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 1.8-mile section from Hartsdale to Scarsdale was obliterated as part of a project to improve the parkway, but the remainder of the 11.6-mile stretch from Valhalla to Bronxville remained intact. The Hartsdale-to-Scarsdale section of the...
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 1.8-mile section from Hartsdale to Scarsdale was obliterated as part of a project to improve the parkway, but the remainder of the 11.6-mile stretch from Valhalla to Bronxville remained intact. The Hartsdale-to-Scarsdale section of the pathway was restored in 2021, so it now, once again, is possible to walk the entire length of the pathway from Valhalla to Bronxville. 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 for the return trip to Valhalla. Since the route of the pathway approaches a number of Metro-North stations, it is also possible to do a shorter hike.
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.thewpf.org/audio-tours
The pathway begins on the east side of Kensico 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. After paralleling the Bronx River, the pathway crosses Fisher Lane at 1.6 miles. It continues straight ahead on a paved path that gently climbs a hill, then descends to cross a footbridge high above the river (with the North White Plains Metro-North station visible on the left). At the base of the descent, the pathway turns right at a T-intersection, proceeds through park-like meadows, and turns left to parallel the parkway.
After crossing the Bronx River on a footbridge, the pathway 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, the pathway briefly parallels the access road to the lot, then turns left and crosses the access road on a marked pedestrian path. The pathway immediately turns right and follows a paved path that meanders through grassy fields 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 [Note: As of February 2022, this footbridge is out; however, walkers can detour along a road on the left] 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 on 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. (To reach the Hartsdale Metro-North station, turn right onto Greenacres Avenue.) The pathway crosses Greenacres Avenue at a crosswalk and turns right onto Fountain Terrace. Where Fountain Terrace turns sharply left, the pathway continues ahead on a wide macadam path that bears left and parallels the parkway. Upon reaching Fenimore Road at 5.4 miles, the pathway turns right, crosses over the parkway, then turns left and crosses Fenimore Road.
The pathway now proceeds south, at first paralleling the entrance ramp to the parkway. For the next 1.3 miles, the pathway runs along a narrow strip between the parkway and the river. This section of the pathway, constructed at a cost of $6.7 million and opened in 2021, features stone retaining walls that add to the beauty of the route. For much of the way, the parkway is raised above the pathway, so that it is not visible to walkers. For a short section, the parkway and the pathway are at the same elevation, after which the pathway climbs a little and runs above the parkway.
At 6.7 miles, the pathway curves to the right and passes under a truss bridge that carries the railroad over the river. The pathway now runs between the railroad and the river, with a high fence between the pathway and the railroad, and the parkway out of sight. After passing a pedestrian footbridge over the river that leads to Aqueduct Drive, the pathway goes under the parkway. An interpretive sign explains how the unusual “mushroom” abutments of this Crane Road Bridge were retained when the bridge was reconstructed in 2015. Here, a paved path on the left leads up to the Scarsdale station.
The pathway reaches the southern end of the Scarsdale station at 7.1 miles. It bears right, descends on a paved path to the Bronx River and crosses the river on the picturesque three-span Tooley Bridge below Scarsdale Falls. 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 7.6 miles, 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 8.0 miles. 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 8.3 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 8.6 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 9.2 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 9.8 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 10.2 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 10.8 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.
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 11.6 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 the Taconic State Parkway at the traffic light (Cleveland Street), turn right onto Broadway, the village’s main street, and continue past a church. Just beyond the church parking lot, take the faint path heading off to the left through the woods to the Kensico Dam Plaza.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 02/09/2012 updated/verified on 02/09/2022
This hike follows an interesting and scenic pathway parallel to the Bronx River and the Bronx River Parkway, with return by Metro-North train.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.