WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Westchester has become known for its rich and diverse array of hiking trails.
The county has 190 miles of established trails spread over 18,000 acres, according to Peter Tartaglia, Westchester County's deputy commissioner of parks.
"It's one of the main features of our parks," Tartaglia said. "We have many multi-use trailways."
Tartaglia said the Bronx River Pathway and Blue Mountain Reservation in Peekskill are two of the more popular hiking spots in Westchester.
"Everywhere you look in Westchester, you have trails," Tartaglia said.
The county does a parks survey every 10 years and Tartaglia said trail usage continues to be the most popular.
"People use it for walking or exercise, or for sport or for contemplation," Tartaglia said. "We provide a lot of specialty parks."
At 4,315 acres, Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Pound Ridge is Westchester's largest park.
"You don't think you're in Westchester County," Tartaglia said. "You could be in the Adirondacks."
Tartaglia said Saxon Woods in White Plains and Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla are two other hotspots for hiking in Westchester. Blue Mountain is a popular place for mountain biking, while the South and North County Trailways are good for walking.
"We have some really great places," Tartaglia said.
Upkeep of the parks can be a challenge, especially in the wake of storms like Sandy and Irene.
"We've had trees coming down," Tartaglia said. "We are constantly maintaining the parks."
At places like Tibbetts Brook Park in Yonkers, Tartaglia said it is hard to believe you are near major highways.
"It's really an oasis," Tartaglia said.
Bird watching is a popular activity among hikers and Tartaglia said deer, beavers and woodchucks can also be spotted.
"Come out and enjoy our parks," Tartaglia said. "Use them to your benefit."
The Westchester Trails Association is a hiking organization that schedules hikes throughout the year on weekends.
Walks range from easy 3 to 4 mile hikes to journeys of more than 10 miles.
For more information, visit www.westhike.org .
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