Fast times on the Old Croton: Skip the Metro North and hike to Westchester

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail

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The Old Croton Aqueduct Trail might just be the thinnest state park in the country. The 26.2 mile long spit of flat land, built atop the pipe that was once responsible for getting drinking water to a growing city, stretches from Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx all the way to the Croton Dam in the northern reaches of Westchester County.

On a Google map the park looks like a green filament laid over the charming towns along the Hudson. So yes, the trail is on Google Maps, and that means it’s easy to follow the right path as it meanders through woods, town centers and sometimes people’s backyards.

But even if you’d rather keep your cell phone turned off, you’ll know you’re on the right trail because every mile or so there’s a small stone tower. These are old ventilators, used to keep the water that once flowed below fresh and provide access for pipe repairs. Nowadays, they act as trail markers.

At the end of the trail is the massive dam that holds back 34 billion gallons of water (give or take) in the New Croton Reservoir. It’s a breathtaking sight after hiking the marathon-length trail through the scenic suburbs.

26.2 miles is a whole lot of hiking for one day. But who said you have to do it all at once? Since the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail parallels the Hudson Metro North line, it’s easy to break the hike up into multiple days.

Another thing to keep in mind when planning your trip is that even though the trail officially begins in the Bronx, those first few miles are not the most pedestrian-friendly. No wonder experienced Croton hikers often opt to start at the Greystone Metro North Station, just north of Yonkers.

For more adventure ideas and tips (like historical sites to stop at on your 26.2 mile trek), check out the rest of this week’s newsletter.