Mountain Lakes Park, Westchester County, New York

Mountain Lakes Park, with 1,082 acres, is the northernmost county park in Westchester County, located primarily within the Town of North Salem. There is a summer camp there for disadvantaged children, and other cottages and campsites are available year-round for the general public. The park is described as having a rugged landscape, native hardwood forests, rock outcroppings, meandering streams, beautiful views and the highest mountain in Westchester County. There are also five lakes in the park. It sounds great, but I was not especially impressed. I enjoy overlooks, but there was really only one significant overlook in the park.

I parked beside the Park Office, just inside the entrance to the park. A paved road leads inside the park, forming most of a 3.4-mile orange loop. About 0.2 miles on the road I encountered a dirt road leading to the south. I followed this road:

Mountain Lakes Park, Westchester County, NY

Dirt road

After 0.4 miles, the road ended at Look Out Point, just across the border into the Town of Lewisboro. This featured the aforementioned overlook:

Lookout Point, Mountain Lakes Park, Westchester County, NY

Lookout Point

Here’s a stitched panorama of the view from Look Out Point:

Lookout Point, Mountain Lakes Park, Westchester County, NY

Lookout Point

I returned the way I had come. It had been below freezing overnight, and was either still below freezing or not much above it. This patch of ice covered on spot of the road:

Ice on dirt road

Ice on dirt road

I returned to the paved road and continued to the east another 0.4 miles, then struck out “cross country” toward the northeast on a blue-blazed trail. With so many fallen leaves, I could not tell where the trail was and had to rely entirely on blazes. In places, a blaze was missing or was spaced too far apart, and I had to continue on in the direction I had been moving and search diligently for the next blaze.

Blue trail, Mountain Lakes Park, Westchester County, NY

Blue trail

I found a rock wall:

Rock wall, Mountain Lakes Park, Westchester County, NY

Rock wall

A small pond was at least partly frozen:

Small pond, Mountain Lakes Park, Westchester County, NY

Small pond

A close-up of the frozen surface:

Frozen pond surface

Frozen pond surface

The blue trail left the woods at the intersection with the orange-blazed road and a dirt road. I walked along the road for a while, then had a choice of continuing on the blue trail across country or continuing on the dirt road and following a yellow-blazed loop trail. I switched to the yellow-blazed trail, which soon left the road to move north and then northwest through the woods.

Yellow trail, Mountain Lakes Park, Westchester County, NY

Yellow trail

Pretty red berries; without leaves, it’s difficult to know what they are, though the oblong shape could be a clue to identity.

Berries

Berries

In one place, a bridge crossed a narrow stream, though the stream was so narrow that the bridge seemed unnecessary.

Bridge across narrow stream, Mountain Lakes Park, Westchester County, NY

Bridge across narrow stream

Another frozen puddle filled the trail:

Frozen puddle blocks trail

Frozen puddle blocks trail

The yellow trail left the park for about 0.1 mile, running along Hunt Lane, then reentered the park running south. Here’s a nice outcrop visible through the trees:

Outcrop, Yellow Trail, Mountain Lakes Park, Westchester County, NY

Outcrop

The next three photos show that a large tree has fallen and blocked the path. I imagine that eventually the county will perform some maintenance and clear the trail.

Fallen tree, Yellow Trail, Mountain Lakes Park, Westchester County, NY

Fallen tree

Here’s another nice rock wall. I had to walk along side it to clear the tree that was blocking the path.

Rock wall, Yellow Trail, Mountain Lakes Park, Westchester County, NY

Rock wall

Looking back, you can see the tree blocking the trail:

Rock wall, Yellow Trail, Mountain Lakes Park, Westchester County, NY

Rock wall

Soon afterward, the trail came to a stream. This stream could have used a bridge. There were no stepping stones, so I diverted from the path about 50 feet until I found a narrow spot where I could simply step over the stream.

Stream, Yellow trail, Mountain Lakes Park, Westchester County, NY

Stream

The yellow loop intersected the blue loop, so I crossed back to the blue loop, now moving west. The blue loop crossed the orange road and continued southwest. I followed it, and it led to cabins near the north end of Hemlock Lake.

Cabins, Mountain Lakes Park, Westchester County, NY

Cabins

Here is Hemlock Lake, with its surface partially frozen. I sat at a picnic table and had lunch there, watching as a couple of dead leaves scudded quickly across the ice, before reaching the border with the as-yet unfrozen water. As the leaves fell into the water, their progress slowed greatly, due to the increased resistance.

Hemlock Lake, Mountain Lakes Park, Westchester County, NY

Hemlock Lake

Hemlock Lake, Mountain Lakes Park, Westchester County, NY

Hemlock Lake

I could have hiked a little more, but was getting cold, especially after having been exposed without moving during lunch. I decided to call it a day and headed back to my car. I had only hiked about 4.9 miles, so it was a short day of hiking.

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