How Do You Train?: Merestead

Merestead is a key trail area in our trail series.  It is a greenway link that helps to join the Butler Preserve, the Meyer Preserve, and the Marsh Sanctuary (and Leonard Park) into a single trail network. You can also access Westmoreland Sanctuary via Butler by crossing a short bridge over interstate 684. Read on for more details.

imageMerestead means “farmland” in old Scottish.  It is a 130 acre Westchester county park in Mt. Kisco, NY on Byram Lake Road near the Byram Lake reservoir (Mt. Kisco water supply).  There are 2.3 miles of perimeter trails (map on our site in case that link is broken) that link up with trails on the Marsh Sanctuary (map) and Butler Preserve (training writeup).

Merestead was deeded to Westchester County in 1982 by Mrs. Margaret Sloane Patterson.  Upon Mrs. Patterson’s death in August of 2001, Westchester took full possession of the property and has been developing the property for use as a Westchester County historic site.  The main house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The main parking area is next to the stable on the southwest side of Byram Lake Road in Mt. Kisco.  There is a trail map and several trailheads that begin at this point.

The full perimeter loop, marked in blue on the map below, (click here for zoomable Google map) is around 2.2 – 2.5 miles and starts out up the hill from the parking lot, nearly due south.  It skirts the woods, staying on the meadow area and then turns east then back north.  It picks up the “long trail” and heads east again up the hill.  The trail gets spotty from here and difficult to track.  It heads up the hill, along a stone wall and then back down the hill towards Sarles Rd.  You cross over a stream just before Sarles and head northeast.  There are several old farm road remnants here so it is easy to get off trail but the area is so small that it is easy to forge ahead and you will either come out on Byram Lake Rd or hit the trail again.

imageOnce you get to Byram Lake Road, you will cross it and continue on the trail up the hill towards the upper meadow.  (There is also a BRLA trail connection to the Marsh Sanctuary trails here to your left before going up the hill.)

You will see the Merestead mansion on your right at this point as you head up the 1/4 mile hill.  At the top of the hill the trail turns left (north) and heads towards the old Mariah Carey/Tommy Matola estate (now owned by Nelson Peltz).  At the end of the upper meadow the trail turns west and then back south.  You will notice a trail continuing to the east down the hill.  This is a BRLA trail that leads to the Orange trail in the Butler preserve (if you follow it pretty much straight east).  You can add up to 4.5 miles to the 2.5 mile Merestead loop (total around 7 miles) by including the Butler perimeter loop in your run.

Continuing south on the Merestead perimeter, you run for nearly 3/4 mile down towards the east entrance to Merestead.  The Peltz estate is on your left at this point.  You continue all the way to the road.  Make a right and go on the road for a short distance towards the stables where your car is parked.  After a few hundred yards on the road you will see the trail begin again in the woods.  Your can either cut back onto the trail at this point, running to the driveway and then out to the parking lot.  Or you can continue on Byram Lake Road and end your perimeter run back at the stables on the left side of the road.

An interesting site at Merestead is the pet cemetery to the southeast of the Mansion.  It has the family pets (mostly dogs) marked with small gravestones at the outskirts of the garden.  Some cool dog names can be found—makes your mind wander back to the glory days of this mansion when it was full of farm and human life!

Another possible add-on to the Merestead run is adding a section of the Meyer Preserve trail system.  You can access the Meyer trails by running up Oregon Rd, just off of Byram Lake Rd across from Merestead.  Continue up the Oregon Rd hill until the end.  The old abandoned Oregon Rd begins at the end of the paved area.  Run in here and in 2/10ths of a mile you are at the Meyer Preserve near the bottom of the Upper Preserve meadow loop.  This can add anywhere from 2 to 5 miles to a run, depending on which trails you take.