Blue Mountain Reservation in Cortlandt, NY is a one-of-a-kind, urban mountain biking destination in the northeast, U.S. At 1,600 acres, this Westchester County Park may not be big, but good things come in small packages. Just one hour from New York City, over 20 miles of designated mountain bike trails designed and maintained by mountain bikers, a smashing landscape carved by glacier action and it's illustrious trail namesakes and history, makes this venue an MTB Urban Legend.
A network of rolling doubletrack trails and tight, twisty singletrack wind through a beautiful mixed hardwood forest of oak, hickory, sassafrass, tulip and dogwood. A sprinkling of sugar maple, birch and beech add striking color contrast in all seasons. The trails travel past and over spectacular rock outcroppings of Hudson Highlands granite; hug the shoreline of several ponds; and wind around and / or lead to two mountain peaks.
Both the Spitzenberg Mountain and Blue Mountain, the result of geologic faulting, rise to lofty heights above sea level. The summit of Mt. Spitzenberg at 540 ft. and Blue Mountain at 680 ft. elevation offer birds eye views of the Hudson River and the surrounding Hudson River Valley.
Picnic areas, ballfields and bathhouse. Two comfort stations and a trail lodge were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The lodge offers dormitory style sleeping arrangements and a kitchen. The fireplace in the dining hall heats things up.
Nearby Depew Park on the northern edge of Blue Mountain Reservation features the Veterans Memorial Pool, wooded hiking trails, basketball, bocce ball and tennis courts, a playground and the Sportsman Center.
Blue Mountain Reservation Mountain Bike Trails Description
Blue Mountain Reservation is primarily a mountain bike park. The first time we rode at Blue Mountain Reservation, there were a mere 7 miles of designated mountain biking trails. A member of the Westchester Mountain Biking Association (WMBA), stationed in the parking lot, handed us a trail map and gave us some advice on the best route to take to familiarize ourselves with the trail system.
We thought we'd start out on the "easy" yellow-blazed Park Boundary and Dickey Brook Trails our first time out on the Blue Mountain Reservation trails. "This is supposed to be easy?", I questioned as I zig-zagged between giant boulders, rolled over a section of "slickrock" and faced a short but steep rock strewn climb, all within the first 15 minutes of our ride. We soon realized even the easiest trails are tough and require good bike handling skills. Some experience needed!
We spent the day exploring the easier park trails. We made our way back to the park entrance by traversing the northern boundary of the park via the Boundary Trail. We enjoyed a picnic lunch on a grassy knoll overlooking Lounsbury Pond, an idyllic pondscape studded with Canada geese.
The Blue Mountain Trails we rode that day were the first ever trails geared especially for mountain bikers in the Peekskill, NY area, the result of a cooperative effort between a dedicated group of local MTB trailblazers and the Westchester County Parks Department. Today, the Blue Mountain Reservation is criss-crossed by a renowned, compact 20+ mile mountain bike trail network.
Keep in mind that difficulty levels are subjective, especially at Blue Mountain Reservation. You'll find a bit of everything.
The marked, color coded trails indicate different MTB skill levels. Easier, More Difficult and Most Difficult come in different flavors - doubletrack or singletrack. Would you like a few log rolls with that? How about a side of mountain with your rocky road?.
The rolling, yellow blazed, doubletrack gravel carriage roads are a good start. As you improve your MTB skills, the well-designed singletrack trail network allows you to work your way up to more challenging trails and get creative with your rides. Don't be afraid to try different things. If you feel you are getting in over your ends, you can reverse your course or head for the nearest easier trail connector.
More advanced riders will revel in technical boulder mazes, jaw hammering drops, steep climbs and twisty switchbacks that will leave you wondering if you are coming or going.
You'd have to try real hard to get lost at Blue Mountain Reservation, as the trails never take you too far from the parking lot or road.
Here a few local favorites. Trail Distances are a close approximation.
The Blue Mountain Reservation Loop
This intermediate / advanced loop ride utilizes a chain of trails of varying terrain and degrees of difficulty to take you on a circuit of some of the best the Blue Mountain Reservation trail system has to offer. This is a variation of the infamous "Chainstretcher".
Start your ride by heading northwards on the gently rolling Dickey Brook Trail and continue onto the Crossover Trail to Boundary Trail. Climb up challenging Neds Left Lung Trail to one of the highest points in the park and then shoot down the Stinger, Middle and Lower Stinger for a fun descent and great scenery. Take the Switchback Trail to the Hip Hop and meet the Dickey Brook Trail to complete the loop.
Mileage / Blaze: 1.4 miles. Orange / Green Blaze. Intermediate
One of the most scenic trails through the forest. Mostly, fast and flowy descent with not too much in your way. Some rock patches, short steep descents and bottle neck squeezes between rock outcrops on one one side and steep drop offs on the other.
Dickey Brook Trail
Mileage / Blaze: 0.75 mile. Yellow Blaze. Beginner
One of the easier carriage trails that provides beginners with a good practice run that features some rocky stepped climbs. Don't get discouraged. Master this a few times, then try a combination of the Boundary Trail and On Your Back Trail; the three "easiest trails" in the system.
