In Yorktown NY you'll climb one of Westchester County's greatest hikes at the Turkey Mountain Nature Preserve.
The 831 foot summit offers panoramic views of the Croton Reservoir, Hudson River, Manhattan Skyline, Hudson Higlands, and Shawangunk Ridge.
Its an awesome sight, easily reached within 20 minutes.
The Trail Up
The 150 acre preserve is best seen by looping the white and blue trails.
The white trail (o.7 miles) is a steep 20 minutes to the top.
The blue trail meanders a bit longer (1.7 miles) and features large rock crags.
Both meet at a gorgeous summit - making for a nice, easy 2.5 mile hike
Start with the white trail.
At the base of the mountain, you'll pass the outdoor "classroom" and the Red and Yellow trails. There's some good meandering over that way, but stay focused.
Keep going over the foot bridge and wetlands. In Spring and Summer this will be lush with skunk cabbage and ferns with a stream running through.
The route then ascends a few switch-backs up the side of Turkey Mountain.
At the last push, before you reach the very top, there are excellent eastern views at an outcrop of smooth rocks on your right. It's worth a stop.
Here, you can see the Silos of Hanover Farm, houses popping out of wooded hills, and the Croton Reservoir.
The steel bridge, or the "tressle," you see over the reservoir is part of the North County Trailway and goes all the way to Brewster.
After taking in these early views, continue up. In another 5 minutes you'll be at the top.
The Views at the Top
Stand on the concrete cubes which mark the summit and you'll feel on top of the world. Despite the 813 foot elevation.
Look south. The Taconic parkway carves its way through the hills and the New York City skyline shimmers in the background, 40 miles away.
West you'll see two bodies of water. The closer one is the Croton Reservoir, and beyond is a peek at the Hudson River.
In the 1800s, when New York City needed a source of fresh water, engineers damned the Croton river, filling all the valleys around Yorktown NY with water. Thus the reservoir is shaped like a snake.
To the north you can see Bear Mountain and the Hudson Highlands; and further on a clear day, the Shawangunk mountains near New Paltz.
Hop off the concrete blocks and walk through the brush in front of you (if you're facing the water). Here you'll find nice flat rocks that fit your butt just right - with all the views intact.
The Trail Down
Continue along the summit, under a low canopy of trees and you'll be on the blue trail.
You'll walk over long flat rocks and carpets of moss, soft and clean enough to sleep on.
Then you descend what feels like the side of a bowl.
You'll notice large rock crags on this part of the trail.
Each time I pass here, I can hardly resist running up to them and climbing them... touching the cold surfaces... listening to the murmuring trickle of water somewhere inside them.
You'll also notice stone barriers. These mark property lines from 1800s, probably from either the Griffin or Underhill families.
Today the land is owned by the Yorktown ny Land Trust.
I remember going on a school field trip here when I was a kid.
The old man who guided the trip sat us down on some benches and went into a story about the "Leather Man."
The Leather Man was a silent wanderer. He dressed head-to-toe in a suit of leather, wore a thick beard and carried little more than the bare essentias of tools and utensils.
His life consisted of traveling a 300 mile circuit through Connecticut and Westchester County.
He'd sleep in caves and barns, going from town to town - all the way from places like Danbury and through White Plains, Ossining, Yorktown NY and Peekskill.
Legend has it, that he spent many nights at the boulder lean-to's found along the blue trail at Turkey Mountain. In 1889 the mysterious man was found dead in a cave in Ossining.
Turn up a steep rough road, off Rt. 118 - Just across from the Peter Pratt's Inn sign. Park at the end of the road. You'll see the signs for Turkey Mountain Nature Preserve.
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