Fall is the perfect time to get out and exercise: It’s the last chance to do so without having to put on 30 layers of clothes, plus you can see beautiful foliage. (Peak viewing season in Westchester County is expected to hit sometime between the last week in September and the third week of October this year.) But with hundreds of miles of trails all over the county, it can be hard to know where to start.
We asked Jane Daniels, the author of Walkable Westchester, to share a few recommended fall hikes for the best foliage viewing experience.
595 Saw Mill River Rd, Yorktown Heights
Daniels: “Brilliant fall colors line the North County Trailway as it approaches the former railroad bridge with sweeping views over the Croton Reservoir. The trailway is accessible to everybody: people on bicycles, in wheelchairs, and with dogs on leashes.”
Directions: From the Taconic State Parkway, take the Route 100 exit in Millwood and head north for 4.3 miles to Route 118. Turn left and go 0.5 mile to the parking area. Head south on the trailway and cross Route 118. It is 0.2 mile to the bridge.
1 Robin Dr, Peekskill
Daniels: “There is something for everyone at DePew Park: walk, run, or walk your dog. Short strolls take you to Lake Mitchell, by wetlands, or into adjacent Blue Mountain Reservation for a longer hike.”
Directions: From Route 9, take the South Street/Hudson Avenue exit and head east and uphill on Hudson Avenue. At 0.5 mile, turn right onto Walnut Street at a sign that says DePew Park. The park is accessible by train from Peekskill’s Metro North Station. Follow Hudson Street for 0.7 mile to Walnut Street and the park.
Cyrus Field Road, Irvington
Daniels: “Wander through Irvington Woods on wide woods roads or narrow trails. Visit Split Rock, Sunset Rock, or relax on Jenkins Rock at the reservoir.”
Directions: Take Route 9 to Irvington, then turn east onto Harriman Road heading away from the Hudson River. When Harriman Road reaches the Irvington Reservoir, it makes a sharp right turn and becomes Cyrus Field Road. Follow Cyrus Field Road to the park entrance to the left.
1600 Spring Valley Rd #1, Ossining
Daniels: “Enjoy Teatown’s newest trail and discover that there are other lakes at Teatown which have far fewer visitors. The Twin Lakes Trail starts across the street from the Nature Center and gives hikers a 2.3-mile vigorous hike.”
Directions: From the Taconic State Parkway, take the Route 134 exit and turn west. Just past the southbound exit ramp, turn right onto Grant Street; do not make the hard left onto Illington Road. At the stop sign, turn right onto Spring Valley Road. It is 0.7 miles to parking at the Nature Center.
6 Reservation Rd, Pound Ridge
Daniels: “A rugged 4.9-mile hike miles takes hikers to six places in the park with Rock in their name. Which rock is more interesting? Visit all of them and decide for yourself.”
Directions: From I-684, turn east onto Route 35. Go 3.8 miles and turn right on Route 121. It is 0.1 miles to the park’s entrance on Reservation Road. To reach the Rocks Trail, turn right onto Michigan Road and drive to the end. You will need to take the yellow trail to the beginning of the Rocks Trail.
County-based helicopter service Wings Air can help you take to the skies to enjoy the gorgeous fall foliage from above such scenic Westchester landmarks as Kykuit, the Tappan Zee/Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, Bear Mountain, and West Point to the north. Taking off from the centrally located Westchester County Airport, trips fly daily, weather permitting. Tickets start at around $305 for half-hour shared flights, with the option to splurge on a private couples experience for $730.
For more trail tips, check out Jane Daniels’ book, Walkable Westchester. The third edition of the book features information on 200 parks with more than 600 miles of trails.