I love the NYC Park Department. It sometimes does stupid things. Here’s one.

It’s not a lot, but there’s a nice trail loop in Van Cortlandt. Not the XC course, which is too severe for a trail run. It’s a combination of two trails, the Old Croton Aqueduct and the Putnam Trailway, which I wrote about on Westchester Trails. A few years back, Westchester paved the portion of the Putnam Trailway in the County, and much of the paving was on a stretch that was in bad shape. There are a couple of breaks, but it not takes one all the way to Northern Westchester and is quite nice.

In the Bronx, it has remained unpaved. A former railroad bed, there are occasional ties. It is quite pleasant, running between parts of the Van Cortlandt golf course for a spell and ending just east of the parade grounds (the flats) of VCP. Parks wants to pave it. You can get info here.

The SaveThePutnamTrail.com folks have a petition going. I’ve decided to sign it. I was a bit ambivalent, but thought of it, and as I commented on LRC.

The Putnam Trail was part of the Putnam Railway, which is long gone. It continues north into Westchester. While the southern part in Westchester was unpaved, it was in bad shape and a few years back Westchester paved it to the City border. It then connects into northern Westchester (with a few breaks). The Bronx part is a nice trail, with the occasional railroad tie. It made a nice loop with the Old Croton Aqueduct trail, which is on the far eastern part of Van Cortlandt and continues also to Northern Westchester, also with a few breaks. It is completely independent of the Putnam Trail and in Yonkers turns west (in a non-trail stretch) and runs pretty close to the Hudson all the way up (and is the most popular way to get into the Rockies).

VCTC used to (it may still) do a loop up the OCA, through Tibbets Brook and south on the Putnam Trail back to VCP. (Parks money could be well used in repairing the (now closed) stairs up to the OCA by the Deegan.)

The only upside of paving is that road bikes could use it (while I see that some people think road bikes can handle a non-paved surface I wouldn’t) to get to Westchester. Trail bikes don’t need paving. Are roadies enough of a constituency to make it worth eliminating one of the few trails in the area (and I do not count the VCP XC course as a useful “trail” in this context because it is much more aggressive than what I think of as a trail)? Sadly this trail is now pretty short and while you can connect it with the OCA without hitting the paved Westchester stretch, that’s a bit of a hassle. But even with the paved Westchester stretch, it’s quite nice. So I’m signing.

As to the roadies, I would never ride my road bike on one of these paths. Too much stuff going on. Head up Broadway or Van Cortlandt South to VC East. 

I would think, though, that roadies are not the issue. It’s families using it as a gateway north. But there’s no reason why people can’t stroll up a trail. One would think that’s a good thing. The point being that it’s not just another paved-paradise.

Some history

Here’s one of several videos: