The Pet Gazette’s focus has been on helping pet owners get the most out of the beautiful County we live in. The following “dog walks” are just a few public places to get out and explore and enjoy. We know owners have their special spots and hope they’ll share them with our readers by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll include this as a component of our planned website, launching soon!
It’s fall and now that it’s cooler, it couldn’t be a better time to take your four-legged family members along for walks along some of the region’s most peaceful, picturesque trails. You still want to remember to bring water along so nobody gets dehydrated. If you’re going to a beach area, bring sunblock for you and your pets and if you’re hiking in the woods, take insect repellent to protect against ticks. Bring poop bags. And bring that leash! Rules vary where beaches are concerned; where allowed, dogs can only walk on most beaches during off-season, from October to April. Listed are just some trails where you and your pets can feel welcome:
1) Rockefeller State Park Preserve/Tarrytown-Approximately 30 miles from the hustle and bustle of New York City, Rockefeller State Park Preserve is an idyllic spot for strolling, jogging, horseback riding, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. With 180 recorded species of birds and its IBA (Important Bird Area) designation by the National Audubon Society, the Preserve is a must visit area for birders.
The most notable feature of the Preserve is the system of carriage roads built by John D. Rockefeller Sr. and John D. Rockefeller Jr. Designed to complement the landscape, the carriage roads, many of which are handicapped accessible, allow visitors to experience and enjoy the natural wonders of the area. These scenic paths wind through wetlands, woodlands, meadows, and fields and past streams, rivers, and lakes. They traverse wood and stone bridges, including the first triple arch bridge in America. One road passes by the foundation of Rockwood Hall, once the 220 room home of William Rockefeller. Dogs must be on a leash not more than 10 feet long. Trail maps available at the Preserve office. Accessible from Taconic Parkway, NYS Route 9 and Metro-North (Tarrytown station).
2) Bronx River Parkway Reservation/Yonkers to Valhalla-The Bronx River Parkway Reservation, Westchester’soldest park, is an 807-acre paved linear park that was created as an adjunct to the Bronx River Parkway that opened in 1925. The Reservation touts a number of “firsts:” it was the first linear park in Westchester, as well as one of the first in the country, and, the Bronx River Parkway was the first parkway in the nation.
The adjacent pathway consists of three paved segments: a one-mile loop near Oak Street in Mount Vernon; a 3.6-mile section from Palmer Road in Bronxville north to Harney Road in Scarsdale and a 5-mile section extending from Green Acres Avenue in Hartsdale to Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla. On Sundays during spring and autumn, a portion of the Bronx River Parkway closes to vehicular traffic for the county’s popular Bike & Skate Sundays program. The Reservation also has the distinction of being the first official Westchester County Park. Open 8 am to dusk year-round. Dogs must be leashed and waste bags are provided. 914-328-1542
3) The Briarcliff-Peekskill Trailway/ Ossining- This 12-mile unpaved linear park runs from the Town of Ossining north to the Westchester County’s Blue Mountain Reservation in Peekskill. The trail is built on land originally acquired in 1929 by the Westchester Parkway Commission for the construction of the Briarcliff Peekskill Parkway. Construction of the parkway, however, was confined to an area between Route 117 in Pleasantville and the New York State National Guard Armory in Ossining. In 1977, the remaining right-of-way was re-designated a trailway.
The trailway affords walkers many beautiful views of water cascading over the magnificent stone spillway at the county’s Croton Gorge Park, and a view of the Hudson River from the 560-foot high Spitzenberg Mountain at Blue Mountain Reservation.
Closes at dusk. Accessible via Croton Gorge Park, Route 9 north or south to Route 129.
4) Croton Gorge/Cortlandt Croton Gorge Park is a 97 acre property at the base of the Croton Dam, and affords impressive views of the dam and spillway. The park is a popular spot for fishing, picnicking and hiking, with direct trail access to New York State’s Old Croton Aqueduct. The park is also available in winter. Dogs must be leashed. Dog waste bags are on the premises, but it’s always a good idea to bring your own.
