Boy, is spring ever late coming this year. Last weekend found us more than eager to finally get out in the warmish weather. Figuring Central Park would be packed, we decided to take our bikes north of the city to the Bronx River Pathway.
This Greenway runs along the Bronx River in Westchester County, NY. The trail has three paved segments, which are not continuous. We chose to ride the uppermost section from Greenacres Road to Kensico Dam, about a 10 mile round trip. It’s not an entirely bucolic country ride, since the highway and civilization are never far away, but there are more than enough green spaces and points of interest that we barely noticed the the nearby traffic.
The trail takes you from north Scarsdale through White Plains to the Kensico Dam Park in Valhalla. You’ll be biking along babbling waters, past a tennis club, along a poorly paved section in the forest, then on a decently-paved path through White Plains, taking some steep and narrow stretches under the roadways (Get off and walk here – you risk hitting a biker coming the other way or worse, hitting your head on the low overhanging bridges).
You’ll cut across a parking lot and a road or two, including one short stint over a roadway bridge where the trail does not cut perfectly across the road. Just follow the bike signs.
Along the trail, there are numbered outposts of the Bronx River Walk App, a podcast narrated by Dan Rather, who tells the history of the Bronx River, and directs your attention to points of interest, both man-made and natural, along the way. Given that the trail has a slight uphill grade going north and a few steep (but mercifully short) uphill climbs, these little listening breaks were both enjoyable and restful.
Once you climb up the hill to the Valhalla Bridge, you’re almost at the north end of the trail and your ride’s halfway point.
Stop and look north – you’ll see the Kensico Dam, beckoning like a Mayan Temple in the distance.
The dam, built in the 1920’s, holds back the waters of the Kensico reservoir, which is a terminal collecting point for water from 6 other reservoirs in the Catskills ultimately destined to be delivered to New York City.
It is massively beautiful (my pictures do not do it justice)
and graced on its south side by a lovely public park.
You can ride (or in my case walk) your bike up the winding brick road on the right of the dam
all the way up, where a road allows you to ride right across the top of the dam!
It’s just so cool – seeing the water high on one side
and the land way down below on the other.
The park has restrooms and food – if we’d planned the day better, we would have left earlier and planned to stop here for lunch. But we had dinner plans back in the city, so after a brief rest we headed back down the trail. The trail heading south is almost all downhill, and before I knew it we were back at the trailhead!
The Bronx River Greenway is a great day trip from New York City. Leave early, plan to stop for lunch at the Kensico Dam and make a day of it.
One thing I would have also liked to have done would be to spend some time exploring Scarsdale’s downtown, perhaps having a late afternoon coffee there after the ride. Take Fox Meadow Road south from near the trailhead for about 2 miles, mostly flat according to google maps. If you’re not driving, you can get the train from the Scarsdale station back to the city.
This is perhaps the most difficult aspect of this trip if, like me, you live in the city and don’t know West Chester. We drove, and took 87 to the Cross Bronx to the Bronx River Parkway. It’s probably easier to just take 278 to the Bronx River Parkway. The Bronx River Parkway becomes rather narrow and windy as it goes north, and may be closed if it’s a Sunday (See alternate route below). Follow your map carefully. Next time we may just take the train.
- By train : Take Metro North from Grand Central to Hartsdale. Bike over Fenimore Road, then a left onto Greenacres to the trailhead. If you pass the church, you’ve gone too far.
- By car (Enter Hitchcock Presbyterian Church in Scarsdale as your destination.): Head north to the Bronx River Parkway, taking the Fenimore Ave Exit. Turn right onto Fenmore, left onto Walworth ave, then another left on Greenacres Road. Park across from the church.
- If it’s a Sunday morning in fair weather season, the Bronx River Parkway may be closed to cars, in which case take the Hutchinson Parkway to exit 22, then take Mamarineck Road to Fenmore and then Greenacres.