Know the New Hiking How-tos
Three Lakes Loop
Directions to trailhead
Take the New York State Thruway across the Tappan Zee Bridge and get off at Exit 8A, following signs to the Saw Mill River Parkway North. Continue on the Saw Mill River Parkway for about four miles, and take Exit 26 (Taconic State Parkway North - towards Albany). Follow the Taconic State Parkway for about seven miles, and take Exit 11 (Route 134), Turn left (west) onto Route 134 (towards Ossining) and continue for 0.3 mile, then turn right onto Spring Valley Road. Follow Spring Valley Road for 0.6 mile, and bear left at the fork. The parking lot for Teatown Lake Reservation is on the right, just past the Nature Center building.
This hike traverses the southeastern section of Teatown Lake Reservation, a 1,000-acre nature preserve in Westchester County. It runs along the shore of three scenic lakes - Vernay Lake, Teatown Lake and Shadow Lake - and traverses interesting terrain, with many old stone walls reminding the hiker that this area was once farmed.
From the parking lot, cross Spring Valley Road at the crosswalk, turn left beyond the gap in the stone wall, then turn right onto a woods road – the route of the orange-blazed Three Lakes Loop. You’ll pass a kiosk on the left and a small stone-lined pond on the right.
Proceed ahead on the woods road as it descends to the lake. When you reach the lake, turn right onto the white-blazed Vernay Lakeside Connector, which follows a narrow footpath along the northern shore of the lake. After passing the dam at the west end of the lake, it proceeds ahead on a woods road.
A short distance beyond, as the trail reaches overhead power lines, a wooden walkway on the left leads 100 feet to an observation platform. Here, the white-blazed trail turns right and climbs on a grassy woods road. It continues under the power lines, then descends towards Teatown Lake.
At the base of the descent, the trail crosses paved Spring Valley Road diagonally to the left. Just after reentering the woods, it reaches a junction with the white-blazed Lakeside Overlook Trail. Turn left onto this white-blazed trail. Just ahead, you’ll pass a rustic bench that overlooks Teatown Lake. After descending to the lakeshore, the Lakeside Overlook Trail ends at a junction with the blue-blazed Lakeside Loop.
Turn left onto the Lakeside Loop, which soon crosses a floating boardwalk along the southern end of the lake. At the end of the boardwalk, turn left onto the joint Three Lakes/Briarcliff-Peekskill Trail, blazed with orange and green markers. Just ahead, the trails turn left onto Spring Valley Road, follow the road for 100 feet, then turn right and reenter the woods.
In a third of a mile, after crossing a wetland on puncheons, you’ll come to a T-intersection. Here, the green-blazed Briarcliff-Peekskill Trail leaves to the right, but you should turn left, continuing to follow the orange-blazed Three Lakes Loop. Soon, the trail bears right, briefly follows a woods road bordered by a stone wall on the left, then turns left and goes through a gap in the wall. Just ahead, on the right, is a small waterfall (a rustic bench overlooks the waterfall).
The orange-blazed trail crosses a footbridge over a stream and climbs gradually. Soon after turning sharply right, the trail levels off for a short distance. It then crosses a footbridge over another stream, bears right, and passes by interesting moss-covered boulders on the left.
For the next half mile, the trail climbs gradually on a winding footpath. It then recrosses under the power lines, with views to the left. Here, the trail runs fairly close to Route 134, so you might hear the sounds of traffic.
The trail now begins a gradual descent. After crossing a short footbridge over a stream and climbing a little, the trail reaches the dam at the western end of Shadow Lake. It crosses the dam, then bears right and soon begins a winding descent to Vernay Lake. The descent is rather steep in places, and along the way the trail passes by an interesting rock ledge.
After passing a private home on the right near the base of the descent, the trail reaches the shore of Vernay Lake. Here, it bears right and reaches the northeast corner of the lake, where a white-blazed connector trail goes off to the right. Continue ahead on the orange-blazed trail, which follows a narrow footpath, with views over the lake. It traverses a narrow passage between boulders and reaches a concrete dock on the left, which affords panoramic views over the lake. A picnic table is provided if you’ll like to sit down and take in the views.
Follow the orange-blazed trail as it turns right opposite the dock, climbs stone steps, and joins a woods road. Head north on the woods road, retracing your steps back to Spring Valley Road. The parking lot where the hike began is directly across the road.