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  1. #1
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    Ride Report - Old Croton Aqueduct

    Ride on Sunday 11/7, with my 2 Westchester buddies.

    An interesting loop. Partly dirt path, part road, part MUP

    We parked at the southern end of the continuous section of the Westchester County South County Trail at Toussaint Ave. parking is on-street but there was plenty of room for multiple cars and upon return I saw a few additional cars with bike racks parked here as well, so it appears the trail is getting more and more popular. Starbucks to follow !.

    We headed west on Tuckahoe Rd., with a left on Saw Mill River Rd/9A passing south under the Saw Mill Parkway, then a quick right on Nepperhan Ave. then another quick right onto Roberts Ave., which is easy to find as it looks like one of the big walls folks climb in Yosemite. So a 1/2 mile of hellaciously steep uphill (welcome to Yonkers) on Roberts with the idea being to P/U the OCA somewhere in Yonkers on the other side of the hill.

    Easy enough to find the trail at Arthur St., rode south to explore a bit, losing the trail at Lamartine, finding again at Ashburton but desiring to NOT have to go down then up again if possible (did I mention I HATE biking in Yonkers !), we re-traced our steps back to Arthur. All the info I found on-line shows you can continue to follow the OCA south thru Yonkers and into Van Cortland Park, but with Google maps showing the OCA as essentially the same as Yonkers Ave. for some sections, we opted to explore north instead.

    So we headed north, stopping for the views - it was a gorgeous day, mid 40's breezy, with many fallen leaves obscuring the trail surface at times resulting in an occasonal "Bang" as we hit a hidden route or rock. Compounded by inattentiveness as I admired the the fine glimpses of the Palisades across the river. Also stopped for a bit to explore Untermyer Park, then onward.

    Started to encounter more and more pedestrians as we approached Hastings and as the morning warmed, but no bikes at all. The trail surface is single track dirt in most cases, sometimes rocky, occasional roots, but perfectly ridable on my tourer with 28mm tires. Had to do some bunny hoping and the occasional cyclocross off-walk-on routine at the curbs at street crossings, but no big deal. Also had to weave thru the hikers at time, but everybody was accommodating.

    Quickly made Dobbs Ferry and at this point I had finally completed a long wish of riding the OCA from Yonkers to the Croton Dam, having last ridden here with my buddy Dave (one of the riders today) in 1975 on an expedition when we were young and stupid and rode to Croton from when we lived in Ardsley. So onto a trail I was supposed to recognize but of course it's all different. Detoured to check out the famous Octagon House in north Dobbs Ferry, beautifully restored now. Then onward to Irvington.

    Took stock of the time at this point. It had been a slooow ride but exploring goes that way and stomachs were rumbling. One nice thing about the OCA is that is is right in the villages of Hastings, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington, Tarrytown and Ossining, so no shortage of deli's, luncheonettes, etc... but time was pressing so we opted on the detour to the SCT.

    There are a couple of roads that head east but you have to know where to pick up the South County Trail as well as how to get across the NY Thruway and Saw Mill Parkway. One route is Harriman Rd in Irvington, then Cyrus Field Rd. heading up the hill above the Saw Mill River valley, then down Northfield Ave in Dobbs Ferry a left on Ashford Ave. and over the bridge into Ardsley. The SCT access is south under the Thruway near the bus company on Elm St, with a parking lot for folks using the SCT.

    It was then a quick 20 minutes south on the SCT to the cars and an easy 20 mile ride.

    Other options to loop:

    - Continue riding north on the OCA thru Lyndhurst and out onto Rt9. A 1/2 mile south on Rt 9 and a left on East Sunnyside Lane, then another 1/2 mile to a left on Taxter Rd. (don't go right, up Mountain Rd., you dead end on the Saw Mill Parkway) takes you east to Elmsford at Rt 119. A right turn on busy Rt 119 for a short distance (1.2 mile) to the north end of the South County just before Rt 9A in Elmsford. Then 7 miles south to Toussaint.

