Bronx River Pathway

Overview

This hike follows an interesting and scenic pathway parallel to the Bronx River and the Bronx River Parkway, with return by Metro-North train.

Details
Time:
6 hours
Difficulty:
Easy
Length:
9.8 miles
Route Type:
Shuttle/Two car or Public Transportation
Dogs:
Allowed on leash
Features:
Views, Public Transportation
Location
Park:
Region:
County:
Westchester
State:
NY
Publication
First Published:
02/09/2012

Updated/Verified:
04/27/2014
Submitter:
Daniel Chazin

Photo

Parking


View Bronx River Parkway Reservation in a larger map

Trailhead GPS Coordinates
41.072014,-73.768624
Driving Directions

Take the Bronx River Parkway north to its terminus at the Kensico Dam Plaza, where free parking is available.

Train

Take the Metro-North Harlem Line to the Valhalla station. Walk south to the old station building (currently a restaurant). Cross over the Taconic State Parkway at the traffic light (Cleveland Street), turn right onto Broadway, the village’s main street, and continue until you reach a church. Just beyond the church parking lot, take the faint path heading off to the left through the woods to the Kenisco Dam Plaza.

Description

When completed in 1925, the Bronx River Parkway was part of a wooded reservation, with a pathway running along the parkway for its entire length. In 1967, a two-mile section from Hartsdale to Scarsdale was eliminated as part of a project to improve the parkway, but the remainder of the 12-mile stretch from Valhalla to Bronxville is still intact. Except for a 1.1-mile section north of Hartsdale, the pathway is paved for its entire length. Although it parallels the parkway, it is often located some distance from the roadway, and it closely parallels the river for much of the way.

This hike extends from Valhalla to Bronxville, with Metro-North trains being used to bridge the two-mile gap between Hartsdale and Scarsdale, and for the return trip to Valhalla. Mileages are given separately for each section of the hike (Valhalla to Hartsdale, and Scarsdale to Bronxville), and each section can be done independently (although parking near the Scarsdale station may be difficult to find, except on Sundays).

Your hike will be enhanced if you listen to the audio commentary provided by Friends of Westchester Parks. Their audio tour of the pathway provides information on history, flora and fauna, with signs along the route indicating the appropriate number to be entered for each feature. It may be accessed at www.friendsofwestchesterparks.org.

Kensico Dam. Photo by Daniel Chazin.The pathway begins on the east side of Kenisco Dam Plaza, near the steps to the top of the dam. It heads south, passing The Rising, a memorial to Westchester County residents who were killed in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. At the entrance to the plaza, it crosses the access road to Route 22 and turns left to parallel it. After going beneath an overpass, the pathway turns right and passes ballfields on the left. It crosses Washington Avenue North and goes over the Valhalla Viaduct, which spans the Metro-North railroad tracks. A plaque in the stonework of the viaduct – designed to look like a suspension bridge – gives details of the construction of the parkway, which was dedicated at this viaduct in 1925.

The pathway now turns left and follows an attractive, wooded section between the railroad and the parkway. Soon it crosses a footbridge over the Bronx River – the first of many crossings of the river. It crosses Virginia Road at 1.0 mile and then Parkway Homes Road, which leads to the Metro-North rail yards. Paralleling the Bronx River, the path crosses Fisher Lane at 1.6 miles. Here, you should turn left and head toward the railroad underpass, crossing a bridge over the river and passing the parking lot entrance to the Metro-North Harlem Line North White Plains station. Just past the exit from the parking lot, turn right onto the paved path that runs between the parking lot guardrail and the railroad embankment.

After passing a walkway up to the station and a stairway to the platforms, turn right at 2.0 miles (opposite a tunnel on the left that leads under the tracks) onto another paved path that crosses a road leading to the station parking lot. The path goes through park-like meadows, then turns left to parallel the parkway. It crosses the Bronx River on a footbridge, crosses Old Tarrytown Road at 2.3 miles, and passes under I-287 bridges. Just beyond, it passes a transmission station for a gas pipeline and crosses another footbridge over the Bronx River. After crossing an exit road from the parking lot of the Westchester County Center, it reaches the southern end of the parking lot and crosses the access road to the lot on a marked pedestrian path. The pathway now turns right and follows a paved path along the perimeter of the lot. After passing a brick building on the left, the pathway turns right at 3.2 miles, with a 1913 pedestrian tunnel leading to the White Plains Metro-North station visible on the left.

The pathway now crosses a footbridge over a tributary of the Bronx River and closely parallels the river, passing under three bridges. After the third bridge, another path enters from the left. At 3.6 miles, the pathway turns right and crosses a footbridge over the river, continuing between the river on the left and the parkway on the right. At 4.1 miles, looming overhead, the massive arches of the Woodlands Viaduct carry the parkway across the valley, the pathway, the river, and the railroad. About 150 feet beyond the viaduct, the pathway makes a sharp left to cross the river on a footbridge. It immediately goes under the railroad and turns right to wedge between the parkway and the river. Here, the pathway become dirt-surfaced, and it remains unpaved for most of the way to Greenacres Avenue (except for several inclined sections). At 4.6 miles, the pathway passes through a low arch of a bridge that carries the parkway over the pathway and the river, then heads uphill onto a bluff above the river, with a path connecting to Walworth Avenue on the left.

Soon, the pathway descends to the river level and traverses the most natural of all the sections, with homes on the bluff to the left, and woods between the river and the parkway to the right. After passing a small dam at 5.1 miles, the river curves back under the highway, as the pathway turns left, away from it. Following a narrow path along a fence behind the private County Tennis Club of Westchester, the pathway passes a small pond constructed for the Haubold Gunpowder Mill in the 1840s.

