Old Croton Aqueduct from Ossining to Quaker Bridge
Directions to trailhead
Take the New York State Thruway to Exit 9 (Tarrytown). At the top of the ramp, turn right onto South Broadway (US 9) and proceed north for about seven miles to the Village of Ossining. Turn left at Broadway, proceed past the Ossining Community Center, continue under the Aqueduct bridge, and turn right onto Ann Street. Follow Ann Street until you see a large stone building on the right, which marks the Aqueduct crossing. Park along the street.
Take the Metro-North Hudson Line to the Ossining station. When you arrive at Ossining, follow Secor Road uphill, then continue ahead on Main Street until you reach the Aqueduct (marked by a sign on the left). Turn left onto the Aqueduct and follow it across the Double Arch Bridge to Ann Street.
This hike follows the historic route of the Old Croton Aqueduct, built between 1837 and 1842 to supply water to New York City. It became a state park in 1968.
Begin the hike by descending the steps to the left of the stone building, known as the Double Arch Weir. This structure, built in 1892, permitted the water in the Aqueduct to be drained into the river below for maintenance purposes. Continue across the Double Arch Bridge over the Sing Sing Kill – so named because the Broadway bridge passes through the arch of the Aqueduct bridge. Constructed in 1839, the Double Arch Bridge was regarded at the time as an engineering landmark. On the south side of the bridge, stairs lead down to the Ossining Heritage Area Visitor Center (in the Ossining Community Center building), which contains interesting and informative exhibits on the construction of the Old Croton Aqueduct. The exhibits are open daily except Sunday.
After viewing the exhibits, climb back up to the Aqueduct, recross the Double Arch Bridge, climb the steps to the right of the weir, and cross Ann Street. Continue along the Aqueduct as it climbs some more steps and continues ahead on a macadam path. After crossing the next street, it continues along a wide grassy strip, soon passing ruins of a brick root cellar on the left. The trail crosses Van Wyck Street and then Snowden Avenue -- marked by a fire house – diagonally to the right. It continues along a grassy embankment and passes a stone structure (whose origin and function is unknown).
After crossing Beach Road, the Aqueduct follows a wide grassy expanse, with townhouses on both sides. Between the townhouses on the left is the historic Kane Mansion (built in 1843). The Aqueduct continues across an embankment and reaches North Highland Avenue. It crosses this busy road at a crosswalk and turns left. Just ahead, it turns right at a sign, continues along another embankment, and follows a wide path between residential back yards.
The trail climbs a steep slope to cross Piping Rock Drive, then descends steeply to reach a chimney-like stone tower. 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.
Soon, you’ll pass a garage (used as a maintenance building for the Aqueduct) on the right and reach Ogden Road. The Aqueduct route continues ahead, but a green “OCA” signpost indicates that you should turn left, as the route ahead dead-ends at Route 9A. Turn left and follow Ogden Road down to Old Albany Post Road, then turn right and follow Old Albany Post Road under Route 9A. Just before the overpass, you’ll pass on the left the Parker Bale American Legion Post 1597, formerly a one-room schoolhouse.
On the north side of the overpass, turn right onto Shady Lane Farm Road. Follow the paved road for only 50 feet. At a green “OCA” signpost, turn left and follow along the left side of a black-clad chain-link fence, which skirts a training center of the General Electric Corporation. Continue following the fence as it makes several turns, climbs a rise, and then descends. At the base of the descent, you’ll pass a locked gate on the right. Continue ahead for a short distance, then turn left where indicated by a green “Aqueduct Trail” sign. You’re now back on the Aqueduct route. A short distance ahead, you’ll cross Quaker Bridge Road and pass another stone ventilator.
The next section of the route is one of the most beautiful sections of the entire 26-mile Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park. The wide path -- uninterrupted by road crossings for about a mile -- follows a route carved into the hillside, with the Croton River visible through the trees far below to the left.
In about three-quarters of a mile, you’ll pass a sign marking the Croton Gorge Unique Area, managed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Just beyond, you’ll hear the roar of the stream below as it passes through the rocky gorge.
Soon you’ll reach a second intersection with Quaker Bridge Road. Turn left, leaving the Aqueduct, and follow Quaker Bridge Road downhill to the Quaker Bridge, built in 1894. Turn left and cross this picturesque bridge over the Croton River. About 50 feet beyond the west end of the bridge, at the end of the guardrail, you’ll see a footpath, marked with “Trail-Link” blazes of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, that leads sharply left. Follow this footpath as it climbs the hill, heading south, parallel to the river.
In a few minutes, you’ll reach a wide dirt road at the top of the hill. This is the Croton Gorge Trail, maintained by the Village of Croton-on-Hudson. Turn left and follow this road, which runs along the Croton River Gorge. In about ten minutes, after descending a little, you’ll pass a dam on the left and reach Silver Lake Park, with a swimming area along the river (the beach and swimming area are for residents only).
After walking through the parking area, continue along Truesdale Drive, a pleasant residential street. Follow Truesdale Drive for about a mile to its end at a traffic circle, then bear left and continue along Benedict Boulevard for several blocks. Turn left onto South Riverside Avenue for one block, then turn right at the Gulf station, following signs to the Croton-Harmon railroad station. Continue past the Route 9 overpass and make the second left (onto Veterans Plaza), which leads to the station, where southbound trains to Ossining leave every half hour (for schedules, go to www.mta.info).
When you arrive at Ossining, follow Secor Road uphill to Main Street, then continue ahead on Main Street until you reach the Aqueduct (marked by a sign on the left). Turn left onto the Aqueduct and follow it across the Double Arch Bridge to Ann Street.