NORTH COUNTY TRAILWAY:
WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NEW YORK
-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-
Last Updated: May 27, 2007
Length: North County Trailway; 20.3 miles
Baldwin Place to Millwood (before the on-road detour); 12 miles
Tarrytown Lakes Spur Trail; 1.3 miles
Difficulty: Moderate. Paved rail trail, but some grades could be tough for kids on bikes. The on-road section after Millwood is not recommended for kids or bike novices.
To start from Baldwin Place; Take exit 7 off of I-684 to Route 116 west. Turn left when you reach Route 202. Take Route 202 southwest to the junction of Route 118. Turn right and head north on Route 118. Just before the junction of Route 6 in Baldwin Place the trail will cross the road. Parking is available at the Baldwin Place Shopping Center between Routes 6 and 118.
To start from the Yorktown/Somers border parking lot; Take exit 6 off of I-684 to Route 35 west. When you come to the junction of Routes 118 & 202, continue straight on Routes 35, 118 & 202. You'll come to the parking lot where the trail crosses the road at the border of Yorktown and Somers.
To start from the New Croton Reservoir parking lot; Take the Route 100 & 133 exit off the Taconic State Parkway northeast to Saw Mill River Rd. Take a right onto Station Rd for the parking area.
To start from the Route 117 parking lot; Take the Route 117 exit off the Taconic State Parkway or Route 9A to Route 117 west. The lot is on the left side. An overflow lot is located just west of this lot.
To start from the Old Saw Mill River Road parking lot; Take exit 23 off the Saw Mill River Parkway. Northbound; The parking lot is right off the exit ramp. Southbound; Turn left on Old Saw Mill River Rd and travel underneath the Parkway. Turn right up the off-ramp, then left into the parking lot.
The Metro-North Railroad's Harlem Line has a stop in Southeast, which is 4 ½ miles east of Carmel (start of the Putnam County Trailway) and a stop in Pleasantville, which is 1.4 miles from the Route 117 parking lot along the North County Trailway. This gives the hearty biker the option of doing a roughly 30 mile bike trip and then returning to your vehicle via the Metro-North Railroad. This is how we were able to bike so much of the trail without having to backtrack. The route to the stations is on-road and includes a couple of tough hills and thus is recommended for experienced bikers only. For more information visit; Metro North Railroad . If you click on the individual stations, they have available both directions and maps.
The North County Trailway is one of four interconnected rail-trails on the former New York Central Railroad's Putnam Division line. This former railroad provided freight and passenger service from 1881 to 1958 between the Bronx and Putnam County. Starting from Van Cortlandt Park in the northwest Bronx, the Old Putnam Rail Trail travels north to the South County Trailway in Westchester County. When you cross Old Saw Mill River Road the trail turns into the North County Trailway and continues north to Putnam County where it becomes the Putnam County Trailway . The Tarrytown Lakes Spur Trail travels west from the junction of the North & South County Trailways.
Starting from Baldwin Place; A signboard tells the history of the
old Putnam Division Railroad at the start of the trail. Other informative
signboards are scattered throughout the route. Brown mileage posts indicate the
distance from the start of the old Railroad Line in New York City
on top and mile markers on bottom.
Note; The Putnam County Trailway heads north from here.
