forests. Park at the VC Golf House or take the 1 train to the last stop and follow the Bike path to Golf House.
4.) John Muir Trail– the only east-west trail in the Park takes you from Riverdale to Woodlawn. Follow the pink blazes on this 1.5 mile trail. The trail transverses steep terrain at the park’s center. Park at the Riding Stables or take the Bx9 bus to Mosholu and Broadway to start on the west side. Park on the street near Van Cortlandt Park East and Oneida Ave. or take the Bx34 bus to the last stop to start on the Woodlawn Side.
5.) Northwest Valley Hike– this is our favorite hike! This hike takes you through the Northwest Woods and features steep terrain and beautiful scenery. It’s marked in red on the picture and is about 1.8 miles. There are lots of twists and turns but don’t worry if you veer off we promise you won’t get completely lost. Any hike in the Northwest Woods is a good one. Park at the Riding Stables or take the 9 bus to Mosholu and Broadway.
Here is a complete map of all the trails in the Park. Not ready to venture on your own, then join the Friends during our monthly hikes in the spring and fall. Happy Trails.