WTA's history dates back to September of 1923, when it was first formed by the Westchester County Department of Recreation. The mission of the organization, stated in its charter, was to promote appreciation for the natural beauty of Westchester County, secure and improve local trails for walkers and horseback riders, and publish information about trail facilities for the benefit of the general public. This was a busy time time for the County, which had also acquired Croton Point and Glen Island Parks during that same year. (The Glen Island castle, shown to the left, had been part of a summer resort in the late 1880's.)
Col. Charles Francis Bates (U.S. Army Ret.), author of the 1936 biography Custer’s Indian Battles, was the organization’s first president. Included among WTA’s early hike leaders was Raymond Torrey, one of the founders of the New York New Jersey Trail Conference, for whom the Torrey Memorial was dedicated atop Long Mountain in Harriman State Park.
As part of our 90th anniversary celebration, we searched our archives and found some great photos and information about WTA's early years. If you'd like to learn more about our history, click here.
Hikes - Day hikes of various levels of difficulty are conducted every Saturday and Sunday throughout the year. Most hikes are in New York state or county parks or preserves within convenient driving distance, such as Ward Pound Ridge and Blue Mountain in Westchester, as well as Harriman, Fahnestock, Storm King/Black Rock and other popular hiking destinations in Putnam, Dutchess, Rockland and Orange counties. In addition, there are hikes to other nearby areas, such as northern New Jersey, Connecticut, or wherever our volunteer leaders know an interesting route. Hikers often meet at the North White Plains Railroad Station or other central location and carpool to the trailhead. Although there is no fee for attending a hike, those riding in carpools are asked to contribute to the gas, tolls, and parking expenses. Carpooling not only makes for a "greener" trip to the trailhead, but also is convenient for those members who either live in New York City or who otherwise must rely on public transportation.
Events - Annual events include a Spring or Fall Hiking Week in a more distant location, our Annual Dinner in April, Annual Business Meeting and Picnic in June, and our Holiday Hikes and Party in December.
Environmental Stewardship - WTA is a charter member of the Appalachian Trail Conference and the New York, New Jersey Trail Conference. Our volunteers maintain several miles of trails, including part of the Appalachian Trail.
Find out what our members say about us. When we distributed a survey to WTA's members asking for feedback about our hikes, events, and opinions about the club, we got an enthusiastic response. You can see their answers by clicking here.
The club, struggling to retain membership in the 1930's and 1940's, came close to being disbanded during World War II due to lack of participation. But it persevered and its membership grew. In 1961 it became a private organization, incorporated with the renewed purpose of promoting hiking and outdoor recreation not only in Westchester, but in the surrounding area. Now, more than 90 years after its original formation, these same goals continue.
Westchester Trails Association