Welcher Avenue, Peekskill, Cortlandt, Westchester County, NY
1,583  acres


0 Hastings on Hudson; 3.0 Lawrence; 3.5 Dobbs exit 17; 5.9 Rt. 287 exit 20; 7.1 Rt. 119 21E and W; 9.3 Eastview exit 23; 10.5 Hawthorne; 11.0 nursery, not Rosedale; 13.0 pass Rt. 117; 15.0 Squires restaurant, North State Road; 16.0 Chappaqua Road; 16.7 Rt. 133; 18.0 Rt. 134; 19.0 Ossining; 19.5 Rt. 9; 20.0 Croton Pt. Avenue; 21.0 Rt. 129; 21.5 Senasqua; 23.4 Montrose; 26.5 Welcher Avenue; 27.1 entrance.


The town of Peekskill is on the north side of what is known as the Cortlandt igneous complex. This is an oval area about ten miles from east to west and five miles from north to south. This complex is a series of funnel-shaped igneous bodies. They are of a wide range of dark colors, some of which are rare.

There is a definite reason for the wide range of colors and rocks. During the late stages of the Taconian mountain-building period, the Cortlandt igneous complex was formed by multiple intrusions of molten rock, magma. Each magma intrusion affected earlier ones causing in a very intermingled result. (Source: Van Diver 1985.)

The Blue Mountain Reservation contains some 1,586 acres of rolling glaciated woodland.  In some places the boulders dropped by the great glacier are numerous, creating intriguing geological features. Blue Mountain, for which the reservation is named, reaches an elevation of 665 feet. When weather conditions are right, the mountain provides a good vantage point from which to watch the fall hawk migration.

The bedrock of Stony Point and Blue Mountain is the late Ordovician Cortlandt igneous complex.  Near Peekskill and adjacent to the Hudson Highlands, the rocks here were intruded by the Ordovician (435 mya) Cortlandt and Croton Falls complexes and the Devonian (350 mya) Peekskill granite.  Formed by multiple intrusions of molten rock, magma, this igneous complex (an oval area roughly 10 miles from east to west and 5 miles from north to south) is a unique geologic feature consisting of several intrusive bodies that contain a wide range of dark rocks, some quite rare.  Each intrusion invaded the earlier ones so that locally the various rock types are intimately intermingled.  In Peekskill there was a commercial collection of  the emery deposits, the only commercial emery deposits in the United States.  (Info from Van Diver 1992: 65, 79, 84)


The park was acquired in 1927. The property was originally part of Van Cortlandt Manor purchased by Stephanus Van Cortlandt in 1677 from the Indians.

The owners of the areas was the Loundsbury family. The Loundsburys had a general contracting, sand, gravel, cement, brick and ice company. New Pond and Loundsbury Pond were constructed by the Loundsbury family for making ice. The former gravel pit is where the present-day beach parking lot is located.

The Loundsbury family sold their land to Westchester County in the 1920s.

The name was assigned by the Park Commission. A Civilian Conservation Corps camp during the Roosevelt administration was here.

On the reservation are two ponds, created originally as part of a family-owned ice business before the advent of refrigeration. Huge chunks of ice were cut from the lake during the winter, then stored in sawdust and sold in the summer months.

Last time I was there, part of the trails were closed because of  the lead contained in the bullets used on the Sportsman Center Shooting Range (open weekends and holidays). Large bore, Small bore, Pistol, Trap & Skeet, and Archery ranges are available.


There are several mountains, the Spitzenberg and the other Pleasant or Pleasantside Mountain and Hunts Mountain.

The mixed hardwood forest is basically oak, hickory, tulip, sassafras, and dogwood, with some sugar maple, birch, and beech.  Ponds.  


Mountain Biking, playground, picnicking, hiking/walking, ice skating, camping, fishing, cross-country skiing, nature study, handicapped accessibility to parking and rest rooms, horse trails.   Car w/ resident permit $ 3.50; car w/o resident permit $7.00; car weekday seniors $1.75; buses $27.50; mini buses $6.50.


Blue Mountain Reservation and vicinity.  "The size of this reservation, and the fact that it contains an assemblage of species that indicate high-quality habitat in the northern suburbs, make it a significant biodiversity hub.  Amphibians and reptiles observed here include spotted salamanders, marbled salamanders, red-spotted newts, gray tree frogs, wood frogs, and black rat snakes. A host of forest birds depend on these habitats, including barred owls, pileated woodpeckers, wood thrushes, ovenbirds, and Louisiana waterthrushes, among others."

Source: Croton to Highlands Biodiversity Plan; or


There are some 16 miles of hiking and bridle trails looping through the park.


The first trail in Westchester County designated primarily for mountain biking. The trails total 7 miles in distance within the beautiful 1,600 acre park and are geared toward three levels of skill. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the trail at any time.

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 across the street.) 