Heading south, the trail heads into the woods
along a paved surface that is bumpy in spots from root growth. Also note that
scatted all along the trail are blue "emergency" call boxes. After 1
½ miles, you travel along a high berm, with power lines along your right. Be
prepared for a long downhill, then uphill ride as you pass by a wide open horse
farm. Very scenic. As you pass through some wetlands at 3.6 miles, another
signboard informs you, as well as, showing your location on a map. You reach the
Yorktown/Somers border parking lot after 4 ¼ miles. Next you come to a
bridge at 4.4 miles over a stream. Continue
across the bridge passing a sewer treatment plant on the right. At 5 ¼ miles,
just before entering Yorktown Heights, keep a lookout for an old Brakeman's
Warning pole. This consists of a rail in the shape of an upside down L,
hanging over the center of the trail. The chains hanging down over the trail
would hit the Railroad Brakeman, who was on top of the train and warn him
of an upcoming bridge or tunnel. *See below for history. Another
informative signboard is located here as well. Next you'll come to
Heights. Here, you'll find the old Railroad Station built in 1905, as well as picnic
tables. After passing through town you travel past a marsh and go through a
couple of tunnels before you finally reach the New Croton Reservoir parking
lot at 8 ½ miles. Use caution crossing over busy Route 118 as you come to
the highlight of the trail, the crossing of the reservoir over the old Putnam
Railroad Bridge, which was built in 1905. Fantastic views and not to be
missed. The trail heads back into the woods along the reservoir before heading
through a tunnel, after which a spur trail takes you up to a small parking area
off of Route 134 at 9.8 miles. You enter Millwood at 11.7 miles and pass by
their old, dilapidated Railroad Station. Finally, after 12 miles, you come to
the last parking area, just off Route 100 in Millwood, before the on-road
detour. Note; This 3 mile on-road detour is not
recommended for kids or novice bikers as it takes you along Route 100, with high
From the parking lot the
trail takes you to a cross-light over Route 100. A wide shoulder is used for the
bike lane as you head south. You travel underneath the Taconic State Parkway
and come to a crosswalk at 13.2 miles that takes you over to another parking
lot. Cross over and continue south. You'll reenter the paved trail for a bit and
then head back on-road at 14.7 miles after you cross back over. Use caution when
you must cross over the on-ramp to Route 9A. After passing under a bridge
the trail is now separated from the road via a guardrail at 15 miles.
Note; A spur trail at 15.3 miles takes you to the
& Briarcliff Library parking lot. This Tudor-revival style Library
was once the Briarcliff Manor Railroad Station.
The trail finally heads
back into the woods at 15 ½ miles, however, you still parallel the roadway.
You'll come to a fork in the trail at 17 miles. Right takes you up to Route 117.
Continue straight underneath Route 117 and another spur trail will take you up
to the Route 117 parking lot.
See above for information on taking the Metro-North
back to the Southeast Station.
Continuing along the trail, the Saw Mill Parkway is on your left and the transmission lines are along your right. After about ¾ miles, you pull away from the highway a bit and head into the woods. You'll pass by an old railroad mileage marker at 18.9 miles that reads NY22, meaning 22 miles to New York. The trail runs along a ridge and at 19.4 miles begins a slight accent until it levels off after passing through a rock cut. At 20.3 miles you'll come alongside some old railroad tracks just before a bridge over Neperan Rd. This is the end of the North County Trailway and the start of the South County Trailway straight ahead.
Note; Right leads to the Tarrytown Lakes Spur Trail.
Tarrytown Lakes Spur Trail:
From the end of the North County Trailway turn right up a short hill then down to Neperan Rd. Turn right along the sidewalk and you'll come to a bike route sign. The Neperan Road parking lot is on your right. Take the cross-walk over Neperan Rd and enter the dirt driveway for the Tarrytown Lakes Water Works building. Pass through the gate and enter the paved trail. This will take you alongside Lower Tarrytown Lake/Reservoir. The trail heads into the woods as it follows the lake. Very peaceful compared to the North and South County Trailways that parallel the Parkway. This trail ends after 1.3 miles at the junction of Sunydale Ave and Neperan Rd. You can cross the road to a parking lot located at the top of Upper Tarrytown Lake/Reservoir.
Prior to 1888 when Westinghouse developed a reliable air brake, stopping a train or a rolling car was very primitive. Iron wheels, located atop cars, were connected to a manual braking system by a long metal rod. The brakemen, usually two to a train, would ride on top of the car. On a whistle signal from the engineer, the brakemen, one at the front of the train and one at the rear of the train, would begin turning the iron wheels to engage the brakes. When one car was completed, the brakeman would jump the thirty inches or so to the next car and repeat the operation to apply the brakes on that car. The brakemen would work towards each other until all cars had their brakes applied. In good weather, the brakemen enjoyed riding on top of the cars and viewing the scenery. However, they had to ride up there in all kinds of weather - in rain, sleet, snow and ice, as well as good weather. Jumping from one car to the next at night or in freezing weather could be very dangerous, not to mention the fact that the cars were rocking from side to side. Today, a train brakeman assists the conductor by throwing switches, hooking the train cars together and ensuring the safety of the train, passengers, and freight.
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