It seems the most illogical place for a dump – a peninsula along the western side of Westchester County sticking out into the mighty Hudson, but that is exactly what Croton Point Park was at one time. In our time it is prime real estate, but somewhere in history it apparently wasn’t.
It wasn’t just a landfill. In fact, there is evidence that Native Americans inhabited Croton Point 7,000 years ago. Since then it has played a role in the American Revolution, been home to brickyards and wineries, and was a profitable fishing area. Finally in 1923, it opened to the public (at least partially) as a park.
To get there from Brewster it takes about 40 minutes, so you may want to go when you know you can spend a few hours there. The quickest way to get there is to take 684 south to exit 6 for Katonah. Turn right at the top of the ramp onto Route 35 and go 1.5 miles. At the traffic light, make a left onto Route 100 and go 6 miles. Make a right onto Route 134 and go 5 miles. Turn right onto 9A heading north. At 1.2 miles, 9A will merge with Route 9. Continue north for another .9 miles and take the Croton Point Ave/Croton Harmon Station exit. Make a left at the end of the ramp onto Croton Point Avenue. You will pass over Route 9/9A and a large train yard. It will not feel like you are anywhere near a 508 acre waterfront park, but within half a mile of making the last left, the terrain will change.
The large grass-covered mound on the left as you drive in to the park is the old landfill. The road to the right just after the park office leads to a high plateau with campsites and a pavilion. If you continue straight past the park office, you will pass a beach on the right hand side before reaching the main parking area.
There is a large, round pavilion between the parking area and the river. There is a large open area along the water with wide views up and down the river. It makes a nice spot for a picnic so remember to pack a lunch.
A short walk to the north brings you to a Nature Center that sits on a piece of land called Enoch’s Nose. There are a few small wooded trails near the nature center. If you head towards the southern end of the park, you will find RV and tent camping sites, an old school house, old wine cellars and more trails.
With about 4 miles of waterfront, Croton Point Park offers some great river views. I haven’t done it yet, but I would like to walk around the shoreline of the entire park. Using Google Maps, it looks like a good portion of the shoreline is sandy and/or rocky, making for an easy-to-follow path.
There are at least two playgrounds for the kids, and bathrooms are strategically located around the more populated areas of the park. While the beach certainly seems appealing in the summer, the fall is a beautiful time to visit this park. The park hosts a number of group events. In fact, this October will be my third year in a row attending a scouting event with my family, and we all look forward to it.
Croton Point Park is owned by Westchester County. Additional info, including a trail map and a more complete history of the property, is available at www.westchestergov.com. The park office number is 914/862-5290. You do not need to be a resident of Westchester, but if you are not a senior citizen it will run you about $8 to park. Dogs are allowed on a leash.