Bronx, NY

Exploring the Hidden Gems of Van Cortlandt Park

Welcome2TheBronx

The Bronx is perhaps one of the most underrated boroughs for things to do, at least for those who don't live here.

Often overlooked, the only New York City borough that is attached to the continental United States mainland, The Bronx is replete with many hidden gems, many often steeped in history.

When it comes to parks, the borough is the greenest with the most land, a whopping 25%, dedicated to parks. One such hidden gem is Van Cortlandt Park in the Northwest Bronx.

While the park itself may not be such a "hidden gem" it's really what you can find in its 1,146 acres.

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Van Cortlandt LakeEd Garcia Conde/Welcome2TheBronx

Many people who go to the park my go to the more popular areas like the Parade Grounds along Broadway and the historic Van Cortlandt Mansion but nestled among all those acres are over 8 miles of trails including the Putnam Trail.

As you hike along the old Putnam trail (running along New York Central Railroad’s Old Putnam Line), past Van Cortlandt Lake and Tibbet’s Brook, you feel like you’re no longer in the middle of a large metropolis like New York City. Surrounded by forests on either side of the trail, you get that feeling like you’ve been transported back to simpler times when nature ruled over the city versus skyscrapers of today.

The Putnam Trail itself is just 1.5 miles in length within The Bronx at Van Cortlandt Park but it goes on for almost 40 miles straight through Westchester County and into the heart of Putnam County. It's a great trail for cyclists who want to ride long distances and the Bronx portion was recently paved for easier access for all, including ADA compliance.

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Van Cortlandt MansionEd Garcia Conde/Welcome2TheBronx

Just north of the Parade Ground you can climb Vault Hill where the Van Cortlandt family was once buried and see what remains of their burial plot.  Behind the old vault you can continue your climb and sit atop the rocky outcrop which provides beautiful views of the Parade Ground with Manhattan’s skyline in the background on a clear day.

These are just some of the things you can do at Van Cortlandt Park when you're in the mood to explore the many hidden gems within New York City's third largest park.

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One of the many beautiful sites along the various trails through Van CortlandtEd Garcia Conde/Welcome2TheBronx

Oh, and don't forget to grab some of the best carrot cake you'll ever have at Lloyd's Carrot Cake at 6087 Broadway directly across from Van Cortlandt Park! You can do that for a snack or after visiting one of the many local restaurants along Riverdale Avenue as part of your trip while exploring the #HiddenGems of Van Cortlandt Park!

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