This county park consists of 1,583 Acres. It’s mainly used by mountain bikers, but we had a terrifically exhausting time going up hills, down valleys, climbing granite boulders, glacial erratics and rock outcroppings. The air is clean and the view is beautiful. The wooded trails are surrounded by tiny lichen, ferns and woodland creatures. We saw small salamanders, frogs, squirrels, chipmunks and lots of birds. There was evidence of deer, but we didn’t come across any.
There are two mountains here, the Spitzenberg and Blue Mountain. A five-mile hiking loop includes both of them or you can modify the hike to include only one or neither. A lot of the trail is on wide wood roads, but there are narrow sections. There are also single track trails created by the mountain bikers. It is suggested to visit on a weekday if you are looking for solitude, since mountain biking is popular on the weekend. However, we visited off-season on the weekend and there were no mountain bikers on the hiking loop. (Check ahead to make sure there are no mountain bike races planned.)
The hiking elevation gradually ascends to 680′ for Blue Mountain and 540′ for Spitzenberg. Going off the main loop to go to the top of either of these is a challenging hike for a family, but doable. There are lots of loose rocks at an incline. Proper footwear is a must (hiking boots, work boots, or at least good sneakers). Your breathing may be labored with the change in elevation, so be prepared if you have any medical conditions that may be affected. Don’t forget a water bottle for each family member! If you make it to the top, your prize is the view (and in our case, a rest).
Their suggestion to print out a trail map is a really good one. When we visited, the park office wasn’t open. We didn’t pay to enter, but there were also no maps left outside. The trail markings are not accurate for several reasons (groups marking own trails, some trail markers missing). The trail colors on the map do not indicate the trail blaze (they indicate degree of difficulty), but the land features give you a good idea of where you are. Combining the map with the posted trail markers will get you around confidently.
The property was originally part of Van Cortlandt Manor purchased by Stephanus Van Cortlandt from local Native Americans in 1677. “It was acquired as a county park in 1926…. It features miles of trails for mountain biking, strolling and nature study…. Also located at the park is the Sportsman Center, a recreation facility offering target ranges. The Blue Mountain Trail Lodge is available for rental by groups and sleeps up to 30 people dormitory-style, and includes showers, a kitchen, and a dining hall with a large fireplace.” Visit: https://www.nynjtc.org/park/blue-mountain-reservation#park-direct-detail
The area was pretty remote when we visited. Our suggestion is to pack food and drinks (lunch and snacks, etc). We did find a diner nearby when we were heading back to the highway, but you may not be headed in the same direction. Hiking in the fresh air can really build an appetite especially if you have family members that like to climb all over the large rocks!
- Map: http://parks.westchestergov.com/images/stories/pdfs/BlueMountainMap05.pdf
- Dogs are welcome in the park on a leash with the condition that you are able to carry your dog over and up rocky terrain he can not traverse himself.
- A Westchester County Park Pass is not required for admission, but there is an entrance fee. Daily rate $5 (pass holder), $10 (non-pass holder), $1 (Seniors M-F) (914) 737-2194
- 435 Welcher Avenue, Peekskill, NY 10566
- Park Hours: Open seven days a week, 8 a.m. to dusk, year-round.
Family Adventure Rating ❤️❤️
Cost-This is a low cost adventure. A family of five can enter the park for $10 (non-pass holder) plus the cost of travel. Bring water and snacks for the hike. It’s remote. Save some money by packing a picnic lunch or you can factor in a stop at the nearby diner.
Parking & Transportation-There is plenty of parking at the park. There are lots and parking areas near trail heads. Driving by car is your best option. The Metro North Railroad does have a station in Peekskill, but you would have to investigate taxis or rideshares in the area to get you to the park.
Location– This location is pretty remote, but it is accessible from many different areas–Western Connecticut, Long Island, New York City, Northern New Jersey, and mainland New York. It’s remote location lends to its beauty.
Day Trip or Overnight– We would plan this as a day trip, but there are some hotels and a few bed and breakfasts in the area. Unfortunately, there is no camping at this park.
Experience– This was a great park to explore with some terrific outdoor exercise and beautiful views. We really enjoyed our hike and got a great workout.
Combination– If you plan well or know the area, you can combine this with some of the other interesting things to do in the area. Some ideas: Bear Mountain State Park, West Point, New Croton Dam, Van Cortland Manor, Brinton Brook Sanctuary, and more