Van Cortlandt Park – South County Trailway Access


This past Sunday, I took my dog, Fox, to Van Cortlandt Park to experience some new scenery. It seems like the foliage this season has taken longer to develop than in previous years, but up in the Bronx, it was in full effect. By our apartment, some of the falling leaves have been especially alluring to my dog. The trip from Queens took about an hour and twenty minutes and we got off at the 242nd street subway stop (end of the 1 train).


As seen above, there were strategic signs pointing out how to get to on the greenway. From this point forward, there was only packed dirt, along with some random stretches of gravel. After a heavy rainfall, this dirt turns into messy mud puddles – pretty much only suitable for Tough Mudder competitors training for their next event.

Unless you’re on a mountain bike and looking to get your bike extremely dirty, this path is one to take only after 4 or 5 days worth of dry weather. The packed dirt makes it great for a cyclocross frame, hybrid, and even a road bike – though you might not have such a great time if you’re on 23c tires, as there are some old rail beds and branches consistently throughout the “Old Putnam” Trail.

If you’ve never had the chance to go up to Van Cortlandt and want to get a sense for what the terrain looks like, I found this video online of a cyclist riding on the trail, starting from Manhattan College (South County Trailway begins ~11:28).



Now there have been talks of revitalizing the Putnam Trail to provide access for both cyclists via a paved section on the 1.5 mile stretch, and a dirt section immediately adjacent to the paved portion that would be optimal for trail runners. According to a 2013 NY Times article, “The new trail would have a 10-foot paved section flanked by a 3-foot dirt path to accommodate runners and a 2-foot drainage strip to capture runoff.” 

While some mature trees would need to be removed, the initial plan mentioned that there would be close to 400+ new trees planted in place. However, this proposal did not come without substantial backlash from community members. A site to “Save the Putnam Trail” was even set up as well to gather petition signatures. As a cyclist, I may be biased, but I believe the proposed plan had potential to be the best of both worlds; however, there seems to be no end date in sight for this.

Remnants of wooden rail beds (taken with my DSLR last year).


Some great picturesque views from the Old Putnam Trail.


Looking north on the “Old Put.” Fox looking for squirrels.



As you may be well familiar with at this point, the South County Trailway is a rails-to-trail paved route that extends from the city limits of NYC up to the town of Elmsford, NY. From the NYC border to the end of the paved route (save for a few small sections of on-road cycling) there’s essentially 47 miles of multi-use, separated greenway. (More on the route in a future post, as I’ve ridden it several times).

Nevertheless, after walking up to the end of the “Old Put,” we turned back around and then headed up one of the trails just before the golf course (make a left onto the trail facing south on the “Old Put”).

Would be fun for mountain bikes.



“C’mon, let’s go!”


By the end of it, we had walked a little over 4 miles, explored a new area, and of course, recorded it on Strava (to continue the heat map development).



Time to take the train downtown from the end of the line.



Entirely empty 4 train car, not a sight you’ll see on during Monday morning rush hour.

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