Don't make the same mistakes I did
Perhaps this information will not apply to most of you. Many people just ride a segment of the North County Trailway or they ride it in segments. My goal was to ride the entire length of the North County Trailway and then turn around and ride back to my car. When you get to the northern 'end' of the North County Trailway, you might miss the little sign that says you are entering Putnam County. The trail looks the same, but if you were planning to turn around here, you might not notice that you are done going North and should now go South.
On another day, I left my car in the same parking lot and got on my bike and started going South. I thought that on my first excursion I had done the entire North County Trailway up and back, but that was not correct. I went South for maybe a mile or two and came to a street crossing. This was apparently Warehouse Lane in Elmsford, NY. When you get to this point, you have finished the North County Trailway.
I didn't see any sign to that effect, but I could have missed it. Not knowing what to do, and not particularly worried, since there were other places on the North County Trailway where the signage was inadequate or confusing, I continued ahead. I ended up in a parking lot. Couldn't find any trail leading out from the end of the parking lot, so I turned around and headed back to Warehouse Lane.
Followed some yellow signs with arrows on them, but they petered out and I did not know where to go. Checked googlemaps on my cell phone. That is when it dawned on me -- three things:
1) I had previously gotten to the end of the North County Trailway.
2) The North County Trailway does NOT run into the South County Trailway, as I had incorrectly assumed.
3) You have to go on city streets to get from the end of the North County Trailway to the beginning of the South County Trailway.
Overall, great to have this biking trail, but warning about Echo Lake State Park section
I normally use the northern part of this trail, but explored yesterday by starting in Yorktown Heights and heading south.
When heading South, the bike trail has you cross the road (Rt 100, at a traffic light) and then ride the southbound shoulder. It's a wide shoulder, so that's fine. What I didn't like is that it brings you back in below Echo Lake State Park, where you have 2 way bike traffic in what is essentially the shoulder of the road, but protected by a guard rail. At first, I thought this was good, but it is so full of gravel and other debris that I ended up getting a flat tire!
I would recommend staying in the southbound shoulder for that stretch until the rail trail picks up again (at least that's what I will do if I end up in this stretch of the trail again).
Almost 100 miles round trip
I have cycled this entire trail from end to end a few times already this year and its almost 100 miles round trip if you combine all three sections. It starts off being called the "old Putnam trial" in the Bronx's Van Cortland Park then goes by the South County trail and of course leads into the North county trail to the end in Brewster NY.
There are only a few completely "Paved" car free trails across the country that are 50 miles long. There may be prettier dirt and gravel covered trials in this country, but this is the best trail locally and has so many great qualities, like; long quite sections of forests and lakes, plenty of brooks, rivers, and waterfall features, towns, horse farms, apple orchards and nice peoples back yards to look at.
The trail suffered some erosion by super storm sandy and a small section was closed immediately north of the reservoir bridge but was just opened recently with limited passage at this point. Thank god because the detour has put you on a narrow dangerous road and up a steep hill. There is another spot where you are actually on the highway shoulder, but all of this is fine considering the real crime of the trails very beginning in Van Cortland park and the lack of trail in Elmsford.
The entire trails beginning in Van Cortland park and has no legitimate paved trail. Its a nasty muddy wood chip pit that's dangerous to bike on and still has the wood in the ground used for the rail road track which makes it impossible to bike over. You have to walk your bike thru ankle deep mud the first mile of trail after any rain because its lower and all water drains there. The parks dept. has refused to pave this one single mile to connect this entire trial to the park but has instead built a new club house for the golf course. This trail has been ignored.
The other even more dangerous work around is in Elmsford. Travelers are forced on to a main and very busy road with virtually no sidewalk. Google this section on route 9A in Elmsford and see what I am talking about.
This and all trails should be celebrated.
My husband and I parked in Amenia at the Rail Trail lot and biked 10 miles up to Millerton. With foliage full, only occasional views of countryside showed. But the trail was also a cool tunnel on a 90-degree day. Bugs are plentiful, so use repellent. Three flew in my eye.
Near Millerton in the middle of the woods is a series of three small houses, rustic, gate-size, and elegant facaded, which surround a small pen with long-horn bulls and a llama. A river rushes past on the far side. Charming and unexpected.
Millerton is a very appealing town, with the original Saperstein's clothing store carrying styles from the '50s, it seems, as well as New Age eateries and artsy shops.
We dallied about 15 minutes, then rode back to our car in Amenia. Whole trip took 1:40.
Then we drove up to Bash Bish Falls in Copake, took a dip along the trail to cool off, and headed home to CT, stopping at McEnroe's organic farm (on a hill on the right, between Millerton and Amenia) for egg salad, strawberries and Harney's apple juice. Yum.
Fabulous day trip.
Post Irene -- Millwood to Yorktown Heights Still Closed But Passable
As of my ride on Sept. 8, there were still barricades with "Path Closed" signs on a portion of the trail between Millwood and Yorktown Heights.
The barricades were being universally ignored -- and even on the officially "closed" section, all fallen trees had been cut and cleared at least enough to open the full width of the trail.
There were, however, many dead branches, and even several trees, still hanging precariously overhead.
