Ben and I had been enjoying a week up in Westchester County housesitting for my cousin. We’ve taken this opportunity to relax and get away from city life stress. This meant we did lots of napping; reading; cooking; watching several documentaries, movies, and all of Season 1 of Orange is the New Black on Netflix; and running whenever we felt too housebound. It was great.
I loved taking the opportunity to get to know Westchester County a little better by running various route. I use different websites and Google searches to find running routes in places where I’m a tourist. I discovered Trail Link, which lists and describes biking, walking, and running rail trails all over the United States. It’s a non-profit organization that’s committed to conserving our access to nature by converting old rail lines to trails for a healthier nation. I was quite excited about finding this site because I love trail running and this site will make it easier for me to find places where I can do more trail running. The site is clunky to use, but I like how I’m able to find various running routes near where I’m at. I wish I could sort the searches by distance to your location, or by terrain. Right now, you do the search by location (or by trail name if you know exactly what you’re looking for) and they list all the possible results in alphabetical order (default) or by trail distance length. Then you laboriously must go through each listing to see where it is.
What I do like about it is that each trail has its own page. You can view a map that clearly depicts where the trail goes and the map marks where parking is, where photos of the trail had been taken, and marks locations where you have trail access. You can click on icon for parking or for an access point, a pop up box appears, and you can enter your address and get detailed directions to the trail.
On the page, there’s a brief description of the trail (length, what type of terrain, location) and a brief history of the trail. Another feature that I appreciate is that readers can leave comments and reviews about the trail. I found this enormously helpful in getting the latest info about trail conditions.
I’ve been having fun poking around seeing what great trails are near me at home and where I’ll be in the future. Trail Link is a good resource for runners, hikers, and cyclists.
I used Trail Link to find our first running excursion – North County Trailway. We entered at Pleasantville, NY right by Pace University. There was a parking lot at the access point. We parked, hopped out, and started running. North County Trailway follows the Taconic State Parkway and it’s more picturesque that you would think for being right next to a highway. Or it would have been quite picturesque if it hadn’t been winter and there are only trees with branches stripped bare of leaves. Still it was a lovely run. The path is pretty flat and straight (Ben’s requirements for a great run). Partway through the run, it began to snow lightly. We did a quick 4 mile tempo run (average pace 8:04; total time 32:20).
A couple days later we went to Teatown Lake Reservation. I was attracted to go running here because the site promised 15 miles of trail. Well, they do have those miles of trail, but I don’t recommend running there during winter. Some sections of the trails were narrow and along a steep slope and with all of the fallen leaves, it made running in Teatown a bit dangerous. We had to slow down to a fast hike. We decided to cut the run short (2.5 miles, average pace 11:32, total time: 26:34) since the conditions didn’t make running a good idea. We did run around Teatown Lake, which included this run over a bridge over a frozen lake and that part was fun.
Our last run was at Rockefeller State Park. We started at Union Church of Pocantico Hills, a small church founded by the Rockefeller family that is famous for the Chagall and Matisse stained glass windows. It costs $7 to go in ($6 if you visit Kykuit – Rockefeller estate first). No visitors are allowed during service, so check the website for visiting hours. Unfortunately they do not permit photography (you need to buy the postcards). It’s a small humble looking church, but the stained glass windows are glorious. Matisse made the rose window at the front of the church. He designed the window using paper cut outs prior to his death. The actual window was created after his death using his cut outs and instructions. Chagall created the other stained glass window. I love the colors and the dreamy quality of the figures in the windows. They float in space and not fully realized. I peered closely at them trying to capture their images on my retina. An elderly docent gave me a beautiful and detailed history of the church and the windows. If you love art, particularly Chagall’s work, I highly recommend visiting Union Church.
We left our car in the parking lot and went across the street to run into Rockefeller State Park. We ran by some beautiful homes. Then we were in running in some woods and pasture lands. We ran past a large herd of steers and we entered the park. We didn’t have any specific plan. Just run some miles at a brisk pace. We ran around Swan Lake and then went off exploring other trails. Unlike Teatown Lake Reservation, the trail running in Rockefeller State Park was much nicer – packed gravel, so we didn’t worry about slipping. There were several small hills and one large hill that we ran up, so we got some unintended hill training put in. I greatly enjoyed running at Rockefeller State Park. It was probably my favorite out of the three. I thought the park was quite nice even in the winter, so I’d love to go back in the spring when the leaves are out. We had a really good run (4.7 miles, average pace: 8:34, total time: 39:37).
It was good to get some outdoor running in because today we had an epic snowstorm. It’s quite cold outside with the windchill, so we’re staying put until the weather warms up a bit. For those of you in Snowstorm Hercules’ path, stay warm.