Westchester County’s Outdoor Recreation Options
Hiking and biking trails, beaches, fishing spots, and more abound in Westchester County.
Resting on the edge of the Hudson River Valley and Long Island Sound, Westchester County is perfectly positioned for plenty of outdoor recreation that the entire family can enjoy.
Some of the best hiking and walking trails on the east side of the Hudson weave through the county. Breathtaking scenery is found everywhere from the Bronx River Pathway to the North and South County Trailways. A 51.5-mile RiverWalk trailway and revitalized 7.5-acre waterfront park are a joint effort of Westchester County and the Village of Dobbs Ferry. Along the way are linkages to recreational, cultural and historic resources along the Hudson River. Thirty-three miles of the RiverWalk trailway have already been incorporated, and nearly half of the route, which spans 14 municipalities, is directly along the river’s shore.
Westchester parks also contain ample mountain biking trails. Blue Mountain, Spain Ridge and Graham Hills are some of the most notable bike trails in the county, with the latter recommended for the most experienced bikers.
The county is also known for its extensive, year-round fishing opportunities. Fishing is permitted in all of the county parks, with the exception of nature reserves. There is also a section of the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Lewisboro that allows fly-fishing during the season. In the winter months, several lakes offer ice fishing, so long as the conditions are deemed safe and the area is not designated for skating. All fishing in Westchester requires a New York fishing license, which can be obtained by contacting the county clerk or the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Six county-operated golf courses in Westchester offer everything from leisurely courses lined with maple trees to narrow fairways and tricky water hazards. Golf course architect Tom Winton designed and built three of the six courses in Westchester. The Pete Dye-designed Pound Ridge Golf Club was named GOLF Magazine’s No. 1 “U.S. Open-Worthy Public Course” in 2012.
With beaches along Long Island Sound and the Hudson River, Westchester features plenty of lounging space for sand lovers.
Horseback riders congregate at Twin Lakes Park, home to two equestrian facilities, and explore trails at Twin Lakes Park/Nature Study Woods, Blue Mountain Reservation and Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.
Playland is home to more than 50 amusement park rides, a beach and a boardwalk. History, agriculture and art co-mingle at Muscoot Farm, a functioning dairy farm from 1880-1967. Visitors can tour the grounds, hike and explore. The Main House is used as a showroom displaying the work of one local artist each month.
Other farms also have pick-your-own fruits and vegetables.
A hotbed of professional sports, Westchester residents cheer on some of the country’s most exciting franchises – baseball’s Yankees and Mets, ice hockey’s Rangers, football’s Giants and Jets, and basketball’s Knicks, to name a few. The county also offers other spectator opportunities, ranging from horse racing to professional soccer, and the Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway blends the excitement of live harness racing with simulcast racing and casino games.
For those who prefer to be part of the action rather than spectators, Westchester offers a wide range of adult programs – everything from tennis and softball in New Rochelle to rifle, pistol, skeet and archery opportunities at The Sportsman Center at Blue Mountain Reservation.
Along with all of the outdoor facilities, several indoor attractions are just as exhilarating. Recreational opportunities include 13,000 square feet of climbing space at The Cliffs, kart racing at Grand Prix New York and glow-in-the-dark bowling inside FunFuzion at New Roc City.
Westchester Parks Kick Off Their Second Half-Century
In 2012, Westchester celebrated an important anniversary: 50 years earlier, the county’s Parks Commission merged with the Recreation Commission to form what is now the Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation. The department celebrated the anniversary with a year-long calendar of special events, including craft fairs, cultural festivals and discount days.
The county park system also happens to include more than 50 parks and recreation areas spanning nearly 18,000 acres. Destinations range from the Kensico Dam Plaza, site of a moving September 11th Memorial called “The Rising,” to the crescent-shaped beach at Glen Island Park.
Visiting many Westchester County park properties requires a pass that can be purchased through the parks department and at other locations year-round.
• During winter months, the 85-acre lake at the Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary in Rye often hosts more than 5,000 ducks.
• The 508-acre Croton Point Park, popular for hiking, swimming and camping, is the site of historic wine cellars thought to be the oldest in New York State.