How Do You Train?: Leon Levy Preserve

The Leon Levy Preserve is in South Salem, NY.  It is a 383 acre preserve formed in 2005 when the Westchester Land Trust and the Town of Lewisboro purchased this former Bell property.  This was made possible by a contribution from the Jerome Levy Foundation and support from the Dextra Baldwin McGonagle Foundation.

imageThe main entrance is on Route 123, just south of the intersection with Route 35.  A small white sign marks the entrance to the White Trail.  This is currently the only parking for the preserve, although plans are afoot to make it more accessible since this parking area has room for only one car!  There is no parking along Lake Kitchawan Drive or Highview Rd.

A hundred feet or so into the trail, it forks north and south.  The south trail heads up a switchback.  The north trail heads up an old driveway to the ruins of the Black mansion.  Further down the south trail it joins up with the Blue trail.  A fantastic feature of the blue trail is the old stone bridge and the ravine it overlooks.  Natural terraced rock looks great in every season.  The trail extends south towards Lake Kitchawan Drive where it runs behind a few houses and has to exits to the street.  The Levy Preserve actually extends all the way to the Kitchawan shoreline but it is heavy wetlands.  Winter is the best time to explore that area since the swampy areas will be frozen and make for easier footing.  In any season watch your step of you decide to bushwhack. 

The trail extends back northwards, paralleling the stream that feeds Lake Kitchawan.  The lake, like the Pound Ridge Reservation, is located in both Lewisboro (South Salem) and Pound Ridge.  Note: Kitchawan is a natural glacially formed lake where 10,000 year-old Mastodon bones were found in the 1980s.

The stream trail is not marked on the Levy Trail Map, but it is there.  I was not able to find the Highview Rd exit, but I did not look very hard.  It looks like the houses in the area may be blocking in the area owned by the preserve and the Lewisboro Trail Committee might want to create an official trailhead on the road to allow neighborhood access.

Just before the north trail heads towards its rumored terminus at Highview, there is a right turn up the hill.  Last time I was there (early 2008) it was obscured by several fallen trees but it may have been cleaned up by now since I read about an Eagle Scout project to blaze and clear the trails.  Up the hill it flattens out a bit, joining the Yellow trail and goes in and out of several meadows.  Just before the Yellow trail heads back downhill and joins the White trail, you can find the ruins of the Black mansion that burned down in the 40’s I believe (correct me in the comments if you know better).  There are several connector trails, including a trail/gravel road that goes to the AT&T cell tower at the top of the highest hill in the preserve. 

The perimeter trail is around 3.5 miles, with ways to loop and make it about 5 miles.  Check the trail map here before going out on any runs.  This relatively new preserve will only improve with time.  I look forward to seeing it evolve.