Blue Mountain Reservation | Peekskill, New York
Located just a few blocks from downtown Peekskill, minutes from the Hudson River, is Blue Mountain Reservation — an area of rolling valleys, rocky outcroppings and densely wooded hills. If coming from New York City, the trip combines a pleasant ride on the Hudson-hugging Metro-North, with some rewarding low-intensity hikes.
Blue Mountain Reservation
At more than 1,500 acres, Blue Mountain Reservation is one of Westchester’s largest, and most beautiful, parks. The reservation’s most prominent features is its developed forest of deciduous maple, oak and beech trees. In this environment, where the woods are well established, and the understory is relatively open, views open up along the forest floor providing lines of sight both down and across the rolling, rock-strewn, valleys. In the northern section of Blue Mountain Reservation visitors will find freshwater bogs and ponds alive with bull frogs, enumerable turtles and maybe even a few snakes.
Hike Highlights for Blue Mountain Reservation
With its more than 20 miles of trail, Blue Mountain Reservation is a great destination for day hikers. The park’s best known thoroughfare is the Briancliff-Peekskill Trail, a 12-mile path that begins in the Town of Ossining and makes its way north to the Blue Mountain Reservation for its last few miles. Once in the park, the Briarcliff-Peekskill Trail traces the dividing line between the reservation and an active shooting range. If you’re in the southern part of the park you’ll likely hear the sound of various caliber weapons being discharged. Looking for a bit of solitude? The echoes of the range dissipate once beyond the Montrose Station Road—a broad, gravel path that runs east-west through the park’s mid section. But before beelining it north, take the detour to Mount Spitzenberg, a 400-foot outcropping of craggy stone that provides limited views of the Hudson River. While there, check out the depression-era fire tower that was built close to its peak.
Blue Mountain Reservation is also home to an established mountain biking center. Managed through a partnership of the Westchester Department of Parks and the Westchester Mountain Bike Association, the Blue Mountain Reservation is a popular haunt for backcountry riders of all skill level. And while the trails can be busy on the weekends, the riders are courteous and rules regarding right of way are conspicuously posted. Some sections of the park, like the area around Blue Mountain—the park’s highest point and namesake—are off-limits to cyclists. This makes the area around Blue Mountain the park’s most tranquil section. To reach the peak you’ll have to ascend an area of loose rock and leaves, but it’ll flatten out soon enough. While there are no views to speak of from the top, the tree-covered peak is quiet and pleasant. If you’re after views, turn left, or northwest, just before ascending to the peak. From this rocky promontory, just a minute from the trail, you’ll be provided with views of the surrounding woodlands and the Hudson Highlands to the north.
While backcountry camping is not permitted, Blue Mountain Lodge is available for group stays. Typically rented by community groups and scout troops, the lodge is basic, but priced right. At $200-$250/night it’s a good option for cost-conscious parties exploring the area. For more information call: 914-862-5275.
Getting to Blue Mountain Reservation
Blue Mountain Reservation is easily accessible from the Metro-North train station at Peekskill. From the station stop, walk east along Hudson Avenue for one-half mile then take a right onto Washington Street. From here it’s another 15 minutes to Lounsbury Lane—the entrance to Blue Mountain Reservation. You’ll know you’ve reached the park when the sidewalk along Washington Avenue abruptly ends. Look to your left and you’ll spot the gatehouse, which is where you’ll be able to pick up a tri-fold map of the park. Roundtrip, off peak, tickets to Peekskill from Grand Central Terminal cost $23.50.