The pathway reaches Greenacres Avenue at 5.3 miles. This marks the end of the first section of the pathway. Turn right onto Greenacres Avenue and cross the bridge over the parkway to reach the Hartsdale Metro-North station (now a Starbucks coffee shop, where light refreshments are available). Metro-North trains south to Scarsdale (where the pathway resumes) and north to North White Plains run every half hour (connections at White Plains to Valhalla operate hourly).

At the Scarsdale station, the pathway resumes just west of the station building. NOTE: To bypass a construction area, head south, parallel to a fence, then turn right at the end of the fence and descend on a footpath to the river. You cross the Bronx River on the picturesque three-span Tooley Bridge below Scarsdale Falls. Tooley Bridge. Photo by Daniel Chazin.The pathway goes between the river and the parkway and crosses beneath an overpass. The south side of the overpass contains an inscription commemorating the construction of the parkway in 1925. The pathway now enters Garth Woods, named for David Garth, whose estate donated the land to the Parkway Commission in 1915.

A short distance ahead, the parkway splits, and the pathway briefly parallels the northbound parkway, then turns left to cross a branch of the river on a rustic bentwood bridge. After recrossing the river on another rustic bridge, it passes through an attractive area, with many large trees and benches along the path. At 0.5 mile (from the Scarsdale staton), the pathway bears right and heads under the northbound parkway. The walkway is just inches from the water in the Bronx River, and it may be necessary to duck, as the girders are only about five and one-half feet above the path. The pathway crosses a long truss footbridge over the river and proceeds south through a wide wooded corridor between the northbound and southbound lanes of the parkway, passing more benches and an occasional wood duck house.

After traversing an open area, with a narrow pond on the right, the pathway reaches the intersection of Harney Road with the northbound lanes of the parkway at 0.9 mile. It turns left, crosses the northbound parkway, then immediately turns right and crosses Harney Road. It crosses a tributary stream on a footbridge, then, a short distance beyond,  recrosses the Bronx River on another truss footbridge, with the stone abutments of an old bridge visible to the left.

Now following a route between the river on the left and the parkway on the right, the pathway passes a small stone building at 1.2 miles. Originally built as a gas station, the building now serves as a Westchester County Tourist Information Center(open on weekends during July and August). The pathway recrosses the river on another truss footbridge and, at 1.5 miles, crosses Leewood Drive. To the left, the road goes under the railroad tracks through a narrow, one-lane stone-arch underpass.

For the next half mile, the pathway follows a wooded route, with the railroad on the left and the parkway, partially screened from view by the trees, on the right. Deciduous trees are interwoven with towering pines. After passing the Central Facilities of the Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation (a maintenance yard), the pathway bears right at 2.1 miles and follows a service road to Thompson Avenue, with the Crestwood station on the left.

The pathway crosses Thompson Avenue. After briefly bearing left, away from the river, the pathway reaches the north end of Crestwood Lake. As it follows the eastern shore of the lake, apartment buildings block the view of the railroad, and the parkway curves to the west. For a short distance, neither the railroad nor the parkway can be seen from the pathway. After passing ballfields on the left, the pathway reaches the south end of the lake at 2.7 miles. Here, it crosses a footbridge over its outlet, just below a stone dam, and heads north along the western shore of the lake. It soon comes out at the parkway, where it crosses an exit ramp leading to Read Avenue.

Now closely paralleling the parkway, the pathway passes a cul-de-sac. After crossing Scarsdale Road at 3.1 miles, it goes beneath an overpass. Just beyond, it bears left, parallels an entrance ramp to the parkway, then follows along its shoulder, crossing the Bronx River and passing the intersection of Elm Street with the entrance ramp. A short distance beyond, as the ramp curves sharply to the left, the pathway crosses the ramp and proceeds ahead through a landscaped area to the intersection of Yonkers Avenue and Garrett Street, with Tuckahoe Road just to the right. Crossing this busy intersection, the pathway enters a wide section of the Bronx River Reservation and reaches the northern end of Bronxville Lake at 3.7 miles. Paths lead around both sides of the lake, but the path along the left (east) side is further from the noise of the traffic on the parkway. Many benches line the pathway along the lake.Bronx River Lake. Photo by Daniel Chazin.

At the southern end of the lake, the easterly path crosses a bridge over the outlet and reaches a T-intersection, where the westerly path rejoins. Turn left to continue south on the pathway. A short distance ahead, where the pathway splits again, follow the left fork, which soon passes the foundations of the former Swain’s Mill (on the opposite bank of the river) and crosses Pondfield Road. After proceeding through another wide section of the reservation, the pathway ends at 4.5 miles at Palmer Avenue, adjacent to the Lawrence Hospital Center. To reach the Metro-North Harlem Line Bronxville Station, turn left (east) onto Palmer Avenue. Metro-North trains north to North White Plains run every half hour, but connections at White Plains to Valhalla operate hourly.

To return from the Valhalla station to your car at Kensico Dam Plaza, walk south to the old station, currently a restaurant. Cross over the Taconic State Parkway at the traffic light (Cleveland Street), turn right onto Broadway, the village’s main street, and continue until you reach a church. Just beyond the church parking lot, take the faint path heading off to the left through the woods to the Kenisco Dam Plaza.

Comment: Please be relevant, civil, non-commercial.

Dec 28/29

I am going to do this hike on Dec 28 or 29th. If anyone is intrested to join, send me a message Cheers