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Cortlandt Preserve & Trail - Spread the Word!

Wander through forested areas, stumble across small foot bridges, and traipse through a rolling meadow path strewn with wildflowers on a perfect family-friendly trail. This hike has it all and it’s less than a mile long!

March down onto the woodchip-covered trail

I’m very excited to share this hike with local folks because not only is it new, but it is also secret. As of today, it is not listed on the Town of Cortlandt Parks site or listed on Google Maps. The first two people I spoke with at the Town Hall had never even heard of it. But the Recreation Department, kindly followed up after some investigation and said that the Preserve Trail is maintained by the town and not the Valeria condos, as I had started to suspect. It first opened in 2019.


Access

Even if you drive down Furnace Dock Road all of the time, the trail is fairly sheltered from view. I only discovered it this spring when I was biking past because a sign was put up- but even the sign is somewhat hidden right now. Enter the small parking lot across from the Valeria condominium complex and just before the entrance to Sniffen Mountain Road if you’re approaching from the South. It’s very easy to drive right past. Unless you live in the Valeria Condominiums, you may have not noticed it. A true hidden gem!

Town of Cortlandt Preserve Trail
Sign is slightly obscured by the brush

Small parking lot

Terrain

From the parking lot, head onto the wood chip-covered trail and explore. In mid-late July, our family always hikes with containers for picking trailside wild berries - and there are plenty to go around along this trail! If you’re hiking in the early spring or after rain, some sections of the trail may be muddy. This was the case on our first excursion but the kids enjoyed the process of side-stepping the puddles and balancing on the sticks and tree trunks that had been helpfully put across the puddles for this purpose. (Only one out of three of my kids predictably fell face first into a mud puddle. In his new shoes, of course.)

This trail appears to intersect with a few others along the way – perhaps the Peekskill-Briarcliff Trailway – but I’m not entirely certain. The entire path is a horseshoe that leads back around to Furnace Dock Rd, further south of the parking lot, just shy of the Valeria complex. I will update this post with the mileage next time we hike here. Our crew with two 3-year-olds and one five-year-old can go down and back with minimal complaining or requests for being carried.


Limitations

None, except for the muddy sections following wet weather.

 

Artist Notes

The other day, I ventured out onto the trail alone in order to satisfy my goal of plein air painting at least once per week. I attempted another set of "quickies" as described in my prior blog post. I sketched a few subjects that I could see from one point on the trail, set my timer for 60 minutes and got to work! Although I do feel my paintings look rather rushed (and I still felt very flustered during the process) I think I was slightly more successful with capturing the light this time.

plein air paintings watercolor
8/6 quick plein air sketches

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