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The final passenger cars of the Putnam Division of the New York Central Railroad ran in 1958, but the rail line that so influenced development of this area still sparks nostalgia. The "Old Put" carried commuters from New York City north to Brewster, where connections took travelers to Boston and Montreal. Freight service for farm products from rural areas of Putnam and Westchester counties continued until the 1980s.
Nearly 45 miles of the Old Put corridor, from Van Cortlandt Park in New York City north to Putnam County, have been converted into four connecting rail-trails. The Putnam Trailway is the northernmost of the trails atop the train line. Currently, nearly 12 miles are open for public use from the Putnam County line at Baldwin Place, where Westchester County's North County Trailway terminates, to Putnam Avenue in Brewster.
North from Baldwin Place is a gentle uphill slope. Busy Route 6 is just to the west, and a residential development flanks the east side of the trail. As you briefly enter a wooded area, Bloomer Pond appears on your right. Bucks Hollow Road runs adjacent to the trail here, providing several access points. The hamlet of Mahopac provides additional opportunities to access the trail.
Past Croton Falls Road the trail enters a mixed hardwood forest for the 1.7 miles to Lake Casse. The woods are busy with squirrels and chipmunks foraging for food and shelter. Many bird species live in these woods; their calls can be heard throughout the day.
To take in the view at Lake Casse, hop off the trail at Lake Road. After Lake Casse, the rail-trail descends and plunges into a dense forest. On the outskirts of the hamlet of Carmel, the trail runs along Route 6 again with the south bank of Lake Gleneida on the far side of the road. Swimming is prohibited because the lake is a municipal water supply. But in winter warmly dressed anglers cluster around their ice-fishing holes. Warm weather fishing and boating are also permitted here.
To reach the Somers trailhead from the Taconic Parkway, exit for US 6 East. At Baldwin Place turn right onto State Route 118. Parking for the trail is off of the second entrance into Somers Commons Shopping Center.
To reach the Old Mine Road Trailhead in Tilly Foster from I-84, take Exit 19 to State Route 312. Proceed west on Route 312 for about 1 mile. At the intersection of Route 312 and US 6 (Carmel Avenue), go straight. Turn left onto Tilly Foster Road. Trailhead parking is on the right.
This is an Awesome trail which was very clean, wide and many, many friendly people on the trail either cycling, walking or running. But for us 50+ cyclist, just be aware that the hills on this trail are killers or should I say, challenging for us recreational 50+ year old cyclists.
Lots of steep hills but lots of fun as well.
Ran this trail from the start at Putnam Ave (further north is not completed yet) down to Mahopac and back (9 miles round trip) and had a great run. The trail was well maintained, quiet, and had beautiful scenery. I would highly recommend for a run, bike ride, or walk with the family.
The well travelled trail nicely connects the Hamlet of Baldwin place with the business districs of Mahopac and Carmel. Travels between lakes, reservoirs, suburbia, and forest settings. At the northern terminus (putnam ave) a new section is near completion which will extend the path to the village of brewster.
This trail is nice because it not only went thru some nice woodsy spots, but it also cut through a few towns so you could stop and buy a snack or whatever if you cared to.
Lots of varied scenery (lakes, woods, farm fields, small towns, etc.) make the entire ride a pleasure. Great RR history as well. Highly recommended.
If interested, there are more photos, a short video and some detailed RR history maps about the trail here
Well maintained and varied. Trail follows small lakes and some nice little bridges. Agree with other reviews that one direction is a lot harder than the other, but would recommend this trail.
A great trail. travelling south from the trailhead in carmel/brewster is definitely a lot of climbing, more than most will want to handle if that's not your thing. the way back north is unsurprisingly more fun, less excersize. physics!
right now, as of july 2014, the trail has a TON of wild black raspberries on each side ready to be picked and eaten right there. they are...divine. some require long pants/no fear of being pricked to get, and some are just sitting there. probably won't last too long, so get 'em while they're ripe!! i'm about to tuck into a bowl of vanilla ice cream topped with said fruit myself.
