Hiking: Sylvan Glen Park Preserve | Mohegan Lake, NY (Westchester)

The view from the top of
the High Quarry
Sylvan Glen Park Preserve is located in northern Westchester County, not far from the Taconic State Parkway and is part of the Yorktown Parks System. Its 300+ acres of preserved land protect a number of old granite quarries that make for some great walking destinations.  None of the trails are too long or difficult in the park, but there are about 5 miles of potential trips and with quarries, a huge oak tree and some nice vistas, it is worth a visit if you are in the area and looking to get out and get some fresh air.

Getting There

For the Morris Lane Parking Area: From the Taconic Parkway, take the exit for US 202/NY 35 (Yorktown Heights) and then turn west at the bottom of the ramp onto US 202/NY 35 (Crompond Road). Continue on this road for 1.8 miles and turn right at a traffic light onto Lexington Avenue. In 0.5 mile, turn right onto Morris Lane and head downhill. It is 0.2 mile to the parking area at the bottom of the hill.

For the Deer Street Parking Area: From the Taconic, take the exit for Bear Mountain Parkway (Yorktown Heights) and turn north on Stony Street. At the top of the hill watch for an unmarked gravel driveway on the left (opposite 2820 Stony St and shortly before reaching Winding Court).

Hiking Trail Network

Trails are well built and
maintained throughout
the park
With just over five miles of trails in the park, you can make a number of different loops of varying length.  On my visit I traveled from the Morris Lane Trailhead, to the Quarry Oak, then up to the High Quarry, through the old farm and finally out to the Deer Street Trailhead, a distance of about 3.8 miles which could easily be done in less than two hours, though it was a hot day on our visit and I took time to explore the quarries and check out the giant oak, so we ended up spending a little over 2 hours on our hike through the park.  A hiking trail map is available for the park from the Trail Conference.

Hiking Sylvan Glen

I'd never hiked in Westchester County before and for those of us who grew up in New York, most of us probably don't expect there to be many great hiking opportunities in this generally metropolitan county not that far north of New York City.  Well, I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised.  Being only a few miles from the Taconic and the hustle and bustle of nearby villages and towns, when you are out in the Sylvan Glen Preserve, you have a relatively quiet and natural experience.  There's little traffic noise in most areas and besides a few views of development near the trailheads, you are in the woods the entire time.

The trail from Morris Lane is well maintained and easy to follow.  After hiking for a bit, you cross a pipeline clearing that traverses the park, cross a small stream and then come up to the area where many of the major quarrying operations worked from.  There are remnants of old buildings, cut blocks of granite looking like they are just waiting to be picked up, along with tools, wires and other materials that were used to move the granite around.  It is really cool, as it seems like the operations just stopped and people walked away from it.  Now the forests are slowly reclaiming all the previous human development.

The Quarry Oak is one huge oak tree!
From the quarry operations area, we headed south towards the southern edge of the park, following the Sylvan Glen Trail to the Quarry Oak Trail.  The Quarry Oak Trail is a short trail that runs out to the Quarry Oak, which is one of the largest oak trees that you'll find in the area.  This tree is huge!

From the Oak, we started heading north on the Sylvan Glen Trail up to the High Quarry Trail.  That trail passes by one of the major quarries and as you climb the hill along the flanks of the quarry, you can look down into it seeing abandoned equipment and see how the granite was cut out of the side of the hill.  As you work your away around the top of quarry, you can see the old wire lines that helped lift and transport granite blocks.  Now they snake their way through the forest floor or have grown into the trees over time.  There's even a small railroad line that was used to carry the talus (unusable stone blocks) away from the quarry.

 

 

As you loop around the top of the quarry, there are a couple of openings in the forest that let you get a decent vista of the hills that surround this quarry.


After a bit more climbing after the quarry, the trail is generally level as you make your way through what had been old farm fields on the top of the hill.  The trail begins to descend slightly after you reach the crest of the hill and then reaches the trailhead on Deer Street.

I loved this hike.  I love the fact that it's tucked away in an area that most people would scoff out when you told them that they could take a decent hike here.  I broke a sweat plenty of times walking around and the chance to see so much history as you walk was really cool.  I love seeing the old Bluestone Quarries in the Catskills and this was an opportunity to see this sort of work in different areas (and from a different era).

While I do not think that people would travel far to visit Sylvan Glen, for residents of Westchester this park is a gem. Even for residents in the surrounding counties or visitors to Westchester, this park is well worth a few hours of your time.


For More Information About Hiking In Westchester County

While you might not think that there are many hiking opportunities in an suburban county like Westchester, there are actually a lot more parks and lands than you would expect.  Walkable Westchester, published by the Trail Conference provides information, directions and ideas for you to get out an explore all of these hiking resources in Westchester County.

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