OLD CROTON AQUEDUCT TRAIL LETTERBOX:
WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NEW YORK
-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-
Planted: August 27, 2005
Length: Old Croton Aqueduct Trail; 26 miles
Difficulty: New Croton Dam to Letterbox; Easy. Flat, gravel and hard packed Aqueduct 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.
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 . For information concerning taking your bike on the train visit; METRO NORTH; BIKES .
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 ¼ mile trek to cross the dam. For more information visit; OLD CROTON AQUEDUCT TRAIL or OLD CROTON AQUEDUCT .
Starting from Croton
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
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 Aqueduct Trail and the top of the dam. At about 0.4
mile, you'll come to a trail junction. Left takes you up the gravel trail to the
top of the dam, but you turn right and head along the flat, level, hard packed Old
Croton Aqueduct Trail. At a ½ 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. With your back to the ventilation shaft, look across
the trail and spot the stone wall along the hillside. Follow the wall right to
spot the fallen tree lying across it. Go to the trees root end, where you will
remove a large flat rock to reveal the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail North
Letterbox with a small rock on top of it to help protect it. Please replace
the box as you found it. 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 ½ 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
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 it’s 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 ¾ mile detour. You'll come to another ventilation
shaft at 3 ¾ 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 ¾ 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
CLICK HERE FOR MAP
LETTERBOX LAST VERIFIED ON
MAY 12, 2009
TO EMAIL A VERIFICATION
BEFORE YOU SET OUT BE SURE TO READ THE
WAIVER OF RESPONSIBILITY AND DISCLAIMER
BIKE IT OR HIKE IT