Concur with all the prior posts. Went on the trail yesterday from the Brewster end for the first time this year. Was glad to see that the final section to Main St was under construction which will allow easy access from the MetroNorth station. Rode it to Mahopac and back,about 20 miles, and found no tree debris or trash on the entire length. Expect for some rare tree root bumps and frost heaves, the path is very even. As noted below virtually no services except for the occasional memorial benches. Many grades but all easily manageable except for the Carmel hill. Nice photo stop on the causeway over the reservoir.
Agree with another reviewer about the segment south of Mahopac regarding the numerous street crossings.
But the longer portion headed to Brewster is another story. Most of it had a nice variety of scenery from tree-lined, a few bridges, and several water views. There are 2 quite steep hills - fun on the downhill, but coming back tough to climb.
I was tired at the end of this ride, but 2 days later I am itching to make the 1-hour drive to ride it again.
I rode the Putnam Trailway on a hot July morning from Yorktown Heights (on the North County Trailway, about 4 miles south of where the North County meets the Putnam Trailway at Rt. 118 in Somers) to the trailhead in Brewster and return. This is a wonderful trail and I look forward to riding it again in the future when my wife and I visit her family in the area.
The southern portion of the trail from Somers to Lake Mahopac crosses a number of busy streets and is less scenic than the trail further north. Heading north from Lake Mahopac the trail is more wooded. My favorite section of the trail was the approximately 3.5 miles Lake Gleneida south of Carmel to the Brewster trailhead. In addition to being scenic with both dense forest and lake views, there is noticeable downhill grade heading toward Brewster that is very enjoyable and, equally important, a manageable climb on the trip uphill from Brewster.
Well I rode this on June 1st 2013 and what a great ride. Started at the Brewster trail head and went southwest to the Rte. 188 connection with the North Country trail. The trail has some inclines and descents that can be a bit tough but very doable. The surface is very smooth, the landscaping nice with benches all along the route. Good signage and as you pass a number of waterways there are some views. On a 1 to 10 scale I would give this an 8, an excellent ride that I’ll go back too and bring friends.
I did this trail on Monday 9/24 and had a great ride. I did it from Brewster down to the end at Rt 118, there is no sign telling you where the Putnam trail end and the North County Starts. I had a great ride as it was a very nice early fall day. I ran into a crew from the County working on the trail and in talking to one of the crew he told me that there are planes to extend the trail to the Connecticut border. Of course the new section is the best of the best. Like other reviewers said coming out of the north end there is a though climb up a long hill but the ride back down is great. After reading the other reviews there is not much I can add. The high light for me is the old RR bridge going across Middle Branch Reservoir and then another old RR bridge going across Rt 6. I had both my Road bike and Mt bike with me and because of the long hill I did the Mt bike as it has more gears. By the way on my 22 mile round trip I saw mostly Road bikes.
I'm not a meander kind of cyclist so the thought of riding great flat distances doesn't appeal to me... but this one has some long gentle inclines as well as really nice descents! That is, when you're heading in the NE direction. Coming back from the Middle Branch Reservoir you'll have some tough slopes to deal with if you're more of a rec rider but you can always walk your bike. All in all I loved it!
I parked at the southern trailhead at 6 and 118. Beware, there were only a few spaces left and the lot on the side of the street with the trailhead is off limits.
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.
Although there's still an orange fence that's modestly preventing users from using the new and final segment, you can just hop right over. From the Brewster train station, travel east on Rt 6 for .9 miles and you'll see the trail entrance on the right at the intersection. If you turn right, there's a gravel space for about 5 cars with green bike trail parking signs.
This last segment mimics the landscaping of the rest of the trail with nice planters and curbing. The drainage on this new section is impeccable and you can clearly see they are not finished with it yet as some stones are in place and the web netting with hay is still waiting. A typical wooden fence on the left is in place.
There's no "grand" overhead wooden signage like on CT's Farmington Canal line and since the "Ol' Put" ended/started in Brewster, it doesn't feel right just yet. Perhaps they should advertise at the train station about the trail being so close.
Eight years ago it was piecemeal and all 11 miles are finally finished.
