The Tarrytown Lakes Park—Get Out and Explore It!

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by Catherine Ruhland – 

Tarrytown’s Lakes are developing into an increasingly exciting venue for aquatic and terrestrial recreation by area residents.

The village created the Tarrytown Lakes in 1887 as drinking water reservoirs for Tarrytown.  As Tarrytown villagers required more water than the lakes provided, they were decommissioned as a drinking water source in 1993. Now this area, together with the 60 acres surrounding it, comprise the Tarrytown Lakes Park—almost 5% of the acreage of Tarrytown. Within the park are not just the two beautiful lakes where resident kayaking and fishing are allowed (both by village permit), but also another pretty “park within a park”—Wilson Park, at the top of Beech Lane and to the east of Wilson Park Drive, just south of Warner Lane. There are walking and biking trails as well as historic structures and beautiful lookouts here and there.

Wilson Park has a collection of magnificent trees from all over the world and vistas of the Hudson River, especially in the winter and early spring. There is a walking path along its ridge, and access to the main Tarrytown Lakes Trail at two spots on the eastern side of the park. Wilson Park is a quiet place that offers lovely sledding and cross-country skiing terrain in winter.

The gravel-covered trail known as the Tarrytown Lakes Trail is on what was once the railroad bed of the Putnam Division of the New York Central Railroad. It is wide and sturdy enough for biking and hiking, and leads to six smaller marked woodland trails that meander through forest, with frequent views of the lakes. The bird-watching in this area is exquisite. The main Tarrytown Lakes Trail terminates at a trail called the Andre Brook Trail, which turns west, crosses Wilson Park Drive (near Tower Hill/County House Road) and leads down a ravine to the Sleepy Hollow High School parking lot. Once the final section is built, it will be possible to walk all the way from the Neperan Road-Tarrytown Lakes parking lot to the Old Croton Aqueduct.

Opposite the Neperan Road-Tarrytown Lakes parking lot is the entrance to a paved trail, owned by the County of Westchester, which leads to the North/South County Trailways. Both the paved trail and the Tarrytown Lakes Trail are ideal for cycling, especially since they connect to other long biking trails. A valuable website for trail information (including quality of surface) is MyTarrytown.com.

The beloved skate shack, at the southern end of the upper lake, which was built as a warming hut for skaters in the 1940’s or 50’s (if you know the date, please contact the writer), was recently removed for safety reasons. The cozy deck that was attached to the warming hut will be replaced over the next year or two so that villagers can once again contemplate the beauty of the lakes from this lakeside vantage point. If the winter is cold enough and conditions permit, the village intends to clear the ice and allow skating.

The Eastview Pumping Station (“pumphouse”) stands on the eastern-most point of Tarrytown. It still houses filters and pumps that were used until 1993 to clean and move the village’s drinking water. Today Tarrytown relies solely on the New York City Catskill and Croton Aqueducts for its drinking water, so there is no chance that the old pumphouse will ever be used for that purpose again. The village is contemplating the next step as the building continues to deteriorate. Next to the pumphouse, for those who don’t have their own village-permitted kayaks, a kayak rental company offers their kayaks every weekend and on some holidays through October 8 (Columbus Day).

So, please go out and explore the Tarrytown Lakes Park, an underutilized Tarrytown amenity!

(This is the first in a series of articles by Catherine Ruhland, Chair of the Tarrytown Lakes Committee.)

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