ABOUT THE LAKES
Just at the northeast edge of the village of Tarrytown, New York, is the Tarrytown Lakes Park, a 72-acre scenic escape to walking and biking trails, kayaking in season, birding and, for local residents, fishing.
The park encompasses two man-made reservoirs, the large Lower Lake and smaller Upper Lake. They once provided water to the village, but the lakes are “retired” now, and serve as habitat for flora and fauna, and a hotspot for accessible recreation.
Bike Trails: Two trails for biking leave from the parking area at the west end of the lake, following the routes of the former New York Putnam railway. Leaving from the left-hand side of the parking area, an unpaved, cinder trail runs for a little over a mile on the northern side of the lake and is best for hybrid bikes with slightly wider tires. This path ends at Tower Hill Road. Leaving from the right-hand side of the parking lot and across the street is the paved Tarrytown Lakes Extension Trail, a “spur” trail of the North and South County Trailways. This pathway is suitable for bikes of all types; the trail is level and wide, easy to navigate and perfect for learning to ride. It extends for over a mile alongside the lake’s shore, reaching the old Eastview Pumping Station and finally connecting to the North and South County Trailways (for which you must cross Neperan Road at the Pumping Station, turn right and briefly follow the road to the intersection with the trailways’ ramp).
Walking paths: Four walking paths wind through the woods of the park, and are marked with metal blazes. An easy “hike” for children leaves from the unpaved bike path; it follows blue metal hiker blazes down to the edge of the lake, then through a pine forest, emerging at the soccer field. It continues on the far side of the soccer field, eventually connecting to a yellow-blazed trail.
Ice skating is permitted in season, when opened by the village (usually after a period of two weeks of freezing weather). Skating takes place near the red skate shack at the west end of the smaller Upper Lake.
Fishing is permitted in season, for Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow residents only. Permits must be obtained from both the Village of Tarrytown and the State of New York. Fish species in the lake include largemouth bass, perch, sunfish, carp, catfish, bullhead and rock bass. Access is from the shore, or from kayaks (permitted starting in 2017).
Cross-country skiing is permitted in the park in winter.
Dog walking is popular at the lakes, and permitted when dogs are leashed. Dog waste bags are provided at key spots along the trails.
Kayaking is available at the lakes through a rental outfit, located on the weekendsnear the Pumping Station. Currently, kayaking, canoeing or stand-up paddleboarding of your own personal craft is not allowed (ie, you can’t bring your own boat).
From the bike path on the south side of the Tarrytown Lakes, you can connect to the South County Trailway, which in turn connects to the Old Put trail in Van Cortlandt Park, then the Moshulu Greenway, all the way to City Island in the Bronx. All starting from the Lakes!
History of the Tarrytown Lakes
The Tarrytown Lakes are regarded by many as the jewel of the Rivertowns. The Upper (small) Lake which cover 20 acres and with a capacity of 30 million gallons and Lower (large) Lake which covers 50 acres with a capacity of 170 millions gallons date from 1887. With the support of local resident and Financier Jay Gould a $100,000 bond proposal won approval 82/62 on August 15 1887. The contractors were Van Vanken & Duell.
The reservoir was built within the eastern village limits, a dam was built across Storm Brook where the valley narrowed to a few hundred feet near the western border of the hamlet of East View. On one side of the narrow, rocky bed of Storm Brook was a rocky ledge which provided the foundation for the 24 foot high dams construction. The Water Works Engineer in charge was D.S Merritt.
The entire project cost $425,000 the additional $325,000 being funded by supplementary bond issues. The new reservoir which popularly became known as the Tarrytown Lakes could supply as much as a million gallons of water a day.
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