The new part of the Putnam Trailway is beautiful and completed. It is a lot more hilly than the North County Trail which it seamlessly connects to, and well worth the effort of climbing the hills (which are up and down in both directions). Sometimes it feels like an aerial view, seeing houses below and the breathtaking vistas. The trail ends at Putnam Avenue and Rt. 6E where you can reward yourself with pizza from the strip mall to your right. Or eat at Tom's Diner in Brewster next to the Metro North train station - just continue on Rt. 6 to get there.
Started in Carmel at the new parking area off rt 6 and followed the sign to bike trail that I never found rode about a mile up hill and back. Saw a fenced off area off the road up toward a RR overpass that is not completed. Then I figured the trail must be down the other direction. Apparently this sign was put up qa little early and is misleading. Anyway after our 2.5 mile warmup we found the trail off of Tilly Foster Rd.
The new trail is beautiful as it cosses the resevoir and continues upwards thru the countryside. the hills are a little steep but make for a speedy return trip to cool off. I followed the trao all the way to the North Conway trail, but also got a little lost near the lake when I missed a crossing near a busy intersection.
It was a nice detour near the lake and a small marina. Also a bike shop where I browsed and bought cold drinks. Overall an enjoyable ride that had many ups and downs compared to my local rail ride. I will probably return again as the leaves change to enjoy the wondeful scenery.
Just rode the newest leg of this trail and it turned out great. There is parking along Route 6 in Carmel just east of Route 312 at end of Tilly Foster Road. Take a short ride on Tilly Foster (no traffic) and hop on Railtrail. The completion in Putnam is now from Baldwin Place, under Seminary Hill Road to Carmel.
There is a steep hill which was not part of original Railway but they had to get across a busy Route 6 so they built a bridge to do it. It's pretty steep (traveling west) but worse case you can walk it. It's not that long. Use caution with small children (up or down), baby carriages and check your brakes going down.
This completion should be updated on RTC site. They are currently working on extension to Putnam Ave/Drewville Road which should be completed soon. There is a shopping center not far from there. Then it's on to Brewster (we hope)
I rode this trail yesterday, starting at the South end, where it connects to North County Trail. The Putnam Trailway is a beautiful ride for exactly 10 miles North from there. It ends at a very small road, which I was unable to identify, past Carmel. It is a great trail, nicely paved, but not exactly a rail trail, as some of the hills near the North end are definitely not railroad grade.
I'm sure that the long term plan is to extend it another mile or two to eventually end in the Village of Brewster. Call the latest leg another step in the right direction.
I'm of course very happy the trail is longer, but when it ended near Lake Gleneida I would ride a little way north and have a choice of food stops, etc. What is at the new North (East) end? Is there a park or a village or good road to someplace? Thanks.
Forgot to add: Parking is very limited at the Tilly Foster Rd. entrance. Be prepared to wedge in along the fast rising road shoulders and watch out for the copious poison ivy!
As listed by a previous poster, the section from Tilly Foster (continuation of Rt 312 where it crosses Rt 52) to Seminary Hill and the lake is open. I took a run over there at lunchtime to check it out in preparation for an upcoming family ride later in the month. I was surprised by the grades - it is not your typical 4% or less rail bed trail. I was on my folder which has limited gearing but am in pretty good shape for an old guy. It reduced me to 1st gear for a stretch approaching the Rt 6 overpass. Still, it was a nice ride (other than getting drenched by a fast moving thunderstorm).
The north end extension of the Putnam Trailway is now open. It runs 2+ miles from just south of the intersection of NY 6 & 52 to just south of NY 6 & 312. They may not have cut the ribbon, and some finishing landscaping and cosmetic fencing are not yet done, but the route is nicely paved. There are some pretty views and nice stretches thru woods, but also some industrial backyards. Many thanks to all involved - NYS Parks, Putnam Cty Parks, RTC...
I noticed today that construction is underway to add an additional 1.3 miles to the north end of the trail.
"The Putnam Trailway is 7.5 miles long and is paved it's entire length.
The north end is at Seminary Hill Road in Carmel although the best parking is a half mile south on Willow Spur where it connects with Route 6.
The south end of the trail is at Route 118 (Baldwin Place Rd.) in Mahopac. At this point the trail continues south as the North County Trailway.
