New Segment Open -- But Beware of the Grade
There were a handful of free parking spaces (weekday morning) at the Old Mine Trailhead Park-and-Ride lot mentioned in the TrailLink description. I also passed three large Park-and-Ride lots in Mahopac that were directly adjacent to the Putnam Trailway. The large Park-and-Ride lot on Woodcrest Gardens at Route 6 opposite Lake Mahopac and the Four Brothers Pizza was completely empty.
The new trail section between Willow Street in Carmel Hamlet and Putnam Ave in Brewster was completely open as of my ride on Sept. 9. Unlike the North County Trailway in Westchester, there was very little tree damage from Tropical Storm Irene -- and aside from some minor flooding, the trail was in excellent condition the entire way.
Beware that this new section is NOT a graded rail trail and if you are an older rider or have young children, take a careful look at the Google Terrain map. There are three steep hill climbs that left my admittedly aged, but not terribly-out-of-shape legs, trembling. The most formidable was the Carmel Ave. overpass which, according to the Google Terrain Map climbs 50 vertical feet in about 500 feet of trail -- or almost a 10-percent grade! No wonder you see reflective-yellow "Steep Grade" signs.
New Segment Design:
Don't expect the deep woods feel of the North County and southern portion of the Putnam County Trailways on the new trail extension. The entire stretch has been cleared and landscaped with elaborate drainage catch basins and even storm-sewer grates along the hillside portions. Ironically, the tree clearing could have opened lovely views to the Middle Branch Reservoir, but the designers purposefully added a high berm (perhaps to mollify property owners) that effectively seals off any glimpse of water -- except for a short causeway which does offer views up and down the length of the reservoir.
At Willow Ave on the south end of Lake Gleneida, the transition between the old rail trail and new extension is immediately evident. There is even a display titled "A Tale of Two Trails."
Ironically, although you are seldom out of sight of buildings along the new trail extension, with the exception of one bike shop located in a warehouse building the abuts the trail, there are exactly zero places to stop for a snack or coffee until you reach Lake Mahopac.
The new extension offers a nice suburban-style off-road trail ride -- with some steep grades not normally associated with rail trails.
The New Putnam Trailway
"I echo what the last person wrote for access points. From the firehouse to the out bridge is amazing. You go under two bridges, the elevation changes rapidly and is trying on the legs and you go through several quiet neighborhood crossings. You will eventually come to the first pre-fabricated bridge (the second one has yet to be put up for obvious and annoying reasons). It's a red bridge and was just recently paved with concrete. The orange fence was open and I walked my bike across it, with the roadway some 50+ feet below. There was orange fence on the sides so I presume they will put railings up. Then there is a gate separating the trail from both sides of the bridge that one can easily climb over. This takes you all the way to the out bridge which is ready to be put up with all the construction materials in place. The drop is easily 75 feet with rocks and white water. The only way to get to the other side is back to Route 6 and back to Seminary Hill Road.
The new trailhead at Seminary Hill Road is great. Last summer it was still being built and it starts at street end. If you get off the trail and make your first right on Church Street and then make your first right on Route 6, you will see a stone bridge abutment on your right side. If you go around and stand on it, it goes parallel to a company that's moved and it goes through the neighborhood to across from the trailhead.
If you look across the road, there are signs for a wildlife sanctuary. To the right of it is a trail. Don't take that one. To the right of that in the open field is a trail which continues the railbed. This area is on a downslope and you can follow the trail into the woods in the distance. It curves right and this .75 mile stretch is great. All of a sudden you're in the cold woods and the railbed, with packed dirt is situated between great rock cuts. It ends at a gravel bed behind the plaza and eventually behind the oil company. It continues on and you get lost under the road bridge in the reeds. It crosses the road and this part is impassable unless you have thigh boots.
If you go down the road a few miles on your right you will see a reservoir and across it on a land bridge is the railway with a mini bridge in the center. Turn right before the reservoir and there is access on the left to the trail where many use it to fish and some tracks are still in place. It ends at the bridge which is enclosed by black fencing and someone wrote in paint on it, ""We Miss You XX Bridge"" (forgot the name of the bridge but it's written on there). The trail continues on the other side into the woods near people's houses. If you go down the road and make your first right you will see a lake on your left which used to be an old swimming hole with an old diving platform. There will be a stone bridge abutment on your left and if you look across into the woods it meets the elevation but when you ascend the steep bank, there's no remnants of a trail. Further up the road on a person's property is what looks to be an old depot but they are using it for storage.
This will eventually connect in some way to the Brewster North Yards, by the Corporate Park. Behind the Corporate Park the rails are intact and it crosses the road and continues as rail all the way to the state line and to the Danbury Railway Museum. By the Corporate Park it runs parallel to a body of water, on a land bridge and then by a Town Park in Brewster, not too far from the Brewster Station. It then crosses a tall bridge which I did (but would not advise to ANYONE including myself) and goes to the state line."