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NYC: How long to dry Old Putnam / Van Cortlandt Park after rain?

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NYC: How long to dry Old Putnam / Van Cortlandt Park after rain?

Old 06-24-17, 11:11 AM
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UniChris
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NYC: How long to dry Old Putnam / Van Cortlandt Park after rain?

TL;DR answer: ~30 hours after 2 inches of rain ended a dry spell, it was definitely passable but had several puddles that needed to be circumnavigated on foot via stepping stones and timbers, and one carry-your-ride section. Most of the packed dirt was slightly soft but rideable.

While this is hopefully the last pre-paving summer of the Old Putnam trail in Van Cortlandt Park, that mile and half of dirt still stands as a potential obstacle to enjoying the paved length of the South and North County trailways in Westchester.

After a dry week, late Friday and early Saturday morning it rained an inch and three quarters (or at least it did out at JFK, where they track these things)

Assuming the rest of the day is nice, Is trying to get through the Old Putnam mid-morning Sunday unwise?

Not looking for bone dry when it's possible to bypass all the railroad tie sections, just average passable dry when it's possible to ride the more elevated lengths of dirt and walk around a few muddy dips and ruts without getting too wet and muddy to enjoy the rest of the day's ride.

Trying to decide if I just go for it with a round trip starting and ending in the park, take the train to Brewster and ride back so it will have the hotter part of Sunday for drying as well, or plan yet another substitute ride.

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Old 06-24-17, 11:22 AM
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It's very sunny out there now, I believe it's drying quick.
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Old 06-24-17, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by vol View Post
It's very sunny out there now, I believe it's drying quick.
Also dumped an inch of rain this morning, so there will be puddles.
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Old 06-24-17, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Also dumped an inch of rain this morning, so there will be puddles.
Indeed - question is specifically how long it takes after a bit under of two inches of rain before it's passable.

A lot of it is fairly shaded, and bordered by wetland, so probably responds more slowly to sun than elsewhere, and there may be various things going on with water seeping in or out.

On the plus side, it had been dry for most of a week, so could have soaked in some.
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Old 06-24-17, 02:09 PM
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I ride around the park.
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Old 06-24-17, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by wilfried View Post
I ride around the park.
Yes, but not really an option for me - the whole reason I like this ride vs things closer to home is to avoid dealing with traffic at all, and the roads around the park are reportedly quite bad in that regard, especially with the community board refusing to entertain any safety improvements on Broadway.

I'd sooner do something like get some rubber overboots to hike it in and hide them in the woods at the Westchester line for the return trip. Or just go elsewhere on days not long after it's rained, but that's getting old, hence trying to figure out how long it actually takes to dry out.

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Old 06-25-17, 01:25 PM
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That area is always a muddy mess for a good 3 days after a soaking in my opinion
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Old 06-25-17, 03:05 PM
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More than 3, more like a week. After the last few soaking rains, I'd avoid it for a little while.
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Old 06-25-17, 10:10 PM
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Actually a day and half after just under two inches of rain it wasn't bad.

When I was able to ride around the persistent puddle between the Mosholu Parkway train the and the greenway, I started to hope it might be great, but that was more indicative of it having been a dry week before the rain.

The Old Put itself was slightly softer in the packed portions; main difference was that there were a a few puddles in the usual muddy spots that had to be bypassed on foot, in one case to a degree where people were carrying bikes. The worst had some 2-3 inch cut branches in them to stand on, or in another case some timbers or old ties. Alas, I tried to ride around one that I should not have, and when I jumped off at the last minute the unicycle tipped sideways, embedding the saddle in muck. That cost me half a water bottle to clean up, fortunately it dried fast...

Returning through the old Put would have been fine, but I'd set out two hours later than planned, so started to think of alternate ideas. The first was to go up to Millwood then retrace to Pleasantville and take the train from there. But after the bridge over the beautiful reservoir I figured I'd go "just a bit further" and then that became Yorktown Heights and a pit stop, and finally after checking Metro North schedules I just decided to go for broke.

So in the end I rode to Brewster.

Have to do some map math and figure out the actual distance from Mosholu to where they'd blocked the path for construction at Putnam Ave.... I suspect it might be a couple miles short. Might have to do it again starting from the 5 train to pick up a few more in the city for a nice round number.

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Old 07-08-17, 10:00 AM
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Another two inches of rain Friday. Based on experience last time, that would leave the trail "portageable" on Sunday, but not nice.

And I'd been thinking it was time to step up distance a little by doing a round trip to the Kitchawan Bridge or Yorktown rather than just ride to Brewster and take the train home again.

Problem is I get up to the bridge and start thinking about all the minor annoyances on the return south - the road gaps, older rough pavement on the NCT and older stretches of SCT - and now Van Cortlandt mud - vs the scenery and smooth new pavement of the Putnam Trailway waiting to the north...
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Old 07-08-17, 10:17 AM
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Train up to Wassaic (last stop on Harlem line) and ride the paved Duchess Rail Trail. 9.5 to Millerton, then a beautiful if slightly hilly 9 mile road section, then another 8 miles of trail to Copake Falls.

You will not be disappointed.
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Old 07-09-17, 09:58 PM
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Did my first Metric Century to Yorktown Heights and back.
By the time I got back Old Put was way too dark for the lights I brought.
Only came home wearing about half of those YO-1 wetlands.
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Old 07-10-17, 09:48 AM
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sounds like a nice trail! rainy spring for sure. Vermont has had a terrible time this mud season
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Old 07-10-17, 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
sounds like a nice trail!
If it were on its own as a destination where people went prepared for the mud, sure.