The northern 4.5 miles of the trail are mostly through woods. Road crossings are typically through tunnels or over bridges including a high bridge over Drewville Rd.
The southern portion is more urban and has several street crossings.
Like most rail trails the trail is fairly level. At the north end the altitude is about 530 feet and at the south end it's about 630 feet. In between the altitude varies between 470 feet and 709 feet."
Rode the trail today. A new section is open eliminating the need to ride on the shoulder of busy Route 6. Much better for my kids. Great trail overall.
"We (husband, wife, and 11 year old son) rode the trail from the Rt. 118 parking lot (South end) to its current Northern Terminus at Seminary Hill Road. There are about 10 spaces in a small dirt parking area near the shopping center. Trail is in very good condition. The early part of the trail has a few slight ups and downs as it passes some suburban backyards and the backs of a few commercial districts. Once in the middle of the trail, the route moves farther back from the road, through some nice wooded areas, past Lake Mahopac, Lake Casse and then Lake Gleneida on its way to the North Terminus. We didn't stop at Lake Mahopac but it looks like a great spot for lunch. There's a short stint where the trail goes onto the shoulder of Rt. 6, but it's wide enough to be safe and visibility is good.
The Northern part features a fairly long gradual descent, so be aware that you'll do a little more climbing on your way South. But don't be deterred - it's a nice path and the grade is quite reasonable; just take your time.
Can't wait for the next section - and even more sections after that! Nice job to everyone!"
"Rode the new section from Seminary Hill to Mahopac on June 5 and then on to Baldwin Place. Great ride until Route 6 in Mahopac. This could be dangerous on weekends since it was never bike friendly anyway. Otherwise, great job Putnam County! "
"The new section's northern terminus is on Seminary Hill Rd at Glenida Court, just a short ride on Rt 6 from Brewster. I rode it today and continued on the North and South County trails all the way to Yonkers!! Great alternative to using a car."
"This trail is really well done. Two tall bridges, two tunnels (with all grafitti recently painted over), many access points, a conveniently located and clean porta potty and 4.7 miles of peaceful woods and nice residential areas. That changes abruptly when you reach route 6 in Mahopac. when you reach route 6 don't cross the road. Go left across Croton falls road and proceed down the left shoulder of route 6 for a couple hundred yards and pick up the trail again just past a nursery. After about 2 miles you connect directly with the North County Trailway which is another beautiful trail.
I can't wait for the carmel to Brewster section to get finished. "
"I had the pleasure of walking 4 miles of the trail beginning at Seminary Hill Road along with my co-worker. Throughout our entire walk we kept using adjectives such as beautiful, stunning, awesome to describe how we felt about the trail. Great job. I would like to find out however where the other entry/exit points are along the route besides the Seminary Hill road entrance/exit. Thanks for a wonderful trail. "
"Rode this trail today, 4/10/05, and what a great ride. The weather was great so the trail was heavely used with no problems. The work done on the two bridges is excelent and very well kept. I hope that it will extend past Carmal. Take a ride! Paul Olsen"
"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."
"As noted in the previous two trail reviews, the Putnam Trailway now extends north of Bucks Hollow Road in Mahopac (for approximately 4.7 miles). However, as of July 2004, the trail has not been completed as planned to Seminary Road in Carmel. This because the construction of a stream bridge has been delayed by condemnation proceedings (an adjacent property owner has refused the County of Putnam’s request to remove trees so that a prefabricated bridge may be installed by a crane).
For those wishing to explore the segment between Bucks Hollow Road and the missing bridge, ample municipal parking is available directly across from the Mahopac fire station at the intersection of US Route 6 and Croton Falls Road in Mahopac. Points north on the trail are accessible via a trailhead on the northeast corner there; points south on the trail may be accessed by following the marked/striped on-street bike route heading south on US Route 6 (the off street trail resumes in 0.75 miles on the left).