5) The Leatherstocking Trail/ Mamaroneck-Nearly two miles long and approximately thirty acres, this trail crosses through the center of the Town of Mamaroneck, stretching east from the City of New Rochelle to the Village of Mamaroneck. The tract, only 200 feet wide in most places, provides a quick and easily accessed break from city life. It features a typical northeastern hardwood forest with occasional riverine areas. The Trail also hosts a tree nursery on the eastern end.
The Leatherstocking Trail can be accessed via several streets which intersect the trail, including Rockridge Road, Old White Plains Road, Country Road, Fenimore Road, Avon Road, Winged Foot Drive, Stratford Road, Highland Road, Weaver Street, Knollwood Drive, Bonnie Way and Pine Brook Boulevard (in New Rochelle). It can also be reached from the Sheldrake River Trails. The Trail is marked with white vertical rectangles on trees. While there are forks, even a wrong turn will not get you far off course. Dogs should be on a leash at all times. Much of the trail is within sight of homes so you’re not as isolated as you might think.
6) Kitchawan Preserve/Ossining-This is reported to be a great place to hike if you like dogs, or have a dog. Kitchawan Preserve is located on the Croton Reservoir, off of Route 134 between Route 100 and the Taconic Parkway. It used to be part of the Kitchawan Research Station of the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, but in 1989 was acquired as Westchester County parkland, and has since become a draw with canine-owning local residents. As with all Westchester parks that allow dogs, they are required to be on a leash no longer than 6 feet for the safety of the dogs and the wildlife living there. Most of the trails at Kitchawan are in the eastern half, where the parking area is. The western half is accessed by crossing a short bridge over Little Brook. The western part of the preserve features farm ruins, and more rugged and wild terrain. There are connectors to the North County Trailway, the South County Trailway and the Putnam Trailway. At the Westchester County Parks website (www.co.westchester.ny.us/parks/Trailways.htm) a map is available.
Directions: The entrance to the preserve is easily accessible from Route 134, and there is a parking area.
7) The Old Croton Aqueduct Trail/Yonkers- The Old Croton Aqueduct trail, accessible through Tarrytown’s Gracemere Park and the Tibbetts Brook Park section of the trail in Yonkers is perfect for jogging, hiking, dirt biking and walking with strollers. The trail is open year round.
The Aqueduct vistas include leafy green space, backyards and local parks, village centers, great and small historic sites, trickling rivulets and Hudson views. The trail can be muddy after a heavy rain but, on the whole, drainage is good. Without a map (available from Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct) visitors may have difficulty navigating some of the trail’s detours. Dogs must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet and be cleaned up after. There are links to trails with Rockefeller State Park, and Rowley’s Bridge Trail in Hastings on Hudson. Other trails like the South County Trailway are a short drive or walk to the east.
8) Ward Pound Ridge Reservation/Cross River- The 4,315 -acre park makes Ward Pound Ridge Reservation the county’s largest park. Its 35 miles of hiking trails run through a variety of terrain and landscapes including woodlands, streams and meadows. You and your dog can take a self-guided nature tour and identify the 70 species of trees and 185 different varieties of birds inhabiting the preserve, or you can search for the ancient Native American petroglyph and ‘Leatherman’ rock cave. (continued on pg. 28)
(continued from pg. 14) There is a parking fee and a leash law. The park is open seven days a week, 8am to dusk, year-round. There are areas for picnicking, lean-to camping, fishing and cross-country skiing. The park is home to the Trailside Nature Museum, which hosts weekend nature programs year-round. Dogs must be leashed and are not allowed in the picnic area.
Directions: The reservation entrance is near the junction of Routes 35 and 121 south in Cross River. Accessible from Hutchinson, Bronx River, Sprain Brook and Saw Mill River parkways, and Route I-684, I-287 and 22.
Westchester residents who are interested in exploring other trails with their dogs can find more at a variety of websites (for example, www.westchestertrails.com) and can become involved in the Westchester Biking & Walking Alliance (www.westchesterbikewalk.org) Walkable Westchester, published by New York-New Jersey Trail Conference (2009) lists comprehensive information on parks, trails, etc. and what is and isn’t allowed in each location. When hiking, letting someone know where you’re going is always a good idea as is having your cell phone with you, in case of emergency. And have a great time!
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