Briarcliff-Peekskill Trailway
Westchester County, NY


Directions:

The trail runs through Teatown Lake Reservation, Croton Gorge, and Blue Mountain and there is parking in these areas.

Southern end: Ryder Road in Ossining; just east of the NY 9A overpass. Take Route 9A north; get off at the exit for Route 133 (Somerstown); turn left at the stop sign onto Somerstown Road; turn right onto Camp Woods Road (which turns into Ryder Road); park on the left side of the road at the overpass over Route 9A. The trail starts at the eastern edge of the overpass concrete wall, very hidden from view.

Northern end: Lounsbury Pond in the Blue Mountain Reservation.


History:

This trailway was obtained in the 1920s. It was supposed to be made into a parkway that would extend NY 9A from Briarcliff to Peekskill.

The Briarcliff-Peekskill Parkway, which runs from the Saw Mill River Parkway and NY 100 in Hawthorne to US 9 in Ossining, was designed by the Westchester County Parks Commission to relieve traffic on Albany Post Road (US 9).  The parkway was constructed by the New York State Department of Public Works (NYSDPW).

Between 1929 and 1957  --   it was proposed that the Briarcliff-Peekskill parkway was to be continued directly north from Ryder Road in Ossining through the Teatown Lake Reservation and Croton Dam Plaza. At Croton Dam Plaza, the parkway was to continue northwest through Blue Mountain Reservation to the city of Peekskill.

The Westchester County Parks Department still owns the right-of-way for the unbuilt section of parkway just north of Ryder Road in Ossining, where it makes a sharp turn west toward US 9. This original route through Teatown Lake Reservation and Croton Dam Plaza later became part of the "Briarcliff-Peekskill Trailway."

The present trailway was built in the 1970s.

1993  --  the parkway opened.

(Source: The Roads of Metro New York: Briarcliff-Peekskill Parkway: Historic Overview
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Habitats:

"Constriction point: Blue Mountain to Salt Hill. Part of the connecting corridor between Blue Mountain Reservation and the Salt Hill/Colabaugh Pond area has been protected by the County Parks Department as the Briarcliff-Peekskill Trailway (which connects through the Salt Hill area and all the way through Teatown Lake Reservation). Such efforts to connect larger preserved areas are commendable and can be highly beneficial to wildlife. We recommend widening the trailway, where feasible, so that it can better facilitate wildlife dispersal among biodiversity hubs. Unfortunately, Watch Hill Road and Furnace Dock Road act as barriers to many species of wildlife. Solutions should be sought to lessen these road-associated impacts."

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


Trails:

12 mile long hiking trail (blazed with leaf-green diamonds) running from Route 9A in Ossining to Blue Mountain Reservation in Peekskill, with splendid views of the Hudson River from the top of Spitzenberg Mountain.

From North to South:
Lounsbury Pond (in Blue Mountain Reservation)
Watch Hill Road
crosses Furnace Dock Road (just east of the house at #312 Furnace Dock Road)
Colabaugh Pond Road (1.1 miles north of position listed below)
corner of Mount Airy Road East and Colabaugh Pond Road
intersection of Mount Airy Road East and NY 129
Croton Dam Road
crosses the Croton River below the dam
Croton Gorge Park
Croton Dam Road (for half a mile)
Blinn Road (crosses the road)
west side of Teatown Lake
Spring Valley Road
NY 134
Grace Lane
Ryder Road in Ossining; just east of the NY 9A overpass

Briarcliff-Peekskill Trailway (No bicycles)

This trail is very poorly blazed and parts of it are actually blocked with huge thickets of sticker bushes like multiflora rose and wineberry. 

A 12-mile linear park linking several recreational facilities from Blue Mountain Reservation in Peekskill, south to the Maryknoll Seminary in Ossining. (Walking and hiking only.)
The Briarcliff Peekskill Trailway is a 12 mile linear park which runs north from the Town of Ossining to the County's Blue Mountain Reservation in Peekskill. The Trailway is built on a portion of land originally acquired in 1929 by the Westchester County Parkway Commission. In 1977, the remaining right of way was redesignated a trailway.

9/12/03.  Hiked from Grace Lane to Ryder Road and back to Grace Lane.  Or rather I had to cut my way through to Ryder Road as the northern part of the trail was quite overgrown (that is, before I snipped my way through the tangles of  multiflora rose and Asiatic bittersweet).  Toward the southern part of this section the trailway goes parallel with the stream in some places and in other places parallel with Route 9A. (Part of the way you can hear the barking of the dogs from the Grace Lane Kennels. 