South of Mount Hope Road, the off street segment deviates from the orignal railroad route for a short stretch. As a result, there is a relatively steep incline and descent. There are also several street crossings in Mahopac area. The most scenic part of this trail segment is north of the fire station. "
"This Sunday, 3-28, people were using the new trail from Buckshollow to Crafts Corners. There is a beautiful bridge under construction at Drewville Rd in Crafts Corners. Also, another bridge over the West Branch of the Croton River needs to be completed to take the trail into Carmel. But the ride from Buckshollow to the UC bridge is worth the trip. It is not as flat as most rail trails but what a nice ride. Soon you will be able to go from Carmel to Yonkers."
"I have now been to two segments of the Putnam Trailway and i believe with the third it equals the 1.8 miles as explained on this page.
The first 3/4 to 1 mile starts at Seminary Hill Road in Carmel, parallel to Route 6. I was last there on 6/18/2003 and it was under minor construction. (The trail entrance is in someone's backyard and isn't easy to find). It starts on a decline to Route 6 from the top of the hill and is paved. The wooden railings (which were being built) are on both sides. It switches to gravel and continues along Route 6 into the woods before ending at an out concrete bridge with a 50 foot drop to rushing water below. I wrote something similar to this in the last review.
The next segment is from the other end of the bridge further on but it's impossible to get to since the water is too deep and there is no crossing but i expect it goes for at least .5 miles.
The last segment is in Mahopac at the official Trailhead at the beginning of Buckshollow Road, also off Route 6, behind the parking lot of Wallouer's Paint Store.
If you turn left (north) instead of going right (south) there's a log in front of you but you can go around it and the trail is paved. There is some grass and loose gravel on top and strong wooden railings on either end.
There is a gigantic road construction equipment with a big arrow (not yet blinking) in the middle of the trail for no reason i can think of except to obstruct path users. The trail continues just about .25 miles to the other end of Buckshollow Road (i presume it loops) and Route 6. To the right at the end is an American Legion office with new looking siding, but the position of this building and the architecture tell me it was an old train depot."
"Yesterday my friend and I biked from Carmel to Yonkers
on the Putnam and North and South County Trailways in very beautiful weather. I will post pics soon.
First off, we started at Seminary Hill Road, just down
the hill parallel to the road where the trail starts. In order to this, though, we had to cut through some property. There is a paved descent with workers presently putting up wood rails on the side. At the bottom it's gravel for awhile. Then the trail takes you through the woods through a new housing development and abrubtly ends at an unfinished bridge with a 50-foot drop with rapids below.
The trail must curve a lot to the left because we couldn't find it. We went on Route 6 into another housing development and a neighbor told us she had the same problem and we couldn't access it from where we were. She noted that there's another bridge out at Webber Hill Road. After that it must start and end at Buckshollow Road in Mahopac.
Take Route 6 a few miles (uphill mostly) into Mahopac. Pass a shopping center on your right and a bikeway on your left. Just after that there is a Wallower's paint store and the trailhead.
If you decide to go south toward Carmel, it's paved with wood railings. However, there's a gigantic road construction piece (the kind that blinks a huge arrow) in the center of the road for no reason. It continues a long ways back. A daily path jogger told me it goes pretty far, but he's not sure.
Note: My friend who lives in Carmel will bike this route very soon and let me and us know just how far back it goes. "
"During my visit to this trail today I observed that the planned trail extension north from Mahopac has begun.
Just beyond the current trail terminus on Route 6 in Mahopac, trees and other foliage have been cleared from the former railroad right-of-way as far north as my naked eye could see. Grading and surface preparation had not been started as of my visit.
Proposals call for the trail to be extended at least as far north as Brewster. I’m not certain as to how many miles the construction work now in progress will reach.
I’ll check back sometime during the fall to see how much more progress, if any, has been made."
"The first segment of the Putnam County Trailway is very nicely designed.
In-line skaters will appreciate the excellent paved surface. Long-haul bikers will appreciate the direct connection with Westchester's North County Trailway.
Designated parking in Somers is currently quite limited, although there is a major shopping center parking lot nearby. Parking in Mahopac is more readily available on adjacent side streets.
There were a few busy street crossing along the 1.8-mile segment so families with young children will need to exercise caution.
The views from this segment aren't really all that great; better vistas are found in Westchester.
If you're nearby, take it in. Otherwise, tag it on to a ride on the North County.
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