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Cranberry Lake Preserve Loop
Remenants of quarry operations, old stone walls,a small cascade, and scenic Cranberry Lake are features on this hike at Cranberry Lake Preserve.
Waterfall, Historic feature, Woods, Birding, Wildflowers
Cranberry Lake Preserve map (available at Nature Center)
Trail Conference volunteers maintain trails in this park.
From the Bronx River Parkway at the Kensico Dam, take Route 22 North Once past the dam, turn right at a traffic light onto Old Orchard Street. In about 100 feet, turn right into the Cranberry Lake Preserve, and continue ahead for 0.3 mile to the Nature Center, where parking is available. (If the entrance gate is closed, park outside the gate and walk along the road.)
Although Cranberry Lake Preserve is surrounded on several sides by watershed lands. It is a quiet oasis in the midst of suburban Westchester County and offers a pleasant walk around a tranquil lake. Trail junctions in the preserve are marked by numbered wooden signs, and the numbers are shown on the trail map of the preserve and referenced in this description.
After obtaining a map at the Nature Center, proceed south on a wide yellow-blazed path. At a blue sign to the "Lake" (junction #4), turn left and follow an orange-blazed trail downhill to the shore of Cranberry Lake, then turn right (at junction #26) onto a trail with blue and yellow blazes. After briefly following the lake shore, the trail climbs to ledges that overlook the lake and parallels it. At the end of the lake, it descends, crosses a boardwalk and arrives at junction #6.
Turn left onto a wide path and briefly follow blue, purple, and red blazes; then turn left at the next junction (#7) onto an orange-blazed trail which, immediately crosses the Bent Bridge over a bog. The trail goes through an attractive evergreen grove, runs along old stone walls, and passes the "stone chamber" – probably an old root cellar. At the end of the orange trail (junction #16), turn right onto a wide path and follow it to a Y-intersection, with a sign for the New York City Watershed on a tree (junction #18).
Bear left here, now following the Red Loop Trail. This trail, which circles the park, will be your route for most of the remainder of the hike. To the right, marking the boundary between the park and New York City Watershed lands, is an expertly-laid dry stone wall, built nearly a century ago and still in nearly perfect condition today (except where damaged by fallen trees). Soon, the trail bears left and heads south, continuing to follow the wall.
At the southern end of the park, with private homes visible ahead, the red trail turns left and begins to head east. Be alert for a sharp right turn and head downhill toward Hush Pond, continuing to follow the red trail. Cross the outlet of the pond on puncheons, bear left (north), and soon begin to parallel a wetland on the left. In a short distance, you’ll join a level dirt road, with cliffs on the right.
Soon, the cliffs are supplanted by a concrete wall. This wall is a remnant of a facility built about 1912 to crush stone that was quarried just to the east of the trail and used for the construction of the Kensico Reservoir. Just beyond a crumbling section of the wall, you’ll reach junction #13, where a blue-blazed trail leads left to a wooden observation platform, which affords a view over South Pond. This is a good place to take a break and enjoy the tranquil setting.
When you’re ready to continue, return to the main trail and turn left (north), now following both blue and red blazes. Soon, you’ll reach a small cascade, with a bench for those who wish to contemplate this beautiful spot. Turn right here (junction #15), leaving the wide road, and cross the stream on a wooden footbridge, continuing to follow blue and red blazes. At the next fork, bear right and proceed along the Red Loop Trail through a mountain laurel thicket. After a short climb, you’ll reach junction #20, where the Purple (History) Loop, marked with purple-on-white blazes, joins from the right.
The trail now descends rather steeply. At the base of the descent (junction #21), the blue trail joins from the left, and the trails cross a boardwalk. Just beyond, at junction #22, the trails again split. Bear right, continuing to follow the red and purple-on-white trails, and cross another boardwalk. Cranberry Lake is visible through the trees on the left. Bear right at junction #23, continuing to follow the red and purple-on-white blazes.
After curving to the left, the trail reaches a T-intersection (junction #34), with cliffs ahead. Here, the red and purple-on white trails turn right, but you should turn left, now following yellow blazes. At the next junction (#33), bear left, continuing to follow the yellow blazes, and descend to the lake. At junction #24, turn right and follow yellow and blue blazes, with the trail paralleling Cranberry Lake. After passing a viewpoint over the lake, you’ll reach junction #26. Turn right onto the orange trail, follow it back up to the yellow trail at junction #4, and turn right on the yellow trail to return to the Nature Center where the hike began.