Explore the Putnam Trail

Far from being “abandoned,” the Putnam Trail in Van Cortlandt Park is walked, cycled, jogged, birded.  Families, school classes, senior citizens, fishermen and cyclists use it. The 1.5 mile Trail is a narrow corridor surrounded by trees, flowers, and birds, and is a rural utopia in the heart of the city. These special areas have laws and regulations protecting them for a reason, and they are still dwindling. The trail runs through one of the largest freshwater wetlands in the city (56-plus acres) and Forever Wild Preserves. Using bioremediation, and other natural processes appropriate for a natural area, the Trail could be a model for best practices i protecting nature in urban settings. The city is 72% hardscape.

The portion of the Putnam Trail in VCP that’s going to be “improved” starts at the golf house and extends to the Yonkers border. The rail line north of the park is paved for 40-50 miles.  Pavers say they need more asphalt and there’s not enough in VCP. But with 3-4 parkways in Van Cortlandt Park, that span 4 to 12 lanes wide, paved golf paths, paved East Coast Greenway, that would not be the case. In fact more asphalt in the park would be a “net add” to the city’s plentiful supply that the city acknowledges causes heat-dome effect. To the north, it should be noted, there are 40-50 miles of almost exclusive biking trail which run through suburban development. At some point in the future, Tibbetts Brook will get daylighted to comply with federal clean water laws, and when that happens, the Putnam line that runs south of the park will also be made available to all users. The East Coast Greenway runs for a mile in VCP, and is part of a 5,000-mile Greenway that goes from uppermost Maine to the Florida keys. More locally, the rail line that was once owned by New York Central operated between Sedgwick Avenue and Brewster, NY.

Click to open a PDF of the map

If you wish to explore the Putnam Trail and the many other amenities in Van Cortlandt Park, check out Friends of Van Cortlandt Park, www.vancortlandt.org  Both orgs help maintain and support the park and rely on donations.

You may be interested in following the blog called Putnam Trail Chronicle run by a local artist and naturalist.  The site contains photos, videos, updates, insights about the trail and for those interested in preserving natural areas in the city.

For more information or if you have any questions please e-mail: