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:
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:
Here’s a stitched panorama of the view from Look Out 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:
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.
I found a rock wall:
A small pond was at least partly frozen:
A close-up of the frozen 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.
Pretty red berries; without leaves, it’s difficult to know what they are, though the oblong shape could be a clue to identity.
In one place, a bridge crossed a narrow stream, though the stream was so narrow that the bridge seemed unnecessary.
Another frozen puddle filled the 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:
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.
Here’s another nice rock wall. I had to walk along side it to clear the tree that was blocking the path.
Looking back, you can see the tree blocking the trail:
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.
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.
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.
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.