Dr. Patrick Louis Cooney

Acer palmatum (Japanese maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple) lots
Acer pensylvanicum (striped maple)
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Ailanthus altissima (tree-of-heaven)
Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Betula populifolia (gray birch)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Carya cordiformis (bitternut hickory)
Carya glabra (pignut hickory)
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
Carya tomentosa (mockernut hickory)
Castanea dentata (American chestnut)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood) 5/11/93
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Nyssa sylvatica (tupelo)
Ostrya virginiana (eastern hop hornbeam) shaggy bark
Paulownia tomentosa (empress tree)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Populus grandidentata (big-toothed aspen)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Pyrus malus (apple tree)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)
Salix alba (white willow)
Salix sp. (willow)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Tilia americana (American basswood)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock) not looking too good
Ulmus americana (American elm)

Alnus serrulata (smooth alder)
Aronia arbutifolia (red chokeberry) 5/11/93
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Chimaphila maculata (striped wintergreen)
Clethra alnifolia (sweet pepperbush)
Cornus amomum (silky dogwood) 6/7/94
Cornus kousa (kousa dogwood) prob. planted
Euonymus alatus (winged euonymus) 5/11/93
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel) 6/6/94 only a few in bloom
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle) 5/11/93
Mitchella repens (partridgeberry)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Rubus flagellaris (northern dewberry)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry)
Salix discolor (pussy willow)
Staphylea trifolia (bladdernut) 5/11/93
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburnum)
Viburnum prunifolium (blackhaw viburnum) 5/11/93
Vinca minor (periwinkle)

Akebia quinata (akebia) lots of it by the soccer field
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Euonymus fortunii (Fortune's euonymus)
Humulus japonicus (Japanese hops) 9/11/02
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Polygonum scandens (climbing false buckwheat) 9/11/02
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vinca minor (periwinkle)
Vitis sp. (grape)
Wisteria sp. (wisteria) 13 leaflets

Achillea millefolium (yarrow)
Actaea alba (white baneberry)
Aethusa cynapium (fool's parsley) 9/11/02
Agrimonia sp. (agrimony)
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) 5/11/93
Allium vineale (field garlic)
Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)
Amphicarpaea bracteata (hog peanut) 9/11/02
Anagallis arvensis (scarlet pimpernel) 9/11/02
Anemonella thalictroides (rue anemone) 5/11/93
Antennaria sp. (pussytoes)
Apocynum cannabinum (Indian hemp dogbane)
Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla)
Arctium minus (common burdock)
Arisaema triphyllum (Jack-in-the-pulpit)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Aster divaricatus (white wood aster) 9/11/02 9/17/03
Aster linariifolius (stiff aster) 9/17/03
Bidens cernuua (nodding bur marigold)? 9/11/02 soon
Bidens comosa (strawstem beggar ticks) 9/11/02 soon
Boehmeria cylindrica (false nettle)
Chenopodium album (pigweed)
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum (ox-eye daisy) 6/8/94
Cichorium intybus (chicory) 9/11/02 9/17/03
Cimicifuga racemosa (American bugbane)
Circaea lutetiana (enchanter's nightshade)
Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle)
Cirsium vulgare (bull thistle) 9/11/02
Collinsonia canadensis (horsebalm?)
Conyza canadensis (horseweed) 9/11/02 9/17/03
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace)
Dianthus armeria (Deptford pink) 9/11/02
Duchesnea indica (Indian strawberry)
Erechtites hieraciifolia (pilewort) 9/11/02
Erigeron annuus (daisy fleabane) 6/7/94
Euphorbia cyparissias (cypress spurge)
Euphorbia maculata (spotted spurge)
Euthamia graminifolia (grass-leaved goldenrod) 9/17/03
Galium mollugo (wild madder) 6/7/94
Galium sp. (bedstraw)
Geranium maculatum (wild geranium) 5/11/93
Geum canadense (white avens) 5/11/93
Glechoma hederacea (gill-over-the-ground)
Gnaphalium obtusifolium (sweet everlasting) 9/11/02 9/17/03
Hackelia virginiana (Virginia stickseed)
Hedeoma pulegioides (American pennyroyal)
Hieracium caespitosum (field hawkweed) 6/7/94
Hieracium paniculatum (panicled hawkweed) 9/11/02 9/17/03
Hypericum mutilum (dwarf St. Johnswort) 9/11/02
Hypericum sp. (spotted St. Johnswort)?
Impatiens capensis (orange jewelweed)
Lepidium virginicum (poor man's pepper)
Linaria vulgaris (butter-and-eggs) 9/11/02
Lobelia inflata (Indian tobacco lobelia) 9/11/02
Lotus corniculatus (birdfoot trefoil) 6/8/94
Ludwigia palustris (water purslane)
Lycopus virginicus (Virginia bugleweed) 9/11/02
Lysimachia nummularia (moneywort)
Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife) 9/11/02
Mazus pumilis (mazus) 9/11/02
Medicago lupulina (black medick) 9/11/02
Melilotus alba (white sweet clover) 9/11/02
Osmorhiza claytoniana (sweet cicely)
Oxalis stricta (yellow wood sorrel) 9/11/02
Paronychia canadensis (forked chickweed)
Peltandra virginica (arrow arum)
Pilea pumila (clearweed)
Plantago lanceolata (English plantain) 9/11/02
Plantago major (common plantain) 9/11/02
Polygala verticillata (whorled milkwort) 9/11/02
Polygonum arifolium (halberd-leaved tearthumb)
Polygonum cespitosum (cespitose smartweed) 9/11/02 9/17/03
Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)
Polygonum hydropiperoides (water pepper) 9/11/02
Polygonum lapathifolium (nodding smartweed)
Polygonum sagittatum (arrow-leaved tearthumb) 9/11/02
Polygonum virginianum (jumpseed)
Potamogeton sp. (pondweed)
Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil) 6/6/94
Prunella vulgaris (self-heal) 9/11/02
Ranunculus abortivus (kidney-leaf buttercup) 5/11/93
Rumex acetosella (sheep sorrel)
Rumex obtusifolius (broad-leaved dock)
Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot)
Sedum sarmentosum (stonecrop)
Silene vulgaris (bladder campion) 6/08/94
Sisyrinchium angustifolium (blue-eyed grass) 6/7/94
Solidago bicolor (silverrod) 9/11/02 soon
Solidago caesia (blue-stem goldenrod) 9/11/02 soon
Solidago rugosa (rough-leaved goldenrod) 9/17/03
Spirodela polyrhiza (spirodela)
Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage)
Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion) 9/17/03
Trifolium pratense (red clover) 6/7/94 9/11/02 9/17/03
Trifolium sp. (hop clover) 6/7/94
Tussilago farfara (coltsfoot)
Veratrum viride (swamp hellebore) 6/6/94
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)
Verbena urticifolia (white vervain)
Veronica officinalis (common speedwell)
Veronica serpyllifolia (thyme-leaved speedwell) 9/11/02
Viola palmata (palmate-leaved violet)
Viola sororia (common blue violet) 5/11/93
chickweed sp.

