Happy Winter Trails:
According to the forecast issued by the Old Farmer’s Almanac (OFA) for this part of the Northeast, “winter will be colder and snowier than normal in the north…
By Paul Hicks
According to the forecast issued by the Old Farmer’s Almanac (OFA) for this part of the Northeast, “winter will be colder and snowier than normal in the north…The coldest period will be in mid-January, with cold weather also occurring in late December, most of January, mid-February, and early March. Precipitation will be slightly above normal, with the snowiest periods in mid- and late December, early to mid-January, and late March.”
Many forecasters, however, are predicting that the current El Nino system will make for a warmer winter in the Northeast, and as one newspaper commented, the OFA’s forecast “is to meteorology what astrology is to astronomy.” The best advice is to get outdoors and go walking while the warmer weather lasts and add layers when it gets colder.
Here are some of my longtime favorite places for winter walks, plus one great rediscovery.
>Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary is a 179-acre Westchester County preserve that is located on Long Island Sound adjacent to Playland. It includes a large lake, which in the winter months is home to thousands of ducks, a reason to go there even if you are not a bird watcher. There are three miles of trails for walks along the lake, through woods and fields, as well as on the shore. For the easiest access and other benefits, go to friendsofreadwildlifesanctuary.org.
>Marshlands Conservancy is a 147-acre County wildlife sanctuary, whose diverse habitats include forest, meadow, salt marsh, and shore. There are three miles of trails and one-half mile of shoreline along Milton Harbor and Long Island Sound. Plan your walk there to include a visit to the adjacent Jay Heritage Center where you can learn about the history and conservation of Marshlands. Go to parks.westchestergov.com/marshlands conservancy.
>Greenwich (Tod’s) Point in Old Greenwich is another great place for winter walking, with or without a dog. From November to May, this popular Greenwich Town beach and the surrounding 147-acre park are open to non-residents without charge, and, from December 1 through March 31, you can bring a dog. A network of trails runs along the coastline and weaves among the marshes, woods and groves. For directions and more, go to friendsofgreenwichpoint.org.
>Rockefeller State Park Preserve in Pocantico Hills has an extensive network of wide trails that were originally laid out as carriage roads, some of which run across private land that is still owned by the Rockefeller family. They are open for use by walkers, joggers, horseback riders, and carriage drivers. Friends of the Rockefeller State Park Preserve have included a useful map of the preserve and directions on their website, friendsrock.org.
>Rye Town Park is one of several convenient options for a short walk, with or without a dog. You can extend your exercise and views of Long Island Sound by connecting onto the boardwalk or beach at Playland. The Friends of Rye Town Park website is friendsofrtp.org.
>Rye Nature Center encourages everyone to “bring the family to the Center and walk our Turtle, Rabbit, Deer, Rock, Dragonfly, and Tree Trails. We also have a new Storybook Trail starting at the playground.” See their website, ryenaturecenter.org, for membership information and a downloadable map.
>Crawford Park, which is managed by the Town of Rye, is another good choice for easy walking. It is on Ridge Street in Rye Brook and has paved paths that connect to the adjoining Rye Hills Park. It also has a Friends organization, whose website is friendsofcrawfordpark.org.
>Otter Creek Preserve, which I recently rediscovered after a hiatus of many years, is a 35-acre property located near the Long Island Sound coastline in the Rye Neck section of Mamaroneck. It had been owned since 1974 by The Nature Conservancy, but was transferred to the Westchester Land Trust in April 2015. There is a looped trail, approximately ¾ of a mile in length, which starts next to the marshland, where there is a seasonally active Osprey nesting platform. Walkers (leashed dogs are allowed) can enjoy views of coastal waters, marsh, wooded uplands, and edge habitats. The area is an important site for migratory birds and home to a great deal of wildlife.
Most of the open space protected by the Westchester Land Trust (WLT) is in the northern part of the county, which makes their acquisition of the Otter Creek Preserve especially valuable to residents of this area. Those who visit there will notice that the trails are named in memory of Roger Perry, an ardent conservationist and longtime resident of Rye, thanks to a generous gift by his family. For directions and other information about the preserve and the WLT, go to westchesterlandtrust.org.