    - Or continue north on Rt9 - Broadway, crossing over the NY Thruway at the Tappan Zee Bridge and into Tarrytown. This is a crappy section as Rt 9 has no shoulder with cars doing 60, with a fairly busy interchange at I287. Then where ever you want to head east, with one suggestion heading up into south Tarrytown and east on Neperan Rd until you find the Eastview Bike Path at the west end of the Tarrytown Reservoir. Then east on the path on the south side of the reservoir for a mile to the Eastview parking lot for the North County Trail (North side of the road). Then take the NCT south to Warehouse Lane and over to Rty 9A south to the Rt 119 intersection with the SCT across the road.

    - Note that if you desire to ride north of Tarrytown on the OCA, eventually the trail passes thru Rockwood State park, where bikes are not allowed, so a detour is required to follow the OCA up and into Ossining.

    And No, there were no pic's as I discovered at the start that the camera battery had died and being an old fart, totally forgot my phone had an 8 megapixel camera on it !.

    But there is a Google Map link - I hope !.

    http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UT...7fd0&t=rh&z=12

    Have Fun !

    Steve B.
    11/9/2010
    Last edited by Lightingguy; 11-09-10 at 02:17 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Papa Tom's Avatar
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    Nice job, Lighting Guy!

    The way you describe the Old Croton Aqueduct, it sounds like a completely different trail than the one I rode years ago and added to my website. Perhaps I need to get out there again in the spring and see what's changed!
    Papa Tom

    "I just need a rest...and by 'rest' I mean a really long bicycle ride."

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
    Nice job, Lighting Guy!

    The way you describe the Old Croton Aqueduct, it sounds like a completely different trail than the one I rode years ago and added to my website. Perhaps I need to get out there again in the spring and see what's changed!
    Well not really, and you've a good description that adds stuff I wouldn't think about, such as the Dobbs Ferry hill with it's "steps".

    Which brings up some points about the OCA.

    1) It's a non-maintained "trail" that exists only because the aqueduct exists - I.E. it's a well worn path on top of the tunnel, which follows the contours of the terrain as it makes it's way south from Croton to NYC. As such and being a State Park, it gets zero maintenance. Thus you may encounter glass in Yonkers as well as the occasional debris dumped on the trail. As well it's a track, and has been used for 150 years now. The passage of time has added parking lots (such as Tom's description of the lot in Irvington) as well as local roads placed on top of the tunnel, so following the OCA means having a map as well as understanding the construction following the contour, plus understanding that there are going to be gaps. Which is why a road bike/hybrid is a good choice, as there will be road detours.

    2) It's not a bike trail or path, though bikes are allowed. The overwhelming number of users are folks out for a stroll, so Sunday at noon might be busy and require a lot of patience for a cyclist. We saw zero cyclists on this ride, on a nice Sunday. It's certainly not a fast ride, nor should it be. It's as historical and as interesting a trail as you will find in the NYC area. Ton's of interesting side detours along the way, if so desired.

    3) It's ridable on most any bike as there are no real technical obstacles, though a carbon road bike with 23mm tires at 120psi would be a poor choice. Tourers, Cross, Hybrids are good choices, with wide tires, if you plan to use roads as well, though a full suspension mt. bike would really be fun. I knew of a group that would night ride out of mid-town Manhattan on mt/mbikes, on roads all the way to Yonkers, catch the OCA, turn on the lights and hammer to Tarrytown, to catch MetroNorth back to the city.

    4) To loop it with the North and South County Trails is a lot of fun. Do a Google for Ken Roberts Cycling, which will call up some of Kens Hudson River adventures, including some loops he's done similar to mine.

    5) This was a different kind of ride for me as it was a good bit of exploration and I think exploring on a bike and getting lost in the process, is about as much fun as I have cycling. Excepting that hill on Roberts Ave. In Yonkers !.

    SB

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