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 became a state park in 1968. Except for green posts with the...
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 became a state park in 1968. Except for green posts with the letters “OCA” at some road intersections and trail junctions, 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 route, 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 soon reaches the spacious grounds of Sleepy Hollow High School. The school has a breezeway across the Aqueduct, so you will have to detour around the building. Turn right and climb the steps at the southeast comer of the building, turn left, then go north once more, walking 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 stone 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 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.
After briefly paralleling Route 9 and passing through a rock cut, 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, in a third of a mile, passes another ventilator.
Soon after passing 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 on Creighton Lane, then right once more on 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 on Scarborough Station Road, which it follows back to Route 9 (Albany Post Road).
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 onto Long Hill Road. Almost immediately, turn left onto the wide Aqueduct route, which parallels Scarborough Road. The Aqueduct recrosses Scarborough Road and enters a pleasant wooded section, continuing across an embankment and passing another ventilator, with residential buildings below on the left. After passing taller apartment buildings, a swimming pool and tennis courts, 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 stone 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 brick path, and reach Main Street.
After crossing Main Street, you will notice interpretive signs 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. You may wish to take a short detour here to visit the Ossining Urban Park Visitors Center at the Joseph J. Caputo Community Center, in the valley below. It contains exhibits on the construction of the Aqueduct and the Sing Sing Correctional Facility (commonly known as the Sing Sing Prison). After stopping at the visitors center, cross the Double Arch and reach a stone weir, built in 1882.
The trail route now crosses a street, climbs a flight of steps, and continues on a macadam path through a park. Cross North Malcolm Avenue and continue to follow the Aqueduct route, passing brick-and-stone ruins on the left. At the next street (Van Wyck Avenue), turn left (leaving the Aqueduct route) then immediately turn left again onto Snowden Avenue and follow it downhill. At the base of the hill, turn left onto 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 at least 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.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 05/30/2002 updated/verified on 01/25/2017
This level hike follows the route of the historic Old Croton Aqueduct from Tarrytown to Ossining, with return via 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.