9/14/03.  Hiked from Grace Lane to Croton Dam Road and then on to the western end of the lake at Teatown and back to Grace Lane.  There was a fallen ash tree by the Grace Lane dog kennels that I had to clear a hole through, but otherwise the trail was not that bad as far as maintenance was concerned (not good, but not that bad). The section from Croton Dam Road to Teatown is much rockier than the section south of Grace Lane. It is much woodsier also.  Moreover, there is some swampy area with some trail sections a bit muddy. 

9/16/03.  Could not find any sign of the trail at the intersection of Mount Airy Road East and NY 129.  Traveled farther north to the corner of Mount Airy Road East and Colabaugh Pond Road. But here the path just goes a short ways to the house at #12 Colabaugh Pond Road.  So I returned to the car and then went farther north and parked on the right side of the road just before the house at #132 Colabaugh Pond Road.  A sign points left down Colabaugh Pond Road indicating that the Briarcliff-Peekskill Trailway is 3/10 of a mile down (mighty confusing to say the least).  Walked from Colabaugh Pond Road to Furnace Dock Road.  It is a short walk of less than a half hour crossing a stream and going through woods and past nice rock cliffs.  The northern part of this section is too close to suburbia for my tastes.  Then walked part of the ways north to Watch Hill Road.  Here there is a nice boardwalk/bridge over a wet area with a hell of a lot of sensitive fern.  Close to the northern end of the boardwalk they are constructing a new house (just great!). Reached the area with the sign for a Transcontinental Cable.  Here the trail turns right.  Turned around and came back. 

9/17/03.  Trip to walk the Briarcliff-Peekskill Trailway from Watch Hill Road to Montrose Station Road.  Parked just outside the gate at the Sportsmen Center Practice Range (1.0 miles up Watch Hill Road from Washington Street) in the Blue Mountain Reservation.  Walked up the sportsman center road and then turned left onto the parking lot and went to its end by the chain fence.  Picked up the green diamond trail markers here (along with orange rectangles for another trail).  The trail does a little switchback number to come up to Spitzenberg Mountain (off the trail to the left).  (It strikes me as funny that I never made it to this mountain before, although I had tried several times from the parking area at Blue Mountain Reservation.  It is located very close to the Sportsmen Center Practice Range.)  There are great views from here looking west across the areas of south Peekskill and across the Hudson River to the area south of West Haverstraw.  Continued back along the green diamond trail to a fork in the path where the blue trail comes in from the northwest.  Now all three trails go right (northeast) and I follow the trail to Montrose Station Road (a gravel road in about the middle of the reservation).  Crossed the road and went through the power cut for the gas line and went back into the woods.  Followed the trail to a T-intersection where the red trail comes in from the right (east).  The blue-blazed and green diamond trails go right (west).  Turned around and went back to the parking area.  (Found the place where the Briarcliff-Peekskill Trailway comes up from Furnace Dock Road to Watch Hill Road.  It is about one-hundred yards east of the Sportsmen Center entrance and across the street.) 

4/16/04.  Did some trail maintenance.  That multiflora rose is really a fast grower and I had to do a lot of re-cutting on the trail.  But it certainly was easier to get through than when I first walked this trail. 


PLANT LIST:
Dr. Patrick L. Cooney
dates = dates of field trips when plants found in bloom


Trees:
Acer pensylvanica (striped maple)
Acer platanoides (Norway maple)
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Carya cordiformis (bitternut hickory)
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
Carya tomentosa (mockernut hickory)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Juglans nigra (black walnut)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Nyssa sylvatica (tupelo)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Populus grandidentata (bigtoothed aspen)
Pyrus sp. (crab apple)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)
Ulmus americana (American elm)

Shrubs:
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Chimaphila maculata (striped wintergreen)
Clethra alnifolia (sweet pepper bush)
Cornus racemosa (gray stem dogwood)
Euonymus alatus (winged euonymus)
Forsythia sp. (golden bells) planted 4/16/04
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Ilex verticillata (winterberry holly)
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)
Ligustrum sp. (privet)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush) 4/16/04
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle)
Lyonia ligustrina (maleberry)
Mitchella repens (partridgeberry)
Pachysandra terminalis (pachysandra)
Rhodotypos scandens (jetbead) quite a bit in one spot
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry)
Staphylea trifolia (bladdernut)
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry)
Vaccinium pallidum (hillside blueberry)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburnum)
Viburnum dentatum (arrowwood)
Viburnum prunifolium (blackhaw viburnum)
Vinca minor (periwinkle)