Problem is it's a mile and half oddity that often functions as a barrier keeping NYC residents off the 47 miles of paved rail trail northwards through Westchester and beyond.

After a dry week, riding the path through the trees at dusk can indeed be fun. But when you're beyond dead from your longest ride ever, didn't bring bright enough lights because you though you'd be back earlier, and it's the last obstacle to the train home - not so much. Or when a ride looked forward to for a week has to be cancelled, not because it is raining, but because it rained yesterday.
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Old 07-11-17, 06:19 AM
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anybody bushwhack a single track to bypass the ponding?
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Old 07-11-17, 06:54 AM
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
didn't bring bright enough lights because you though you'd be back earlier
oh man, been there, done that, not fun
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Old 07-11-17, 12:53 PM
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The City plans to pave this, AFAIK.

Just curious as to are their other trails/paths in VCP that head thru the park, are bike accessible and get you into Yonkers. Google Maps shows assorted paths and I assume they are pedestrian/horses only, but you never know.
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Old 07-12-17, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Just curious as to are their other trails/paths in VCP that head thru the park, are bike accessible and get you into Yonkers.
There's another branch of the Old Put itself that goes to Getty Square, I think the VCP part is probably in even worse shape, though once again Westchester is leading they way as either they or Yonkers have now decided to build the portion outside of NYC.

There may be a bit of the Old Croton Aqueduct trail somewhere in the park, but not sure that would be usable or help.

A fundamental problem is that the existing Old Put is squeezed between the golf course and the (more persistently wet) wetlands.

There'd been talk earlier this year of building decent bike infrastructure up Broadway to the West of the park, but incumbent local shortsightedness seems to have killed or indefinitely delayed that. If that connected across the top of the park (side streets to Mclean Ave?) it might actually be better for commuting issues than an improved Old Put.

I do start to worry if it will be closed for a long time for paving work - potentially in the off season, but "off season" is subjective.
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Old 07-12-17, 06:41 PM
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They have talked about paving it. I wish they would.
https://www.facebook.com/PutnamTrail/
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Old 07-13-17, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Jarrettsin View Post
They have talked about paving it. I wish they would.
I'd somehow concluded that paving was happening this year, but now cannot find whatever lead me to think that definitively.

All I'm finding is that this time around the two community boards near the park voted in favor by a very wide margin.

The same folks who did their best to sink or delay Broadway improvements.

I really wish some of the anti-paving folks would spend some time on the Westchester and Putnam portions, even just a mile up in the Tibbets Brook section. The reality there is nothing like what they fear. VCP definitely has human presence issues, but the offenders are the highways and golf course, making the pathway consistently accessible will have trivial impact in comparison, for huge public benefit.

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Old 01-28-18, 07:29 AM
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: https://www.nycgovparks.org/planning-and-building/capital-project-tracker/project/4781

They just finished the Design phase looks like it's still over 2 years out! Unfortunately!
Took advantage of the nice day yesterday got a ride in and tried cutting through there. ( don't normally this time of year) Big mistake a real mud fest the normally hard packed dirt with a few mud puddles to get around the WHOLE trail was 4 inches of soft mud all the way down. Don't know how I made it through my hybrid is not set up for that and it killed my legs for the climb up MCP. My bikes now a mess and needs work before it can go out again.
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Old 01-30-18, 02:30 PM
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Thanks for posting the link to the VCP Putnam Trail construction schedule. I checked the link shortly after you posted your message and commented to DPR about the three different completion dates. I requesting a correction / update. Whatís been added:

Project Update: The project is currently in legal review by staff members at Parks and the New York City Corporation Counsel.
Contrast this legal review with mud drying Ė the original subject of this thread Ė and Iím not optimistic.

Meanwhile, back to the threadís original subject Ė mud drying on the VCP segment of the Old Put: where we currently ride is for the most part an old drainage ditch next to the adjacent engineered stabilized built-up embankment that was the Putnam Line's track bed. No surprise that where we try to ride is frequently a muddy mess.

If thereís any good news in this morass, itís that some years ago, DPR abandoned its original proposal to build the trail in the muddy ditch. Current plans are to construct the trail, for the most part, on the existing engineered stabilized built-up embankment the railroad maintained for more than a century to keep its tracks out of the mud.
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Old 01-31-18, 05:45 AM
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Just wish they would do something! When passable it's so much a better way to go then the alterative route to the South County Trail. But that still looks like a couple of years out!
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Old 02-04-18, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by arbee View Post
where we currently ride is for the most part an old drainage ditch next to the adjacent engineered stabilized built-up embankment that was the Putnam Line's track bed.
The frequent patches with remaining railroad ties show that this is only a difference of a 2 or 3 inches.

I suppose having a smooth path over the top of those would be a substantial improvement. Though the bumpy condition of the SCT just north of La Lanterna where the ties are rumored to remain under the pavement indicates how that can turn out.

Still - do *something*. Having that mile of the big muddy standing between us and such a wonderful ride is just not right.

And it's not just those of us on wheel(s) - the mud is hardly friendlier to hiking, unless one plans to do that in rubber overboots.

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Old 03-19-18, 08:29 PM
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Word is that in defiance of CB8 objections, they're going to build a protected bike lane up Broadway from 242nd street: https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2018/03/...ortlandt-park/

Cross streets to get over to the SCT still look to be pretty far, but having some backup alternative to the old muddy would be nice.
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