Take a Winter Hike Along the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail

The Croton Dam in the 1840s. Lithograph by G. Hayward via Library of Congress

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    Don’t let the winter weather keep you inside when there are still places to explore.

    You can combine a little New York history with your exercise by exploring the more than 20 miles of trails that make up the Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park, which runs from Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx to the Croton Dam in Cortlandt.

    New York City was already running out of fresh water by the 1830s and the answer came with the creation of the aqueduct and a dam to bring water from the Croton River to the city. By the 1840s water was flowing into the city and it did so until the 1960s. In 1968, the Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park was created, including miles of tree-covered trails winding past historic scenic views and features of the historic system.

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    Photo by Susan De Vries

    If you want to explore the trail with a group and learn from an expert, you can join in on a hike with the Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct. They’re taking a two-mile trek in February, walking along the Aqueduct and the Croton Dam. The hike is described as “easy,” but it’s probably still recommended to wear sturdy shoes and appropriate winter gear.

    The walk takes place on Saturday, February 9 with a start time of 10 a.m. Join the group at the parking lot for Croton Gorge Park, which is about a 15-minute taxi ride from the MetroNorth station at Croton-Harmon. For more information on this and other hikes visit the Friends of the Croton Aqueduct events page.

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    The Keeper’s House. Photo by Susan De Vries

    If the hike whets your appetite for more Aqueduct history, you can visit the Keeper’s House Visitor and Education Center in Dobb’s Ferry. Originally constructed in 1857 as the home of the principal superintendent for the Aqueduct, it served as a residence until 1962. After years of efforts, the house was restored and opened to the public in 2016.

    The house, located at 15 Walnut Street in Dobbs Ferry, is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. At the house, you can check out rotating exhibits and pick up a trail map. If you visit before February 4, you can catch an exhibition of early engineering plans and drawings for the water system. For more information check out the Keeper’s House info page.

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