Old Croton Aqueduct from Tarrytown to Ossining

Overview

This level hike follows the route of the historic Old Croton Aqueduct from Tarrytown to Ossining, with return via Metro-North train.

Details
Time:
5 hours
Difficulty:
Easy to Moderate
Length:
9 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:
05/30/2002

Updated/Verified:
03/11/2012
Submitter:
Daniel Chazin

Photo

Parking

View Old Croton Aquaduct Tarrytown Parking in a larger map
Trailhead GPS Coordinates
41.066798,-73.860312
Driving Directions

Take the New York State Thruway to Exit 9 (Tarrytown). At the top of the ramp, turn right onto South Broadway (US 9). Proceed north on South Broadway for 0.9 mile, then turn right onto Franklin Street. You will note the aqueduct route heading north from Franklin Street a short distance east of South Broadway. Find a parking space on Franklin Avenue or Grove Street (the next street to the east).

Train

Take the Metro-North Hudson Line to the Tarrytown Station. Be sure to sit on the left side of the train to enjoy beautiful views of the Hudson River! When you arrive in Tarrytown, proceed to the southern end of the station and follow Franklin Street up the hill. Just beyond South Broadway, the Aqueduct route begins to the left. You will be returning from the Ossining station.

Description

This hike follows the historic route of the Old Croton Aqueduct, built between 1837 and 1842 to supply water to New York City. Supplanted by two newer aqueducts, the Old Croton Aqueduct was taken out of service in 1965. The level footpath atop the aqueduct tube has for many years been a favorite of walkers, and the aqueduct route in Westchester County became a state park in 1968. Except for occasional posts at road intersections with the letters "OCA," there are few markings along the route, so you should be careful to follow the directions below.

Begin the hike by proceeding north from Franklin Street along the Aqueduct, which passes between the backyards of adjacent homes. The route is very narrow here, but the right-of-way on which you are walking is part of the state park. After crossing several local streets, you will notice a chimney-like stone tower with the number "13." These towers, known as ventilators, were constructed along the aqueduct route about every mile. Their purpose was to keep the water fresh and equalize the pressure along the route.

The Aqueduct continues along on a high embankment over Andre Brook and reaches the spacious grounds of Sleepy Hollow High School. The school has a breezeway across the aqueduct, so you will have to detour to the right around the building. Beyond the school building, continue north through a parking lot between a ball field on the right and a wooded strip (the actual Aqueduct route) on the left. At the north end of the parking lot, continue past the gate to Bedford Avenue.

Cross Bedford Avenue and continue along a grassy embankment. After passing another ventilator and crossing Gorey Brook Road, the trail enters a beautiful wooded section. To the right, the land is part of the Rockefeller State Park Preserve. To the left is the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, the burying ground of the old Dutch Reformed Church. After passing the cemetery, the Aqueduct curves to the left and crosses the Pocantico River on a long embankment, towering 85 feet above the stream. A stone building, known as a weir (which contained large metal gates to regulate the flow of the water) is located just beyond the embankment.

In another 0.75 mile, the Aqueduct route is interrupted by the limited-access Route 117. Here, the trail goes east along Route 117, turns left and crosses the highway on a steel bridge, then turns left again until it finally regains the Aqueduct route. The trail is bordered for most of the way by high fences, so it is not hard to follow. Upon reaching the historic Aqueduct route, the trail bears right and soon passes another ventilator.

Shortly after the ventilator, the trail bears left and crosses Route 9 on a steel bridge. This road, also known as the Albany Post Road, predates the Aqueduct, so when the Aqueduct was constructed, it passed over the road on a stone-arch bridge. But when traffic began to increase, the arch became inadequate, and it was removed in 1924. A new steel bridge was constructed in 1998.

The trail continues through a pleasant stretch of woodland walking. After crossing Country Club Lane, it once more goes through some backyards and passes another ventilator. It reaches River Road opposite a school. Here, the Aqueduct crosses under Route 9. To avoid an unpleasant walk on this busy highway, the trail turns left and follows River Road. It turns right onto Creighton Avenue, then right once more onto River Road. This stretch of road walking is an interesting change of pace, with beautiful views of the river to the left. The trail turns right onto Scarborough Station Road, which it follows back to Route 9.

When you reach Route 9, you will notice a large church on the opposite side of the road. Cross the road, bear right, then immediately turn left onto Scarborough Road. Continue for two blocks, then turn right on Long Hill Road. You will see the Aqueduct route crossing the road here; turn left and follow the wide Aqueduct path. After crossing Scarborough Road again, the Aqueduct enters a pleasant wooded section, continuing across an embankment and passing another ventilator. Residential buildings soon appear to the left, after which the Aqueduct curves sharply to the left, passes through a parking lot, and reaches Highland Avenue (Route 9) in Ossining.

Cross the road, turn right, then bear left and follow a macadam path which skirts a ball field in a town park. Cross the intersection of Washington and Edward Streets and go through another park, with a paved path following straight along the Aqueduct route, then turn right onto Spring Street. You will notice a ventilator on the school grounds to the right. This one is particularly interesting because it is inscribed with the name of the contractor who built this section of the Aqueduct and the date of the construction. Proceed ahead on Spring Street to Maple Place. Turn right here and then left, regaining the route of the Aqueduct, which is now a landscaped path, and reach Main Street.

After crossing Main Street, you will notice an interpretive sign to the left of the trail. You are approaching the Double Arch across the Sing Sing Kill -- one arch carries the Aqueduct; another, below, carries Broadway over the kill. Just before the arches, you will see a path leading to the right. Take a short detour here to visit the Ossining Heritage Area Visitor Center, in the hollow to the east of the arches. It contains exhibits on the construction of the Aqueduct and the Ossining Correctional Facility (commonly known as Sing Sing). After stopping at the visitor center, cross the Double Arch and reach a stone weir, built in 1882.

The trail route now crosses a street and climbs a flight of steps. After passing some brick-and-stone ruins to the left, turn left at the next street (Van Wyck Avenue), then immediately turn left again onto Snowden Avenue. Turn left at Water Street and follow it to Main Street, then turn right and continue to the Ossining Metro-North station, where southbound trains to Tarrytown leave every half hour (for schedules, call 1-800-METRO-INFO or go to www.mta.info). Be sure to sit on the right side of the train to enjoy beautiful views of the Hudson River! The train ride takes only eight minutes. When you arrive in Tarrytown, proceed to the southern end of the station and follow Franklin Street up the hill and across South Broadway to where you started the hike.