- Distance (out-and-back): 5 miles; 5.86 with bottom loop.
- Type: Out-and-back.
- Surface: Mostly smooth, with some rocky sections after entering the Bronx. There are are some rocky stretches in Yonkers.
- Hilliness: None.
- Other: In the shade; much cooler than nearby roads on really hot days.
- Other: The trail is much narrower in the Bronx than in Yonkers.
- Other: The connection at the very southern end between the Putnam Trail and the OCA (passing the golf course clubhouse) is fixed.
As to that map, you take the OCA all the way down to where you hit a paved path. If you were heading towards the Putnam Trail, you would turn right. But you can create a loop by turning left. After a short distance on the path (slightly uphill, with a fence to the right), you come upon an open area, and you turn left. (This is near the entrance from the No. 4 train.) Follow the trail, taking lefts when there’s a fork (i.e., no hard lefts). It will circle around to the OCA a bit south of the County border. BE CAREFUL towards the end of the loop because it becomes slightly downhill and pretty rocky. When you hit the OCA, turn right. (If you miss a turn in this area, you can’t get too lost because it is a closed space, bordered on the right by the Deegan.)
Google Satellite: The Yonkers portion of the OCA is the brown stretch in the center. You enter the trail at the very top of this stretch. The small lake in the center is in Tibbetts Brook Park. You enter just to the right of the small building in the center of this and turn across the open field. Yonkers Avenue is the wide road to the right, and the Cross County Parkway is at the top.
The southern stretch of the OCA is a bit under 3 miles each way. It involves only 2 road crossings, one of which is a busy street. But I’ve never had traffic problems here. The start is just south of the Cross-County Parkway near the Yonkers Avenue exit, and about a half-mile east of the Saw Mill River Parkway.
If you look at this Audubon Society map, the entrance is where “Exit Ramp” meets Midland Avenue. The OCA is the dashed brown line. The path into Tibbetts is the dotted black line.
From Westchester, I park on Yonkers Avenue in front of the Dodge dealer (on the map). The meters are $.25/20 minutes, but if you hit the button before putting your money in, you get an extra 10 minutes. NOTE: Yonkers enforces meters until 7:00pm. I’ve never had problems parking there.
Walk down the hill to the traffic light right before the bridge. If you are standing looking at the bridge, the entrance is across Midland and to your left, just to the left of the exit ramp from the Cross-County. There is a paved path with a sign directing you to Tibbets. Follow that path and then take a sharp left at the clearing (about 20 yards in). The trail begins there and head south. (If you continue on the path, it sends you down into Tibetts, and the OCA-Putnam course.)
The trail is just a staight-shot down. It gets a bit rocky at points when you cross into the Bronx. Once you get into the Bronx, there are a few off-shoots to the left that can be nice, but they don’t go very far.
The “trail” ends when you hit a newly-paved path. Turn to the right and it brings you to the east of Mosholu Parkway and then right onto the side, albeit with a guard-rail, of the Major Deegan Expressway, just north of the Van Cortlandt exit. There is a ramp that takes you around on a slight downhill that takes you to a paved path that takes you by the golf course clubhouse and then, after the clubhouse, to Van Cortlandt by keeping to the right. In fact it takes you first to the Putnam Trail, but if you keep going west or northwest it takes you to the fields around the Van Cortlandt Mansion and from there onto the X-C course. Here’s an approximation of the connection.
Via NYC Transit
This trail can also be picked up from the south. To get the stairs just mentioned from the Van Cortlandt flats, and from the 1 train (last stop) (Map), you enter the flats and run across the southern end, with the fields (or pitches) to the left, and several buildings to the right. As you approach the end of the fields, there is trail to your right. Follow it and to your left you will see a trail that goes directly down (not a steep hill) towards a road. This road is the entrance to the golf course. Cross it, and go to the left, with a wall to your right. The paved path is marked in green. Follow it under a bridge – the first tee is to your left – and before you would otherwise take a share hair-pin turn to the right, continue straight, and you will find the stairs I mention. Either go up and back, or do the OCA/Putnam trail.
You can also get to the trail via the 4 train to Woodlawn: Map. You continue along Jerome Avenue, with Woodlawn Cemetary on your right, and on the left-hand sidewalk. After crossing the bridge across the Deegan Expressway, there is an opening to your left; in the picture it’s to the right of the tree with the trail going between the two metal posts with the red marks. Follow it down a slight hill with a narrow path. You will hit a trail at the bottom, and turn right. Follow it, bearing left at a fork. (If you take the right, it takes you back towards the Deegan, and if you go that way, turn around, and take the right-turns when you have the option.) There is a rocky downhill stretch, which hits the OCA at a “T.” Turn right, and it takes you up into Yonkers.