Town of Southeast
Trail Overview: This hike is unique to PCLT since it does not own the land beneath the trail. In fact, this isn’t technically a PCLT preserve at all. The trail is located on water supply property owned by New York City, and this project represents collaboration between PCLT, New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection, local Boy Scouts, the town of Southeast and the non-profit group Concerned Residents of Southeast. These groups work together to maintain the footpath.
Public Uses & Activities: The Diverting Reservoir Trail is for passive recreation activities such as hiking, bird-watching and snow-shoeing.
The Property: The trail is located alongside the Diverting Reservoir, a water supply property owned by New York City. The Diverting Reservoir holds 900 million gallons at full capacity, is one of 12 reservoirs in New York City’s Croton Water Supply System, and is the smallest of the city’s 19 reservoirs. It was built by impounding the East Branch of the Croton River, and it was placed into service in 1911. Its 8-square-mile watershed is located completely in the Town of Southeast.
The trail opened on August 22nd, 2014. (You can read the original press release HERE.) In the year leading up to the opening ceremony, volunteers from the Putnam County Land Trust, Concerned Residents of Southeast (CRSE), the Southeast Highway Department and members of Boy Scout Troop 440 (one scout, Kenny Hauser, adopted the Diverting Reservoir Trail as his Eagle Scout Project) cleaned and cleared the trail. Work included the removal of old tires and other debris, along with invasive plants such as barberry and knotweed. Concerned Residents of Southeast has agreed to maintain the trail in the future.
Talking about the opening of this trail, DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd explained “In recent years, DEP has partnered with several nonprofit groups to develop recreation trails on water supply lands that were once off limits to the public. These trails allow people to learn about the incredible water supply that provides more than 1 billion gallons of high quality drinking water to 9.4 million people every day, and it allows local residents a safe place to run, walk, bike and maintain a healthy lifestyle. The Diverting Reservoir Trail is the sixth recreation trail opened on water supply lands owned by New York City. The five that preceded it were all located in the Catskills. ” This is the first one in Putnam County. All have been built through partnerships with local nonprofit groups that focus on land conservation, hiking and outdoor recreation.
Directions/Location: The trail is on Railroad Avenue near downtown Brewster, across the street from Electrazone Field/Veterans Park. You DO NOT need a DEP permit to access this trail. Park alongside the road. If you happen to live in the village of Brewster, its a five minute walk to the trailhead.
Visiting the Trail: The trail, which is flat and mostly shaded by a canopy of trees, provides an opportunity for outdoor recreation near the Village of Brewster. It is an out-an-back trail, one mile each way. Follow the trail markers. The first part of the trail follows the route of old Nelson Blvd, which followed an old native american trail.
Where the old Nelson Blvd heads uphill toward the (off-limits) train tracks, the trail will bear left to continue to follow the edge of the reservoir. When you get to the end, take in the scenery, catch your breath, and then had back out the way you came in.
The area around the trail was an old farmstead, at one time known widely as the Brady Farm, and Valley View Farm before that. This farm was somewhat of an American icon – photos of the farm were used in ads and such nationwide. The farm was also the home to brothers Jedediah & Nemeniah Wood. Legend has it that during the Revolution, infirm soldiers stayed at their farm, and the two teenage brothers carted them to the military hospital in Danbury. They would have carted those soldiers right down the old Nelson Blvd. Records tell us that Nemeniah served in the militia during the Revolution. Jedediah did not serve until later, but was said to have reached the rank of Captain, and drilled with his troops in a nearby field. Jedediah so loved the land, that he and his wife are buried on a hilltop on the old farmstead. He died in 1857 at the age of 91.
Trail Maps, Photos, etc.: