New York City: John Muir Nature Trail

Amble through verdant woodlands in New York City's fourth-largest park, Van Cortlandt, on this 4-mile out-and-back.
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Amble through verdant woodlands in New York City's fourth-largest park, Van Cortlandt, on this 4-mile out-and-back.

Located on Van Cortlandt Park’s north side, John Muir Trail’s 4-mile out-and-back winds through the Northwest Forest before crossing over to the park’s east side and into the Croton Woods.

Follow the pink blazes from the trailhead at Rockwood Drive. A red barn full of stables sits to the right; to the left is the Northwest Forest. After a short distance, hikers will enter a wide, paved section of the trail. The trees here are towering. A sign in the middle of the path indicates this is Howell Grove. There are several nature trails in the grove, offering countless opportunities for further exploration on side trips.

From the grove, the John Muir Trail crosses over Moshulu Parkway and heads north through another dense forest. The pathway goes beneath an overpass, finally reaching the entrance to Croton Woods. A small waterfall trickles next to the rock steps that access the quietest and most remote section of the hike.

The trail snakes through the woods to a nursery. Then, it turns south and deadends at Van Cortlandt Park East, passing a Gaelic football field on the left. Retrace steps back to the start at Rockwood Drive.

-mapped by MacKenzie Ryan

Mass Transit: Take the number 1/9 train to 242nd Street/Van Cortlandt Park Station and walk north on Broadway to The Frank Kelly Field Road. Bus riders can take the Bx9 or the express BxM3 to the park's west side.

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 6.8

Waypoints

MUI001

Location: 40.9022098, -73.89457

From the parking lot, walk east toward Rockwood Drive and the trailhead.

MIU002

Location: 40.902392, -73.894323

Merge onto Rockwood Drive, which becomes the John Muir Nature Trail.

MUI003

Location: 40.900898, -73.892533

Go straight @ L-junction. The sign indicates this area is called Howell Grove.

MUI004

Location: 40.899908, -73.8919388

Bear R @ Y-junction with the Cross Country Course. Cross over the Henry Hudson Parkway.

MUI005

Location: 40.899481, -73.891679

Turn L @ three-way junction.

MUI006

Location: 40.899487, -73.891318

Bear L @ Y-junction, following the pink-blazed trail next to the parkway.

MUI007

Location: 40.899035, -73.890077

Turn L @ T-junction.

MUI008

Location: 40.899185, -73.884913

Bear L @ Y-junction.

MUI009

Location: 40.901792, -73.8839518

Bear R @ Y-junction, heading up a set of rock steps. Pass a waterfall on the left.

MUI010

Location: 40.900763, -73.882828

Turn L @ T-junction with Weir Building to the left.

MUI011

Location: 40.9022068, -73.882597

Bear R @ Y-junction. Head through Croton Woods.

MUI012

Location: 40.902623, -73.881287

Go R @ T-junction.

MUI013

Location: 40.9022658, -73.880894

Bear L @ Y-junction.

MUI014

Location: 40.902319, -73.879745

Bear L @ T-junction.

MUI015

Location: 40.902566, -73.879383

Continue L and walk beneath the overpass.

MUI016

Location: 40.9031638, -73.877609

Turn R @ Y-junction.

MUI017

Location: 40.902386, -73.873886

Follow pink blazes alongside the road.

MUI018

Location: 40.899441, -73.872995

Reach end of trail. Retrace steps to beginning.

Trailhead

Location: 40.9022824, -73.8942897

Barn

Location: 40.9021121, -73.8941932

John Muir Nature Trail

Location: 40.9007092, -73.8924766