The North County Trailway is the longest of the four connected rail-trails breathing new life into the former New York Central Railroad's Putnam Division line. The "Old Put" provided passenger and freight service between New York City and Brewster, in Putnam County, from the 1880s. Passenger service ended in 1958 and freight services ended in 1980.
The trail spans 22.1 miles in Westchester County. From Mount Pleasant (where it becomes the South County Trailway
on its southward trek to the New York City line) the trailway extends north to the Putnam County border, where it seamlessly transitions into the Putnam Trailway
, rolling 9.7 miles north. From Old Saw Mill River Road at the North County Trailway's southern end, the trail runs parallel to the busy Saw Mill River Parkway on the right and woodlands and a power transmission corridor on the left.
After crossing over Old Saw Mill River Road, there is a side trail on the left that leads down to a parking lot along the road. The trail then crosses State Route 117, Bedford Road, on a bridge. Highway traffic is never far away from this southern section of the trail, but a narrow strip of trees provides welcome shade and screening from the traffic.
Just beyond Pleasantville Road is a side trail to the Tudor-style Briarcliff Library, formerly the Briarcliff Manor train station. Then you hit the first of two on-road detours: Saw Mill River Road, which parallels the trail corridor here, provides a wide shoulder for the short distance to Chappaqua Road, when the rail-trail returns and runs you through the woods between Saw Mill River Road and the Taconic State Parkway.
Your second journey on the shoulder of Saw Mill River Road begins at the intersection of North State Road. This 0.75-mile detour takes you past Echo Lake State Park and over the Taconic State Parkway before the North County Trailway resumes on rail corridor. The trail through Millwood looks out on commercial and industrial buildings before crossing Millwood Road and entering a wooded stretch.
About 0.75 mile of this wooded area is the edge of Kitchawan Preserve. This sprawling property on New Croton Reservoir, once a research facility of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, now has miles of hiking trails to explore. Staying straight on the rail-trail brings you to a bridge over an arm of the reservoir that supplies water to New York City.
In the village of Yorktown Heights shops, including boutiques, galleries and jewelers, as well as restaurants, ranging from fast food to delis to cafes, are only a block off the trail. Shortly after leaving the village the trail crosses Saw Mill River Road -- this time at a steep grade, so be cautious. Beyond Granite Springs Road a large orchard signals the trail's transition to a more agricultural and forested setting for its final 6 miles. The trail ends in Somers at Baldwin Place when you emerge from the woods.
The Putman Trailway begins when you cross Route 118 (Tomahawk Street). Parking here is adjacent to a shopping center that contains a number of restaurants.