The Rivertowns may have the river, and the Sound Shore the sound, but Northern Westchester has, well, Westchester—the widest, least-densely populated swath of it, packed, it seems, with parks, and more parks. Though they’re all worth a visit, here are the best of the best in the land above I-287.
*Unless otherwise noted, parks websites are accessible via parks.westchestergov.com.
Blue Mountain Reservation trail is part of the Briarcliff-Peekskill trailway.
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Running 12 miles from Ossining to Peekskill’s Blue Mountain Reservation, this trail passes through Croton Gorge Park and Teatown Reservation. The best part? Sweeping Hudson River views from 560-foot Spitzenberg Mountain in Blue Mountain Reservation.
Multiple on & off points (visit parks.westchestergov.com for more information); (914) 864–7275
Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park
Water recreation is the attraction here, with a mammoth pool that accommodates 3,500 swimmers, along with two bodies of fresh water: Mohansic Lake and Crom Pond. Both are ideal for fishing (bass, perch, and sun fish are popular catches; fishing license required) and boating (rent a pedal boat or rowboat, or launch your own with a regional permit). There’s plenty to do on land as well, with picnic areas, basketball and volleyball courts, and softball and soccer fields.
2957 Crompond Rd, Yorktown Heights
(914) 245-4434; www.nysparks.com/parks/148
Hammond Museum & Japanese Stroll Garden
Situated in a quiet corner of North Salem, Hammond draws on Eastern influences to form a small collection of artwork and a snaking garden pathway that leads from one picturesque scene to another. Open Wednesday to Saturday from noon to 4 pm.
28 Deveau Rd, North Salem
(914) 669-5033; www.hammondmuseum.org
Kensico Dam Plaza
Three hundred feet high and 1,843 feet long, the dam forms a breathtaking backdrop for the park at its base, complete with paths and picnic areas. It’s a popular spot for concerts, celebrations, and arts and crafts shows, as well as the home of the county’s September 11th memorial, The Rising.
1 Bronx River Pkwy, Valhalla (914) 231-4033
Mianus River Gorge Preserve
Open from April 1 to November 30 from 8:30 am to 5 pm, this 750-acre private preserve was established with the goal of protecting the old-growth hemlock forest around the Mianus River. For you, that means five miles of hiking trails through pristine forest (sorry, no biking, vehicles, picnicking, or pets).
167 Mianus River Rd, Bedford (914) 234-3455; www.mianus.org
Westchester County acquired this former dairy farm in the 1960s to “maintain and interpret” the county’s agricultural past. Farm animals are the main attraction here—cows, sheep, goats, turkeys, chickens, ducks, pigs, horses, and donkeys—but so are hayrides and seasonal events like Sheep Shearing and Meet the Baby Animals in May, or the Autumn Celebration and Halloween’s Boo Walk in the fall.
51 Rte 100, Katonah (914) 864-7282
North County Trailway
A 22.1-mile section of what is a 40+-mile bike path stretching from Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx to Carmel in Putnam County (it connects with the South County Trailway to the south and Putnam Trailway to the north). Ride this paved former Putnam Division of the New York Central Railroad rail bed from Eastview all the way to the Putnam County border, sans cars. Enjoy gorgeous views of the Croton Reservoir along the way.
Multiple entry & exit points (visit www.parks.westchester.gov for more detailed information)
This Saw Mill River Audubon Society HQ was established to protect Gedney Swamp, a 57-acre state-designated wetland, which drains to the New Croton Reservoir. Go for a walk on Pruyn Trail, which meanders along a boardwalk through the swamp, or visit the butterfly and hummingbird garden.
275 Millwood Rd, Chappaqua (914) 666-6503
The 2.1 mile Rockwood Hall Park hike at Rockefeller State Park affords Hudson River views.
By Stefan Radtke
Rockefeller State Park Preserve
Built at the request of John D. Rockefeller Jr. himself and, thanks to a series of carriage roads he built to navigate the 1,400-acre (acreage that’s generously grown with each bequeath from the Rockefeller family) landscape, the park offers abundant opportunities for nature hikes, bird-watching, fishing, walking, jogging, and even horseback riding.
125 Phelps Way, Pleasantville (914) 631-1470 www.nysparks.com/parks/59/details
Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture is a foodie’s dream destination.
Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture
A nonprofit collaborative farming organization designed to promote sustainable, farm-to-table food practices in Westchester and beyond. Visitors, welcome Wednesday through Sunday, can take a self-guided tour of the grounds, which feature greenhouses, live animals, pastures, and woodland trails. Sign up for a family tour for a guided go-around. The annual Harvest Fest in October is always a sold-out event.
630 Bedford Rd, Pocantico Hills
(914) 366-6200; www.stonebarnscenter.org
Ward Pound Ridge Reservation
It’s Westchester’s largest park, so don’t set off into the 4,315 acres of wilderness without a map—seriously, there are 35 miles of trails. You’ll be glad you did set off, though—there’s Gallery in the Park, which exhibits local artists’ work, and the Trailside Nature Museum, home to a large collection of mounted animals and American Indian artifacts. You can even camp here.
4 Reservation Rd, Pound Ridge (914) 864-7317