Hudson Highlands Gateway Park
Cortlandt, Westchester County
325 acres

Scenic Hudson worked with New York State, Westchester County, the Town of Cortlandt and more than 130 individual contributors to purchase the property.


Directions:

Parking area by Sprout Brook Park ballfields on Sprout Brook Road.  Exit off Bear Mountain Parkway, Highland Avenue.  If heading west, turn right (north) on Highland Avenue and go about 0.5 of a mile and turn right onto Sprout Brook Road; drive 0.5 of a mile and turn right into the parking area just north of the ball fields. The trailhead is just across the street from the parking area, through an opening in the guard rail.


Geology:

The Annsville Creek runs through the park.  Sprout Brook winds along the eastern border.   


Habitats:

woodlands, streams, steep slopes, exposed bedrock, and meadows

Cortlandt to Putnam Valley

"This is the only portion of Putnam Valley that maintains a substantial (although tenuous) degree of habitat connectivity with its Westchester neighbors. Because of this connection, it has the potential to serve as source habitat that continues to keep habitat hubs in Cortlandtís Hudson Highlands Gateway Park (#6) and Camp Smith Military Reservation (#5) abundant with wildlife. But this connection is tenuous. In Westchester, the only real connection is along the Catskill Aqueduct and nearby stream corridors. The majority of potential connections run through the Town of Philipstown, which is not, to date, part of the Croton-to-Highlands Biodiversity Plan."

"Amphibians of conservation concern in this area include spotted salamander, marbled salamander, slimy salamander, gray treefrog, red-spotted newt, and wood frog. Reptiles include worm snake, black racer, black rat snake, and northern copperhead. Bird diversity is also high, including barred owls, Cooperís hawks, and a variety of songbirds ..."

Source: Croton to Highlands Biodiversity Plan; http://www.wcs.org/media/file/CHBP_lo-res.pdf. or

http://216.239.39.104/search?q=cache:htHJwgl1qHoJ:www.wcs.org/media/file/CHBP_lo-res.pdf+%22Croton+to+Highlands+Biodiversity+Plan%22&hl=en


History:

Revolutionary War --  the hilltops in the park were used to light signal fires to send messages to troops up and down the Hudson River.  It is possible that troops were stationed nearby.

19th century  --  hills stripped of trees to make charcoal that would feed the furnaces of the regionís Iron Foundries, such as the West Point Foundry in Cold Spring.

late 1800s to about 1950 --  park used for farming, especially dairy. Much of the milk went into making Hortonís Ice Cream.

early 1970s  --  gravel mining finally ceases on the eastern side of  the park.  

later 1970s forward --  plans made to build 1200 multifamily and individual houses were defeated; plans pushed to make a 352-unit development in the area.

1998  --  led by Scenic Hudson, a coalition of more than 35 groups of homeowners associations, local community groups, governmental organizations, and several national and regional environmental organizations worked in an organization known as the Coalition to Preserve the Hudson Highlands Gateway.  They convinced the developer to sell the property and raised the $6 million for the purchase price.

2000 (May)  --  The Scenic Hudson Land Trust, Inc. purchased 203 acres of the park; the Town of Cortlandt and Westchester County purchased the remaining 149 acres.

(Source: http://www.townofcortlandt.com/Gateway.htm)

Hillpoint Property, Town of Cortlandt, 352.0 acres

at the Westchester County/Putnam County line along Rt 9; the Town of Cortlandtís Sprout Brook Park is, adjacent to the propertyís eastern edge.

The owner of the property had planned to create a residential development by constructing 352 homes on the parcel.

Jointly owned by the Scenic Hudson Land Trust, the Town of Cortlandt and Westchester County, the land consists of mature forests and freshwater wetlands.

Passive recreation and trails. Managed by the Town of Cortlandt. This purchase creates the potential for development of a greenway corridor stretching from the City of Peekskill train station to the Gateway property, and on to the Appalachian Trail, Hudson Highlands and Fahnestock State Parks.

Governor Pataki Announces $1.1 Million For Hillpoint Property On Rt. 9 in Cortlandt; May 24, 2000 Front Page; http://www.pcnr.com/news/2000/0524/Front_Page/may24Front_Page5670.html


Trails:

From the rough map it looks like you can hook up with the blue trail to make a loop hike (using part of the red trail for the southwest section).  This can be extended by adding a loop hike on the white trail in the northwest section (making a rough figure 8).  Off of the blue trail, you can take the yellow trail to and back from wetlands in the northeast section.  A circular red trail is found off the blue trail in the southwest section.  But see the New York/New Jersey Trail Conference website for better trail descriptions.

7/24/03 Last hike before we have to put almost 17 year-old, Jack Russell "Snuffy" to sleep. With skin and lung cancer, blindness, deafness and disorientation, the time has finally come. It will be strange to be hiking without him. Let's hope there's a dog heaven for him as a reward for his loyal and cheerful performance as a valuable human assistant.

Go through a gap in the guard rail by the nearby kiosk; pick up the blue trail; go up hill through field to a T intersection, I turned left to the red trail; if you turn around and look southeast you can see an enormous digging area on the nearby hill; come to the red and blue trail junction; I go straight on the red trail; pond and swampy area; come to fence by pond bear right; hear traffic on Route 9; up onto cliff top; nice view looking south east over pond; descending to Annsville Creek on left and nearby Rt 9; creek very shaded; small elevated dam; come out at field by Route 9; monarch butterfly flying around; junction of blue and red trails going together back to the blue trail starting point; wood turtle heading down the tail; descend back to the blue trail.