Mileage / Blaze: 1.4 miles. Yellow / Blue Blaze: Beginner to Intermediate
Traverses the entire northern end of the park from the parking entrance road to Maple Avenue. It serves as a connector to the most popular trails in the park: On Your Back, Boundary Trail, Crossover Trail, Neds Left Lung and the Mix Monster.
On Your Back Trail
Mileage / Blaze: 0.4 mile. Yellow Blaze: Beginner
Access single track trail with some short stepped climbs and descents of varying degrees. Nothing too steep.
Mix Monster Trail
Mileage / Blaze: 2.8 miles. Red Blaze. Advanced
This trail lives up to it's name. A mix of advanced technical challenges that include giant boulder hops, boulder bridges, drops, lots of rock gardens, rock wall leaps, logs and handle bar width squeezes between trees. All done on singletrack. For a short sweet taste of the mix (0.6 mile) that's more downhill than up, access the lower section of the trail from the Montrose Station Road / Powerline entrance.
Dr. Jekyll Trail
Mileage / Blaze: 2.1 miles. Sometimes Yellow, Orange or Red Blaze
Flowy and semi-fast singletrack that snakes along the southern border of Depew Park. Requires good bike handling skills to navigate the rock gardens, flow between the trees and over log rolls.
Neds Left Lung
Mileage / Blaze: 0.4 mile. Red Blaze. Advanced.
This advanced singletrack trail is famous for the lung burning, 156 ft climb within a distance of 0.4 mile up to the highest point bikes can go on the Blue Mountain Reservation Trail Network.
Fun Trail Fact: Ned Overend, is a legendary endurance athlete. Among his Championship accomplishments: 6 NORBA Nationals, 2 XTERRA National Series Triathlons, UCI Masters in Cyclocross and Mountain Biking, the Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb; and in 2015 he took home the the first-ever U.S. Fat Bike Championship.
Many of these accomplishments were made when he was "over the hill" so to speak. Not suprising since Ned was especially well known for his exceptional aerobic endurance at altitude. Throughout his career he has helped to support and foster individual and team success. Today, even at age 60, few can hang with the man known as "The Lung".
Blue Mountain Reservation Trail Connections
Briarcliff Peekskill Greenway
Mileage / Blaze: 12 miles. No bicycles permitted on this trail.
Unpaved linear greenway trail that travels north between Ossining, NY and Blue Mountain Reservation. It pases through Croton Gorge State Park and ends at Blue Mountain Reservation. The 1.1 mile Sitting Duck Trail (as it is affectionately named by area mountain bikers) in Blue Mountain Reservation is part of the Briarcliff Peekskill Greenway. It borders the western edge of the Sportsman Center within the park.
A short, foot trail spur off the Greenway leads to the summit of Mt. Spitzenberg.
Things To Do
County Fairs, Festivals, Special Events
Chainstretcher Mountain Bike Race
Mountain bikers consider this annual event one of the most challenging MTB races in the Peekskill, NY area. Tough climbs, twisty singletrack and obstacles are geared to put your bike chain sprockets and skills to the test. See More Information below: Westchester Mountain Bike Club for race details.
Native Americans have been present in New York for 13,000 years. Archeological evidence from sites in the Westchester County area and along the Peekskill River, indicate that several groups including the Kitchawanks were among the earliest settlers in the area. They fished in area rivers and tributaries and used flatland areas for farming to support their communities. Many of the artifacts discovered now reside in the New York State Museum.
The land encompassing Blue Mountain Reservation was once part of the Van Cortlandt Manor. It was owned by the Van Cortlandt family, a powerful, political dynasty that began with Olaf Van Cortlandt's arrival in New York City (then New Amsterdam) from Holland in 1637 with the Dutch East India Company. His eldest son, Stephanus Van Cortlandt, began a profitable mercantile and successful political career which included the distinction of becoming the first American born Mayor of New York City.
Early on, he began establishing his estate by acquiring huge tracts of land in what is now, Westchester County. According to the law of the Province at the time, he acquired a general license from then Governor Edmund Andros to purchase land from the Native Americans (1677).
The great Manor of Cortlandt grew to include the present townships of Cortlandt, North Salem, Somers and Yorktown, with a part of the town of Lewisboro. It also included Iona Island.
Westchester County acquired the land comprising Blue Mountain Reservation in 1926.
From North: Route 9 south. Exit at Welcher Avenue; turn left and follow to park entrance.
You can park along Washington Road outside the park or pay the parking fee.
By Railroad: About 1 mile. Metro-North - Hudson Line: Get off at the Cortlandt train station. From the station, head southwest toward NY-9A. Turn right onto NY-9A. Turn right onto Victoria Ave. Turn right onto Montrose Station Road. At the approach to the Croton Expressway (look for the signs), turn left on Washington Street. At Welcher Avenue intersection, turn right into park.
Bicycle permits required. There are limits on the number of bicycles allowed per trip. However, trains usually leave every hour on the hour from Grand Central Station in New York City.