There was also some flooding and lots of debris--mud, gravel and branches--on the trail. In a few spots, the trail shoulders were eroded. And in several places the asphalt had partially collapsed, effectively narrowing the trail to one lane. However, these were all well marked with orange cones and the trail was passable -- even for my recumbent trike.
I didn't travel north of Yorktown Heights -- although while driving home, I could see yet another "Path Closed" barricade on the north side of Route 35.
On Sept 9, I triked the Putnam County Trailway between downtown Mahopac and the trailhead at Putnam Ave. in Brewster. The trail was open with minor debris and flooding along with a few fallen, but cleared, trees in the heavily wooded section of rail trail between Mahopac and Willow Road. The new bike path extension between Willow Road and Putnam Ave. in Brewster showed very few signs of storm damage.
North County Trailway
Now that the trail has been extended 2.5 miles, we figured out how to start from the new part of the trail. Take the Metro North to Brewster, NY, make a left out of the train station onto N. Main St and then bear left onto Rt. 6. After a couple of miles go under a tressle; make a left onto Tilly Foster Rd, a left onto Old Mine Rd. and a right onto the trail. The new section is beautiful - scenic & much more hilly than the rest. There are hiking trails to the right after the lake too. From Brewster to Brooklyn is about 80 miles so we stay at either the Budget Motor Inn on Rt. 6 in Mahopac (1 block from the trail) or the Ardsley Acres Hotel Court - just open the door in the fence to get there!. This way we can enjoy the trail for a couple of days, including the wood bridge over Croton Reservoir, the towns of Brewster, Carmel, Mahopac, Yorktown Heights, Millwood, Pleasantville, Tarrytown, Ardsley, and of course the peace & quiet of the woods, bunnies, ponds & deer. This trail keeps getting better!
Ride on July 10th
"We drove up from Brooklyn on a beautiful day to ride the trail for the first time. We parked at Eastview and headed north. We had a great lunch at the Moonbean Cafe on Pleasantville Road in Briarcliff Manor. You exit the trail at the old Briarcliff Manor Station (now a library), go right out of the parking lot, right again at the T-intersection, and it's a short bike to town. North of the New Croton Reservoir Bridge, in a marshy area, we saw frogs, a turtle, and a beaver. At the end of the trail, in Mahopac in Putnam County, the OTB located on the main drag near the trail has restrooms."
A scenic breeze
"My friend and I first rode this on 6/18/2003. We rode it again on 7/18/2003 and made really good time (since we saved over 45 minutes reading the historical markers). We did the north and south trailway of 36.2 miles in 3 hours.
As you can tell by the posted pictures on here, the scenery is plentiful and full of history.
You enter off Route 6 in Mahopac next to Wallouer's Paint (on the left) and the parking lot is just behind it to the right. The trailhead is right there and the first 1.5 miles is downhill, so just coast. You will go over the Putnam Division Bridge over the Croton Reservoir. The bridge was built in 1905.
A good rest stop to take is in New Castle around mile 11.5 or so just before you hit the old Millwood Station (which looks like an old Foto-Mat).
It's a small suburb of Millwood and has a small deli on the right.
Then it's back on the trail and from mile 12-18 it basically hugs and follows Saw Mill River Road.
The trail will first share the road with Saw Mill River Road for .5 to .75 miles on the right shoulder and it's a wide shoulder so you're safe and there are plenty of ""Bike Route"" signs.
The only DANGER is you do ride through an exit lane and there's no marking for cars to watch out or for bikes. That was a little scary as the speed limit does exceed 55mph.
Then the trail crosses over for 2 or so miles on the left shoulder behind the guardrail. Then it crosses over to the right again around mile 18.
You will then come to the old Briarcliff Manor Depot which is very beautiful and has been converted to the Briarcliff Manor Public Library. Behind it is a picnic pavilion, parking and recreation fields.
The next 4 or so miles is all woods with some benches and it's real quiet.
The trail ends at with 2 bike signs reading east and west.
Straight ahead is a bridge with stone sides and it's scenic.
It should be noted that straight is obviously south. To the left it goes down to street level and ends at a Con Edison plant. (If you happen to cross the road, it's their parking lot.) If you cross and go under the overpass, you can ride up the on ramp to the Taconic and stay on the grass and there will be an exit/service road that enters a small lot and you can get back on the bridge).
If you continue south past the bridge there is an orange fence blocking you but to the right is a small opening, so get off your bike.
It does not make sense for it to be there as it is paved for a bit before switching to gravel and dirt. Maybe a sign saying, ""Unpaved, ride at own risk"" would be better.
If you go to the right, it will take you further to Tarrytown on a feeder trail near Sunnyside Road near a reservoir. This feeder trail will connect you on the trail a few miles south.
Read my review on the South County Trailway to get exact details after the orange fence. It's titled South County Trailway from 6/18 and the the path continuation starts at paragraph 9.
Happy riding and remember, after the South County Trailway ends in Yonkers, it does connect to the John Kieran Nature Trail in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx around 234th street, about 7 miles further. Read my review about that excursion under the New York City section for John Kieran Nature Trail."