Hiking Trails at Westmoreland Sanctuary in Mt. Kisco, NY
Westmoreland Sanctuary is a fantastic nature preserved tucked into Eastern Westchester County, NY. It not only has hiking trails (that are very well maintined and marked), but it also offers family and community classes and programs, and a nature center where you can see live animals. This isn’t just a park with trails – it’s an entire experience.
But if you’re looking to hike Westmoreland Sanctuary has 8.5 miles of hiking trails to explore across 640 acres. The 11 trails range from easy to medium, and one even includes an educational campus perfect for children. You should expect to see plenty of wildlife both on the trails and inside the free nature center.
This post details an overview of all the trails in the park, as well as the nature center since it is entirely worth the visit. Keep reading to learn more about hiking at Westmoreland Sanctuary in Westchester County, New York.
Location: Mt. Kisco NY
Distance: 5.0 miles, but shorter hikes available
Time: 2.5-4 hours
Cell-Phone Service: No Issues
Features: Nature Center, Ponds, swamp boardwalk
Hours: Dawn to Dusk; Nature center has specific hours
Bathrooms: Inside the Nature center, when it is open. None when it is closed
Dog Friendly: No Dogs Allowed
Location, Parking, and Bathrooms for Westmoreland Sanctuary
Westmoreland Sanctuary is incredibly easy to find. You can use these coordinates, but truthfully a quick google search will direct you to the right place. Once you pull into the Sanctuary, there is a large dirt/gravel parking area to park.
Despite how large this lot is, on beautiful days, or days where they are offering classes it can absolutely get filled. Generally though, everyone finds a spot (somewhere), but you should know that street parking is not allowed.
Regarding bathrooms, the only ones available are inside the nature center. So, if you come at a time when the nature center isn’t open then you will not have access to bathrooms. The hours for the nature center differ throughout the week, but they’re generally open 9-5 most days. So, just plan accordingly if you’ll be hiking outside of those hours.
Overview of Westmoreland Sanctuary Hiking Trails
There are 11 hiking trails covering 8.5 miles of the Westmoreland Preserve. Some are very easy, while others fall firmly into the medium category due to the quick elevation gains. So, which hikes are which?
If you’re looking for easier trails, you’ll want to check out the Easy Loop Trail (tan), the Catbird Trail (red), the Hemlock Trail (orange), or the Brookside Trail (Green). The Cole Kettle trail around the pond is also easy, but you do have to manage some (albeit small) elevation on the Spruce Hill trail (white) to get there.
For medium trails with some elevation the Fox Run trail (Red), and the Wood Thrush Trail (Yellow) are definitely for you.
When hiking from the green-blazed brookside trail, you hit the Fox Run trail, which hilariously has a sign for the lowest elevation point. This is funny because you know that as soon as you hit the lowest point all you can do is go back up, which means some elevation climbs are in your near future.
And those climbs happen immediately. From the first moment you set foot on the the Fox Run trail, you are climbing uphill until you reach the end of the trail.
Hiking at Westmoreland Sanctuary – Special Features
Every park you visit has it’s own special features you’ll want to check out at some point while hiking there. Westmoreland Sanctuary doesn’t really have any high-elevation view points or lookouts, but it’s other features make up for that fact.
Check out all of the incredibly features of hiking Westmoreland Sanctuary so you can pick the ones you want to see and plan your trip accordingly.
Westmoreland Nature Center
Westmoreland Nature Center is immediately off the parking lot. So, you can both start your hike here and end your hike here.
Once you enter the Nature Center through the side door, you’ll be taken into an open 2-story room with displays and live animals lining the walls. The first floor contains mostly the live animals, like snakes, turtles, rabbits, and doves that you can see and read about while inside.
When you head upstairs you’ll mostly see displays of taxidermy-stuffed animals that you will find locally. There is also a display of turtle shells and of animal skulls. While these displays are very informative and really cool to see – if you have a child (or adult) who is freaked out by those things, you may just want to avoid the second floor altogether.
The bathrooms for the park are located in the back of the first floor room.
The educational campus at Westmoreland Sanctuary is a great way to explore nature and learn something about nature.
There is an outdoor area for community classes or lectures that Westmoreland Sanctuary hosts. But, even if you’re visiting when there isn’t a specific event the educational campus is worth visiting.
On the trees lining the path there are small placards naming the tree and describing it. I love this because you get to learn more about the nature surrounding you while hiking.
The Cole Kettle Trail (yellow) loops you around Cole Kettle pond. When starting this trail I expected some upclose and pretty views of the pond – which isn’t what you actually experience while hiking this trail.
Instead what you experience is a short boardwalk that takes you through a swampy area on the south site of the pond. I always enjoy a boardwalk in a park, but this one was unique from other experiences I have had elsewhere. You really get to walk through the swamp by using the boardwalk. It makes you feel like you’re truly in the middle of nowhere in a swamp.
This was an experience I thoroughly enjoyed. I was a bit disappointed that there was a lack of view of the pond, but the swamp boardwalk entirely made up for the lack of pond views.
There are three different ponds in Westmoreland Sanctuary. Now, you won’t get great views of Cole Kettle Pond, but you can expect views at Lost Pond and Bechler Lake.
Bechler Lake is accessible by the Easy Loop Trail – so is a site that everyone should visit when hiking here. However, fishing is NOT allowed without special permission from Westmoreland Sanctuary. Despite this, there is a small dock you can use to step out onto the lake and get an unobstructed view of the water.
One part of the park I did not know about prior to visiting, and one I definitely didn’t expect was the 1800s cemetery.
The Zar Cemetery is just outside of the Nature Center and has 37 marked, and several unmarked graves for the local people who lived in the area in the 1800s. At the cemetery entrance there is a large sign describing more about the people buried here and asking for respect as you visit.
I personally love to look at old graves and spent some time here reading the names of the people buried in the park.
Since this is right next to the Nature Center, it’s also very close to the parking area. I’d recommend stopping by here to see the gravestones prior to heading out for the day.
Other Tips to Remember
Westmoreland Sanctuary is a gem of a park in Westchester County, NY. The variety of activities, from hiking, visiting a nature preserve, educational classes, and even a 1800s cemetery make Westmoreland Sanctuary a unique and wonderful place to visit for anyone of any age.
Now, there’s a lot of water running through this park. Water and dirt always equals mud, and these hiking trails can be quite muddy. There are a few boardwalks to help you bypass the muddy spots, but most of the time you’re on your own. Be sure to wear shoes you’re okay getting muddy.
Donations for this park are always welcome, as they do depend on donations to be able to offer all the incredible things they offer.
I hope after reading this overview, you’re planning to put Westmoreland Sanctuary on your to-visit list! It’s definitely a place to hike you don’t want to miss.
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