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...
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.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 04/07/2006 updated/verified on 05/01/2014
This loop hike circles the sanctuary, passing fascinating rock formations, many old stone walls and several small ponds.
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
Plan Ahead and Prepare
- 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.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
- 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.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
- 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.