Know the New Hiking How-tos
Westmoreland Sanctuary Loop Hike
Directions to trailhead
From I-684, take Exit 4 (Mount Kisco/Bedford), and turn east at the bottom of the ramp onto NY 172. In 0.3 mile, turn left onto Chestnut Ridge Road. Continue along Chestnut Ridge Road for 1.2 miles to the entrance to Westmoreland Sanctuary, on the left.
Westmoreland Sanctuary is a 625-acre tract in suburban Westchester County. The sanctuary is sandwiched between I-684 and NY 22 and the noise of the traffic can be heard in different part of the hike. However, for the most part, the trails lead through quiet, secluded areas, with geologic formations and stone walls which are remnants of the area’s former agricultural use. The elevation difference between the highest and lowest points in the sanctuary is only 340 feet, but there are many ups and downs, especially in the latter portion of the hike. Trails in Westmoreland Sanctuary are blazed with plastic markers with arrows, and trail intersections are marked with wooden signs giving the trail names.
From the parking area, stop at the kiosk to obtain a map, then proceed uphill on a paved road, passing the sanctuary’s museum – the reconstructed Third Church of Bedford, originally built at a nearby location in 1783. Turn right onto the tan-blazed Easy Loop Trail, which begins on the right, opposite the museum, and descends on a winding footpath.
At the next intersection, turn right, now following both the tan-blazed Easy Loop Trail and the red-blazed Catbird Trail, but at the following intersection, proceed ahead on the Catbird Trail, when the Easy Loop Trail leaves to the left. The Catbird Loop Trail parallels a stone wall, crossing it twice. Along the way, on the right, you see yellow BRLA blazes which designate equestrian trails maintained by the Bedford Riding Lanes Associations; these equestrian trails should not be followed by hikers.
At the next intersection, turn right onto the white-blazed Spruce Hill Trail, which crosses a yellow-blazed BRLA trail and climbs to the crest of a rise. When there are no leaves on the trees, you can see the hills in the distance to the left (east). After descending, you’ll reach a T-intersection and turn right onto the orange-blazed Hemlock Trail, which crosses a stream on a wooden bridge and heads uphill on a woods road. After crossing an intermittent stream, the trail begins to descend. Near the base of the descent, it passes a number of unusually shaped rock outcrops that jut out of the ground at acute angles.
At the next intersection, turn right onto the yellow-blazed Coles Kettle Trail, which is in the shape of a “lollipop”-loop. After a short distance, you’ll reach the start of the loop proper. Turn right to follow the loop in a counter-clockwise direction. You’ll cross a footbridge over a stream and climb to a spot where a small wetland is visible below to the left, with imposing cliffs towering above you to the right. This is a good spot to stop for a break.
Continue ahead on the Coles Kettle Trail, which descends to reach a large wetland on the left. The trail loops around this wetland which has skunk cabbage in early spring and cinnamon ferns in the summer. It crosses several inlets of the wetland on bridges and passes through an area that is often wet, especially after heavy rains. The trail runs close to the sanctuary boundary in this area, and private homes may be visible to the right, through the trees. After running along the southern boundary of the sanctuary, the trail turns sharply left and crosses the wetland on a 400-foot-long boardwalk. The pond visible in the middle of the wetland is Coles Kettle, a hollow created by the melting of a huge block of ice left behind by a glacier.
At the end of the boardwalk, the trail turns left to go along the side of a hill with the wetland to the left. After descending on a woods road and continuing along the shore of the wetland, the trails reaches a small pond at the the wetland’s northern end. Here, the Coles Kettle Trail turns right and once again approaches the sanctuary boundary. It crosses two streams on wooden bridges and heads gently uphill to reach the start of the loop.
Turn right to return to the start of the Coles Kettle Trail. Here, at the T-intersection, turn right onto the orange-blazed Hemlock Trail, and follow it to its terminus at a four-way intersection, where the yellow-blazed BRLA Trail crosses. Continue ahead on the blue-blazed Laurel Trail, which briefly climbs through a shallow ravine, then descends steadily to reach a grassy area. Here, the BRLA Trail crosses again, and the Laurel Trail bears left.
A short distance beyond, you’ll reach another four-way intersection. Here, you should turn right onto the green-blazed Brookside Trail. Soon, the BRLA Trail joins briefly. Keep right and continue to follow the Brookside Trail, which heads gently downhill, parallel to a stream. At the base of the descent, the Brookside Trail crosses a bridge over the stream, reaching the lowest point in the sanctuary (390 feet). Just beyond, it ends at a junction with the Veery and Fox Run Trails.
Continue ahead, now following the red-blazed Fox Run Trail, which climbs rather steeply, then levels off, with a massive rock outcrop towering above on the left. The trail bears left and continues around the outcrop. After resuming its climb, it reaches a T-intersection; turn right onto the blue-blazed Sentry Ridge Trail.
The Sentry Ridge Trail heads southeast, twice crossing the BRLA Trail. Just beyond the second crossing, you’ll pass, to the left, quartz outcrops. Soon, the Sentry Ridge Trail comes out near the edge of a steep slope, with views through the trees over the hills to the east. (The road in the valley below is NY 22.) The trail now turns left, briefly follows along the side of the ridge, then bears left and climbs a little more to reach the crest of the ridge at a huge fallen tree.The Sentry Ridge Trail begins its descent on a winding footpath. After climbing a little and then leveling off, the trail bears right and continues to descend. Near the base of the descent, it once again crosses the BRLA Trail. The Sentry Ridge Trail now follows an old woods road alongside a stone wall and climbs to end at a T-intersection with the white-blazed Lost Pond Trail.
Turn right and follow the Lost Pond Trail, which crosses the outlet of the pond on a wooden bridge below a stone dam. and briefly follows the shore of the pond. Soon, you’ll come to a bench that overlooks the pond – a good place to take a short rest. The trail now moves away from the pond. After crossing a bridge over a stream, the trail climbs gently to reach a four-way intersection. Turn right to continue on the Lost Pond Trail, which now climbs rather steeply. As the grade moderates, a short unmarked side trail to the right leads to Scout Pond, with a blind for viewing wildlife.
At the next intersection, turn right onto the yellow-blazed Wood Thrush Trail, which climbs steadily, makes a switchback turn, and follows along a ridge. After reaching the highest point in the sanctuary (730 feet), marked by a bench, the trail bears left and begins to descend, passing a wetland to the right. Continuing to descend, the trail goes through a grove of large, stately trees. With Bechtel Lake in view ahead, the Wood Thrush Trail ends at a junction with the tan-blazed Easy Loop Trail. Continue ahead towards the lake, passing a huge tulip tree. A shelter at the lakeshore is a good spot to contemplate this pleasant lake.
Return to the Wood Thrush/Easy Loop Trail junction and turn left onto the Easy Loop Trail, which climbs away from the lake and soon passes through the remains of a white pine grove, with most trees having been destroyed by a series of storms. After passing a small cemetery to the right, the trail bears left and heads towards the sanctuary museum. The parking lot where the hike began is directly below.