Van Cortlandt Park

Park Overview:

A busy urban park full of sports opportunities, but with a substantial natural area and trails that impart a much more remote experience.

Trail Uses:Hiking, Mountain biking, Bridle path, Handicapped
Dogs:Dogs on leash
Trail Miles:15 miles
Park Acreage:1146 acres
City/County/
State:
/Bronx/NY
Web Map:Brochure and Trail Map
Trail Conference volunteers maintain trails in this park.
Park Description:

A city recreation mecca, Van Cortlandt Park hosts facilities for a long list of sports: baseball, basketball, bocci, cricket, football, soccer, tennis, handball, paddleball, and golf. Additionally there is a nature center, a riding stable, a running track, cross country courses and plenty of playground. The park is generally centered around The Parade Ground -a large flat expanse that contains many of the playing fields. A trail encircles the Parade Ground and leads to more trails in less developed parts of the park.

The natural areas and most of the trails are concentrated in the wooded northern section of the park which is divided into the Northwest Forest, Croton Woods and the Northeast Forest by the 3 major highways that transect the park. These highways limit access between these different sections of the park to just one or two crossing points. 

Trails Overview:

There are three trails in the Northwest Forest:

  • The Cass Gallagher Trail [1.4 miles], a multi-use paved trail.
  • The Cross Country Trail [1.3 miles], a part of the cross-country running course.
  • A bridle path that follows the route of long-defunct commuter rail line that ran from High Bridge in the Bronx to Yonkers.

These trails are all accessed from Mosholu Parkway near the riding stable or from the Parade Ground.

Two major trails run through Croton Woods in at a north-south orientation:  

  • The Putnam Trail [1.5 miles] follows an abandoned railbed through wetlands and bisects the Van Cortlandt Golf Course. Portions of the John Kieran Nature Trail follow the Putnam Trail.
  • The Old Croton Aqueduct Trail [1.1 miles] is part of a regional trail that begins 26 miles to the north in Westchester County and extends into Manhattan. The trail lies on top of the 1842 masonry aqueduct that brought New York City its first clean water supply.  The Aqueduct is a National Historic Landmark, a designation that includes the trail and all ancillary structures up to the Manhattan shore of the Harlem River.    

These trails are accessed from the Van Cortlandt Golf House or Yonkers.

In the Northeast Forest there are two major unnamed trails that cross the area.

  • One that parallels the Major Deegan Expressway, roughly north-south.
  • The other which runs east-west into Croton Woods.

These trails are accessed through a service road from Van Cortlandt Park East, from Yonkers, or from the Croton Woods' trails.

The John Muir Nature Trial [1.7 miles] crosses the park connecting all 3 woodland tracts. There are other informal trails and connectors in all the sections of the park.

A brochure with trailmap is available from the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park; use the Web Map link near the top of this page.

Directions:

Several NYC bus routes service the area. By subway, the No.1 line stops at 242nd St. at the southwest corner of the park, and the No. 4 line stops at Woodlawn station at the southeast corner. By car, the park is accessible from the Henry Hudson Parkway, the Mosholu Parkway and the Major Deegan Expressway, although finding parking around the park is often difficult.

Contact Information:Friends of Van Cortlandt Park
7186011553
Region:New York City
Fees:None