Putnam Valley, NY

Putnam Valley’s Town Park offers a short nature trail that is ideal for the beginning hiker.  It is short, well-marked, relatively flat and never strays too far from civilization.

Also known as Leonard Wagner Memorial Park, Putnam Valley’s town park is located just off Oscawana Lake Road in the southwestern corner of Putnam County, a little over a mile north of the Westchester border.

The park itself is chock full of things to do.  Though most public parks seem to be geared towards the 10 and under crowd, Leonard Wagner Park has activities for all ages – volleyball pits, tennis courts, basketball courts, horseshoe pits, baseball diamonds, a soccer field, a roller-skating rink, a large covered pavilion, an all-ages playground and a toddler playground.  Much of the park is illuminated at night.

Each area is fenced in.  While I am not a fan of chain-link fencing, the partitions do a good job of corralling the kids where you can keep an eye on them.  When we were there last weekend, there was a pretty good crowd with people of all ages enjoying the warm weather.

The nature trail was an Eagle Scout project for Putnam Valley Troop 41 scout Christopher Peri.  The trailhead is located on the left side of the entrance road toward the rear of the park.  There is a kiosk and trail map where the trail begins.  The trail is basically a large rectangle with a zig-zag just before the first corner.  Easily visible white paint markers on the trees mark the route to follow.

Follow the trail up the hill and along the road.  A layer of wood chips line the path at this point.  You will pass an old fire pit on the left hand side.  The town senior center will be visible on your right.  Once you are almost past the senior center, the trail will make a short zig-zag detour to the left.  Behind the senior center, the trail will turn to the right.

The woodchips end and you are now on a wide dirt path.  Off in the distance and down the hill, you can see a swampy body of water.  There were a few spur trails that seemed to lead down towards the water, but since we didn’t know the property lines (and we had a grumpy 7 year old with us who made it very clear he didn’t want to go on a nature walk) we didn’t explore them.

The trail leads a little closer to the water as it heads downhill.  I was hoping for a spur trail with an outlook point, but I couldn’t find one.

The trail leads back uphill and comes to a large intersection.  There is a posted sign that warns you not to go straight.  The trail turns to the right and heads a little more uphill.  A short distance later the trail will come out of the woods behind right field of one of the baseball diamonds.  Follow the dirt road along the side of the field and make a right after home plate to take the road back to the trailhead kiosk.

While this trial may not impress the seasoned hiker looking for the adventure that some other Putnam County trails may offer, it does offer families a short excursion through the woods either before or after some family time at a local park.

For more info, visit www.pvpr.com or call the Putnam Valley Parks and Recreation Department at 845/526-3292.  There is also a dog park on the grounds.