Brewster to Mahopac, 9.7 miles
Brewster to Baldwin Place (Town of Somers), 12 miles
Baldwin Place (Town of Somers) to Croton Reservoir Bridge, 14 miles
Baldwin Place (Town of Somers) to Mt. Pleasant, 22 miles
Brewster to Mt. Pleasant (Putnam and North County trailways combined), 34 miles Paved
This paved pathway on the former Putnam Division of the New York Central Railroad (aka Old Put) takes you on an epic adventure, if you choose to accept it. As with any trail system, you can customize it to your heart’s content. Park in Brewster and follow the Putnam Trailway to Westchester’s North County Trailway, as we did. Or park in the middle at Baldwin Place (at the Somers Shopping Center) and head to either Putnam or Westchester, your choice. Yet another option is to start at one end and park a second car at the Eastview Park and Ride Lot off Neperhan Road in the Town of Mt. Pleasant and ride the full 34 miles, being extra careful at road crossings and sections where the trail hugs roadways. True diehards also pick up the 14-mile-long South County Trailway (beware: there are gaps in the connections, see the map), with a terminus at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, where it is referred to as the Old Putnam Trail and is unpaved. What a journey!
We started at the Brewster station (check out the MTA page on traveling with bikes: http://web.mta.info/bike). Highly recommended detour: Stray a few blocks from the station down Main Street to hit the Country Kitchen, where pancakes come with vanilla butter, the corned beef hash is homemade, and cornbread casserole is served in cute little cups.
Thus fortified, return to the trail at 141 Putnam Avenue. Continue through pretty countryside and forest. You’ll actually cross the Middle Branch Reservoir at one point, wending through Carmel. Along the way, stop and explore the marsh and woods trails of 163-acre Fred Dill Wildlife Sanctuary. You’ll see a pavilion and pond right off the trailway.
Carmel is a diner’s oasis. Millie’s Café customers (including the Westchester Cycle Club) swear by the Bliss (little French toast pyramids pan-tossed with butter and sugar) and seasonal homemade soups, which you can enjoy on a patio overlooking Lake Gleneida. The café also has a free bike repair station, though you could also ring up Village Bikes. For a spicier experience, try Curry House.
With the sun overhead, you’ll be happy to disappear into the forest. Continue south through mixed hardwood forest, pass picturesque Lake Casse, and enter Mahopac, where you could pop in at the Freight House Café, a railroad-themed hangout with free WiFi.
Baldwin Place is where the Putnam and the North County trailways meet. Just off the North County Trail is the Somers Commons Shopping Center at Baldwin Place. Businesses here include Cold Stone Creamery and Somers Bagels, which has wonderful chocolate croissants that sell out fast.
As you head farther into Westchester, historic markers at old station stops give you the lay of the land. After a little more than five miles, you’ll come to Yorktown Heights, where you can view a preserved 1880s station house (which is on the National Register of Historic Places) at Railroad Park. The park has picnic tables, a playground, and basketball court, too. Minutes away is the Trailside Café, a breakfast/lunch spot with outside dining.
Follow the Trailway south almost four miles to the Croton Reservoir Bridge and enjoy the beautiful view.
If you parked in Brewster, it’s time to turn around and cap off the day with an early-evening meal at Southeast Grille House, known for its tasty beef teriyaki, pan-roasted salmon, and grilled shrimp salads.
Fred Dill Wildlife Sanctuary
The Freight House Café
Somers Commons Shopping Center
Southeast Grille House