Decide to walk up the blue trail to the overlook. Come to a T-intersection; I go left to the overlook; see Jans Peek Bridge over Annsville Creek, electric plant, and Indian River nuclear plant.


PLANT LIST:
Dr. Patrick L. Cooney
* = plants found in bloom 7/24/03


Trees:
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Amelanchier arborea (shadbush)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Betula populifolia (gray birch)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
Carya tomentosa (mockernut hickory)
Castanea dentata (American chestnut)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Morus alba (white mulberry)
Picea abies (Norway spruce)
Pinus rigida (pitch pine)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Pinus sylvestris (Scotch pine)
Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Populus deltoides (cottonwood)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Pyrus sp. (crab apple)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Tilia americana (American basswood)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)
Ulmus americana (American elm)

Shrubs:
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Chimaphila maculata (striped wintergreen) *
Clethra alnifolia (sweet pepper bush)
Cornus amomum (swamp dogwood)
Decodon verticillatus (yellow loosestrife)
Elaeagnus umbellata (autumn olive)
Gaylussacia baccata (black huckleberry)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle)
Mitchella repens (partridgeberry)
Myrica pensylvanica (bayberry)
Rhus glabra (smooth sumac)
Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)
Salix sp. (willow)
Sambucus canadensis (common elderberry)
Spiraea sp. (meadowsweet or steeplebush) *
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry)
Vaccinium pallidum (hillside blueberry)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburnum)
Viburnum prunifolium (blackhaw viburnum)
Vinca minor (periwinkle)

Vines:
Amphicarpaea bracteata (hog peanut)
Calystegia sepium (hedge bindweed)
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Cuscuta sp. (dodder) lots on the Decodon
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Smilax rotundifolia (round-leaved greenbrier)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis aestivalis (summer grape)
Vitis labrusca (fox grape)

Herbs:
Achillea millefolium (common yarrow) *
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) *
Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)
Antennaria sp. (pussytoes)
Apocynum cannabinum (Indian hemp) * soon
Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla)
Arisaema triphyllum (Jack in the pulpit)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)
Bidens sp. (beggar tick)
Boehmeria cylindrica (false nettle)
Cardamine impatiens (narrow-leaved bittercress)?
Chamaecrista sp. (partridge pea) ?
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum (ox-eye daisy) *
Cichorium intybus (chicory) *
Coronilla varia (crown vetch) *
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace) *
Dianthus armeria (Deptford pink) *
Erigeron annuus (common daisy fleabane) *
Eupatorium perfoliatum (boneset)
Galium aparine (cleavers)
Galium circaezens (wild licorice)
Galium mollugo (wild madder) *
Geranium maculatum (wild geranium)
Geum canadense (white avens)
Gnaphalium sp. (cudweed) ?
Hesperis matronalis (dame's rocket)
Hieracium venosum (rattlesnake hawkweed)
Hypericum perforatum (common St. Johns wort) *
Impatiens capensis (jewelweed)
Iris sp. (blue or yellow flag)
Laportea canadensis (wood nettle)
Lepidium virginicum (poor man's pepper) *
Lotus corniculatus (birdfoot trefoil) *
Ludwigia palustris (marsh purslane)
Lycopus sp. (water horehound)
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower)
Melilotus alba (white sweet clover) *
Monotropa uniflora (Indian pipe)
Oxalis sp. (yellow wood sorrel) *
Paronychia canadensis (forked chickweed)
Pilea pumila (clearweed)
Plantago lanceolata (English plantain) *
Plantago major (common plantain)
Polygonum arifolium (halberd-leaved tearthumb)
Polygonum cespitosum (cespitose smartweed) *
Polygonum virginianum (jumpseed)
Potentilla recta (rough-fruited cinquefoil) *
Potentilla canadensis (dwarf cinquefoil)
Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil)
Prunella vulgaris (self-heal) *
Pycnanthemum tenuifolium (narrow-leaved mountain mint) *
Pycnanthemum virginianum (Virginia mountain mint) * wanting
Rudbeckia pulcherrima var. pulcherrima (black-eyed Susan) *
Rumex obtusifolius (broad dock)
Satureja vulgaris (wild basil) *
Silene vulgaris (bladder campion) *
Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage)
Tephrosia virginiana (goat's rue)
Trifolium aureum (yellow clover) *
Trifolium pratense (red clover) *
Trifolium repens (white clover) *
Triodanis perfoliata (Venus looking glass)
Verbascum blattaria (moth mullein) *
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein) *
Verbena urticifolia (white vervain) *
Veronica officinalis (common speedwell)
Viola sp. (violet)

Rushes:
Juncus tenuis (path rush)

Sedges:
Carex crinita (sedge)
Carex latifolia type (loose-flowered sedge type)
Carex lurida (sedge)
Carex ovales (sedge)
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)
Carex sp. (fat garlic-looking sedge type)
Carex stricta (tussock sedge)
Scirpus atrovirens (dark-green bulrush)

Ferns:
Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)
Equisetum hyemale (scouring rush)
Lycopodium digitatum (southern ground cedar)
Lycopodium obscurum (ground pine clubmoss)
Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern)
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Dryopteris marginalis (marginal woodfern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Osmunda regalis (royal fern)
Polypodium sp. (rock cap fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Pteridium aquilinum (bracken fern)
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)

Grasses:
Anthoxanthum odoratum (sweet vernal grass)
Brachyelytrum erectum (long-awned wood grass)
Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Danthonia spicata (poverty grass)
Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass)
Panicum clandestinum (deer-tongue grass)
Phalaris arundinacea (reed canary grass)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
Tridens flavus (purple top grass)