If you're up for an ultra-long run, you can make the 41-mile trek from Central Park up to Dobbs Ferry in Westchester, or you can just hop on for a short jaunt at many points on the trail. It's a rad way to explore the city—and get out of it!
For a long run along the Hudson, exploring the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail can be a great way to spend a day. It’s a rail trail, so nothing technical, but largely off-road, for those who aren’t fans of running on the road.
What Makes It Great
It’s actually perfect for marathon prep or ultra-marathon prep, since from Yonkers to Cortlandt on the trail measures 26.2 miles. For those of you unfamiliar with aqueducts, it’s actually an old enclosed masonry structure designed to provide water to NYC. It was built in 1842 and obviously not in use anymore—instead, it’s a historic landmark and a stretch of park rising up through Westchester. About every mile, you’ll notice a stone tower of some type rising up near the path—they were originally in place to provide air flow to the water below.
The trail runs along Route 9/Broadway, and with plenty of other runners and walkers out, it’s rarely lonely. Even better, since you’re running through towns, stopping to grab food and water is a snap. There are 90 road crossings in the 26 miles, and six designated parking areas, plus plenty of street parking just about anywhere on the route.
In fact, if you do manage to do the round-trip, you’ll probably be ready for an awesome meal, and a mile from the trailhead in Dobbs Ferry (going south Broadway to Hastings-on-Hudson) is a small town that time forgot, complete with a 5-and-10 for assorted “everything” as well as a few kitschy shops. But the best part is the Hastings Center Diner, which has some of the best blueberry pancakes I’ve ever tasted, and coffee that far surpasses standard diner quality. It’s the perfect spot for a post-run meal without costing a fortune.
The entirety of the trail is roughly 26 miles, from Yonkers up to Croton Dam, but I prefer the roughly 10 mile round-trip from Dobbs Ferry to Tarrytown, primarily because between the sights along the way and the huge selection of awesome food available post-ride in Dobbs Ferry, it makes for a great day. The trail is seldom over-run with people, but there are enough to not feel lonely, and while the path can occasionally be hard to spot (there are road crossings occasionally, so be careful), it’s a simple, straightforward route overall.
Who is Going to Love It
All of the trails feature gorgeous views of the Hudson, and it’s a really nice way to get in epic miles while avoiding pavement or particularly technical terrain. As you go through, you’ll pass through several parks along the way, and the end of the trail is really just the beginning, since it ends at the start of the Briarcliff-Peeksill Trailway. Those craving big miles, you’re in luck.
It’s a great easy ride on a mountain bike or cyclocross bike as well, for those of you interested in some cross training. Depending on where you want to begin, take the Metro-North Railroad to your station of choice (I like Dobbs Ferry, but you can also go to Ossining, Scarborough, Tarrytown, Irvington, Ardsley-on-Hudson, Hastings, Greystone, Glenwood or Yonkers) and you’ll be just minutes away.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
To start from the very bottom, take the train to Yonkers and go up Ashburton Avenue and make a left onto Route 9, which dovetails with the trailhead there.