Vines:
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Polygonum scandens (climbing false buckwheat)
Smilax rotundifolia (round-leaved greenbrier)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis labrusca (fox grape)
Vitis sp. (grape)

Herbs:
Aegopodium podagraria (gout weed)
Agrimonia sp. (agrimony)  9/12/03
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Allium tricoccum (wild leek)
Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)
Amphicarpaea bracteata (hog peanut)
Antennaria sp. (pussytoes)
Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla)
Arisaema triphyllum (Jack-in-the-pulpit)
Aster divaricatus (white wood aster)  9/12/03
Aster linariifolius (stiff aster) 9/17/03
Boehmeria cylindrica (false nettle)
Chenopodium album (pigweed)
Cichorium intybus (chicory)  9/12/03 9/17/03
Circaea lutetiana (enchanter's nightshade)  9/12/03
Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle)
Collinsonia canadensis (horsebalm)
Conyza canadensis (horseweed)
Duchesnea indica (Indian strawberry)
Epifagus virginicus (beech drops)
Erechtites hieraciifolia (pileweed)  9/12/03
Erigeron annuus (common daisy fleabane)  9/12/03
Erythronium americanum (trout lily) 
Eupatorium rugosum (white snakeroot) 9/12/03
Euthamia graminifolia (grass-leaved goldenrod) 9/17/03
Geranium maculatum (wild geranium)
Geum canadense (white avens)
Glechoma hederacea (gill-over-the-ground)
Gnaphalium obtusifolium (sweet everlasting)  9/17/03
Hackelia virginiana (Virginia stickseed)
Hedeoma pulegioides (American pennyroyal)
Hieracium paniculatum (panicled hawkweed) 9/17/03
Impatiens capensis (orange jewelweed)  9/12/03
Lapsana communis (nipplewort) 9/12/03
Lepidium virginicum (poor man's pepper)
Lespedeza sp. (bush clover)
Lobelia inflata (Indian tobacco)
Monotropa uniflora (Indian pipe)
Narcissus sp. (daffodil) 4/16/04 9/12/03
Oxalis sp. (yellow wood sorrel) 9/12/03
Paronychia canadensis (forked chickweed)
Phytolacca americana (pokeweed)
Pilea pumila (clearweed)
Polygonum arifolium (halberd-leaved tearthumb)
Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)
Polygonum sp. (hydropiper?) (water pepper?) 9/12/03
Polygonum sagittatum (arrow-leaved tearthumb) 9/12/03
Polygonum virginianum (jumpseed)
Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil)
Prunella vulgaris (self-heal)
Saponaria officinalis (bouncing bet)  9/16/03
Satureja vulgaris (wild basil)
Scilla sp. (squill)  4/16/04
Sedum sarmentosum (stonecrop)
Smilacina racemosa (false Solomon's seal)
Solidago rugosa (rough-leaved goldenrod) 9/12/03 9/17/03
Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage)
Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion) 9/17/03
Trifolium pratense (red clover) 9/12/03 9/17/03
Tussilago farfara (coltsfoot)
Verbena urticifolia (white vervain)
Veronica officinalis (common speedwell)
Viola palmata (palmate-leaved violet)

Rushes:
Juncus effusus (soft rush)
Juncus tenuis (path rush)

Sedges:
Carex crinita (sedge)
Carex laxiflora type (loose flowered sedge type)
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)
Carex stricta (tussock sedge)
Cyperus sp. (nut or umbrella sedge)

Grasses:
Cinna arundinacea (wood reedgrass)
Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Digitaria sp. (crab grass)
Elymus hystrix (bottlebrush grass)
Leersia virginica (white grass)
Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass)
Panicum clandestinum (deer-tongue grass)
Phleum pratense (timothy grass)
Phragmites australis (giant reedgrass)
Poa compressa (Canada bluegrass)
Schizachyrium scoparium (little blue stem grass)
Setaria faberi (nodding foxtail grass)
Setaria glauca (yellow foxtail grass)
Tridens flavus (purple top grass)

Ferns:
Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)
Adiantum pedatum (maidenhair fern)
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. (rockcap fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)