Saxon Woods is a 700-acre park in the heart of Westchester County. Although the park is surrounded by development and bordered by several major highways, it offers the opportunity for a pleasant walk through attractive woods with rock outcrops along the way. The trails in the southern section of the park (which largely follow woods roads) are not officially blazed, although you will encounter...
Saxon Woods is a 700-acre park in the heart of Westchester County. Although the park is surrounded by development and bordered by several major highways, it offers the opportunity for a pleasant walk through attractive woods with rock outcrops along the way. The trails in the southern section of the park (which largely follow woods roads) are not officially blazed, although you will encounter some old orange and white paint blazes along the route of the hike. (The route of the hike is shown as "Loop 1" on the park map that is available online.)
From the parking area, walk back down the entrance road. Just before reaching the bridge over the western branch of the Mamaroneck River, turn right on a gravel road blocked off with a cable barrier. Follow this road as it heads southwest, parallel to the Mamaroneck River. Unfortunately, you can hear the sounds of the traffic on Mamaroneck Avenue (on the other side of the river), although this busy road is largely shielded from view by the trees.
In 0.4 mile, you'll reach a Y-intersection. Here, you should bear left and cross a stone-faced bridge, with the wide river visible through the trees on the left. The road you are following now becomes somewhat rougher. In another 0.4 mile, you'll pass a wetland to the left. Just beyond, the road curves to the right and passes between two huge boulders. By now, the trail has moved away from the road, and the noise of the traffic can barely be heard.
A short distance beyond, just before reaching a boulder on the right side of the trail, you'll notice a tree with a double orange blaze. Turn left onto a narrower path, cross a small stream on rocks, and follow a woods road gently uphill. Near the top of the climb, you'll pass a split boulder to the left. The path now narrows to a trail, with houses visible to the left.
After passing small ponds, first to the right, then to the left, the trail once again approaches busy Mamaroneck Avenue. It descends slightly, passes a modern brick house, and bears right, heading uphill. The trail once more widens to a woods road, and some old white blazes begin to appear along the route.
About a mile and a half from the start of the hike, you'll cross a stone-faced bridge over a stream and reach a T-intersection. Here, you should turn left. After passing some interesting rock formations on the right, you'll encounter a huge blowdown that blocks the trail. Follow a footpath to the right that skirts the fallen tree and returns to the woods road that you've been following.
Just past two unmarked trails that lead to the left, you'll reach an abandoned stone building. Stay to the right and continue ahead on the woods road that you have been following. Houses are soon visible through the trees to the left. You're now heading northeast, parallel to the route that you followed at the start of the hike, but further uphill.
After crossing a bridge (with wooden railings) over a stream, you'll reach a junction with a woods road that leaves to the right. Continue straight ahead, uphill. Soon, you'll pass a pond to the left and come to a picnic area. Just beyond, a paved path to the right descends to the parking area where the hike began.
This loop hike is a pleasant stroll on woods roads in the southern section of this Westchester County Park.
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.