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

Carex laxiflora type (loose-flowered type sedge)
Carex lurida (sallow sedge)
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)
Cyperus sp. (nut or umbrella sedge)
Scirpus atrovirens (dark-green bulrush)

Anthoxanthum odoratum (sweet vernal grass)
Cinna arundinacea (wood reedgrass)
Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Danthonia spicata (poverty grass)
Digitaria ischaemum (smooth crabgrass)
Echinochloa crus-galli (barnyard grass)
Leersia virginica (white grass)
Lolium perenne (English perennial rye) on ball field
Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass)
Muhlenbergia sobolifera (muhly grass)
Panicum clandestinum (deer-tongue grass)
Phleum pratense (Timothy grass)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
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 and Fern Allies:
Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)
Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern)
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Dryopteris marginalis (marginal woodfern)
Elymus hystrix (bottlebrush grass)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Osmunda regalis (royal fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)

June 11, 1933

A party of five slowly wended their way up the broad path to Mt. Spitzenberg of the Blue Mountain Reservation this hot but breezy day. The view looking south from the top takes in on a clear day the spires of New York City, the Ramapos, and a good deal of eastern Westchester.

Growing on the rocks was an interesting find: Helianthemum canadense, the frostweed. The blossoms seem very fragile. Also one plant of Potentilla argentea. Blueberry bushes were heavily laden with unripe fruit. The leader was unsuccessful in finding a plant of Corydalis sempervirens which he had noticed here two years ago.

By the aid of field glasses, we inspected the estate of Mr. Crosby Gaige where we later were to inspect the collection of rock garden plants.

The path back to Washington Street sported one bush of Diervilla lonicera in flower. Two or three specimens of Asclepias quadrifolia were also in bloom. The five to six foot, wand-like racemes of Cimicifuga racemosa were much in evidence and just beginning to bloom. On a side path we found a few plants of Penstemon laevigatus. Several clumps of Ceanothus americanus were almost in bloom. In a little brook which trickled under a corduroy bridge was one plant of Veronica americana. One Anemonella thalictroides was making a last stand.

Other plants noticed in full bloom were:

Achillea millefolium
Apocynum cannabinum
Apocynum androsaemifolium
beginning to open their buds were;
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum
Cornus paniculata
Dianthus armeria
Erigeron annuus
Erigeron pulchellus
Hieracium aurantiacum
Hieracium floribundum
Hypoxis hirsuta
Leonurus cardiaca
Lychnis alba
Lysimachia quadrifolia
Melilotus officinalis
Potentilla canadensis
Rubus odorata
Rudbeckia hirta
Sambucus canadensis
Silene latifolia
Sisyrinchium angustifolium
Solanum dulcamara
Stellaria longifolia
Trifolium agrarium

Leader, George F. Dillman