OLD CROTON AQUEDUCT TRAIL:

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NEW YORK

-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-

Last Updated:       August 27, 2005

Length:                 Old Croton Aqueduct Trail; 26 miles

                              Croton Gorge Park to Spring Street in Ossining; 5 miles

Difficulty:             New Croton Dam to First Detour; Easy. Flat, gravel and hard packed trail.

                              Croton Gorge Park to Old Croton Aqueduct Trail; Moderate. Must take a gravel switchback trail from the park up to the Trail.

                               Old Croton Aqueduct Trail; Moderate overall. Original trail sections are flat and either hard packed dirt, grass or single track. Detour sections include steep grades 

                               and on-road sections that are not always well marked. Mountain bike recommended. Detour sections not recommended for kids.

Directions:

To start from New Croton Dam; Take exit 6 off of I-684 to Route 35 west. At the Routes 35 & 100 junction, go left on Route 100 south. At the next junction,  go right on Route 118, then continue straight onto Route 129, when Route 118 turns right. When you see signs for the Croton Dam, look for a left hand turn that will take you up to the dam. Note; When we rode this trail, you had to take a detour to get up to the dam by continuing straight and following the detour signs. When you reach the top of the dam, a small pullout for cars is located on the eastern side of the dam, next to a small granite traffic circle. Here, you'll spot a metal gate blocking the start of the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail, which starts out as packed gravel. 

You can also access Route 129 from Routes 9 & 9A along the Hudson River.

To start from Croton Gorge Park; Take exit 6 off of I-684 to Route 35 west. At the Routes 35 & 100 junction, go left on Route 100 south. At the next junction,  go right on Route 118, then continue straight onto Route 129, when Route 118 turns right. When you see signs for the Croton Dam, continue straight past the turn off and you'll come to the left turn into the park, next to the sign. You can also access Route 129 from Routes 9 & 9A along the Hudson River.

Note; There is a gatehouse at the park entrance to collect a fee, but when we went, on a weekend, there was no fee and speaking with others in the park, we were told they haven't been collecting any fees lately. So call ahead or check on-line.

The trail starts from the New Croton Dam at the New Croton Reservoir and ends at Van Cortlandt Park at the NY City line, although not all sections of the trail are still intact. There are various detours along the route, some of which are not well marked. The detailed map below is a must for navigating these detours. The Metro-North Railroad's Hudson Line closely parallels the trail allowing you to ride the trail south and take the train back up to the Croton-Harmon Station from various other stations. A bike trail along Route 9 allows you to ride from the Croton-Harmon Station to Old Albany Post Rd, where you can then access the trail. For more information visit; Metro North Railroad

The Old Croton Aqueduct Trail follows the route of the Old Croton Aqueduct, which carried water to New York City from 1842 to 1955.  Most of the structure lies beneath the trail and has been designated a National Historic Landmark. The aqueduct itself remains intact; the northern sections continue to supply water to Ossining. The Croton Dam is the second Dam to bear that name. The first dam was washed away in 1841 while still under construction. The New Croton Dam began construction in 1892 and was completed on New Years Day 1907. The dam is over 180 feet high and built of large block stones. An arched bridge crosses over the jagged rock spillway. This is a must see. It's about a mile trek to cross the dam. For more information visit; OLD CROTON AQUEDUCT TRAIL  or  OLD CROTON AQUEDUCT .

Starting from Croton Gorge Park; This park is located directly below the New Croton Dam and contains picnic areas, a restroom, a small playscape and a large circular water fountain. The spillway flows down jagged rocks into the Croton River, which you cross over into the park. Above the spillway, an arched bridge crosses over to the dam. Definitely worth checking out the views from both on top of the dam and below it in the park. From the playscape, take the gravel trail to its left. You'll come to a junction for the River Trail, but bear left for the Aqueduct Trail. This is a steep switchback trail that takes you up to the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail. At about 0.4 mile, you'll come to the junction for the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail

Note; Left takes you up the gravel trail to the top of the New Croton Dam.

Head right along the flat, level, hard packed Old Croton Aqueduct Trail. At a mile, you'll come to a ventilation shaft. This looks like a stone chimney emerging from the earth. These were placed every mile along the underground aqueduct and thus let you calculate how far you've traveled along the trail. Continuing along the trail, you'll pass underneath two sets of transmission lines. Notice that the aqueduct was built right into the hillside, with the river valley down below. Keep an eye out at around 0.8 miles for a beautiful stone built house with slate roof below on your right. There are some very steep drop offs along the trail, as well as a few rock cuts. At 1.2 miles, you cross over a small road and at 1 miles, you'll come to another ventilation shaft. You cross a couple more small roads before you come to a sign that reads "unique area" at the 2 mile mark. A small parking area is located here and a wooden bridge takes you over a small gorge. We saw people heading down a path, so maybe it takes you to the Croton River and a unique feature? At 2.9 miles you come to the first Detour. Some steep climbs are included, as well as an on-road section, so its not recommended for kids. The trail from here travels through more of a residential area. Head right and spot a green wooden post with the letters OCA. A grass trail takes you up and then down past the GE Management Institute complex, where you emerge onto another road. Here, you must go right and then left under the bridge to bypass Route 9A. Follow Old Albany Post Rd up the hill and then go left up a steep Ogden Rd. At the top, the trail continues right, across from another green OCA post. This is roughly a mile detour. You'll come to another ventilation shaft at 3 miles, where you have to climb up a short, but steep hill to another road crossing. At 4.1 miles you come to Route 9. Turn left and cross at the crosswalk to continue on the trail. The trail takes you over a wide grassy area, but just stay straight to remain on the trail. You reach a square stone building at 4 miles, that serves as an access point down to the aqueduct. You can feel the cool air emerging from the open bared door. Next, cross the road and head right where the trail veers left across a grassy median. You come to another road at 5 miles where the trail enters a linear park. Follow the paved path up the hill and then down the steps on the other side. Across another road is the Ossining Weir Chamber. This is a National Park Service Historical Site. This large, square stone building accesses the old aqueduct below. There are tours that descend down into the huge brick lined tunnel of the aqueduct. Here, you cross over the Sing Sing Kill (river) on top of the aqueduct along the Village of Ossining Linear Park. When you reach the other side, a path left leads to a museum of the aqueduct and a path right takes you down to a viewing platform to see the Double Arches below the bridge you just crossed. The trail here is brick lined as it brings you to Main St. Cross over Main St and continue along the brick path to Maple St. Take a right down Maple to Spring Street at about the 5 mile mark.. Here, another detour begins by heading left down Spring St. I'm ending my tour here because it gets very confusing trying to follow this detour and the scenery is not worth it. Note however, that Sing Sing Prison is only a few blocks south alongside the Hudson River and worth a quick look.

HH

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