FOCAAdmin  Nov.25.2022

by Derrick León Washington, PhD.

Hiking the Old Croton Aqueduct is a life changing experience. An experience that brings hikers into contact with the different peoples that call New York home. The hike illuminates how communities work with, or sometimes even against the land to fit their needs. The trail offers a grand adventure that connects culture, architecture, ecology, and the natural world.

I began the trail at the New York Public Library’s flagship location, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. The changes in geography were stunning. From manicured backyards that had welcome signs for hikers, to massive public homes that welcomed hikers with the fresh smells of expertly seasoned stews.

We took detours when the trail diverged due to construction. One of these detours led to the Sing Sing Correctional faculty.

The trail offers spaces where you can hear the songs of native birds of New York to vibrant sounds of electronic music blaring out the windows of NYC tenements. We saw different houses of worship from synagogues to Anglican churches.

I look forward to re-walking the trail with other friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct trail to share the views and histories that encompass this beautiful hike.

Derrick León Washington at Croton River Bridge celebrating the long, joyous, journey.


Reading the signs along the trail illuminates the natural, cultural, and social histories related to the Old Croton Aqueduct trail.




There’s so much information that one can learn on the trail. This sign points to the birthplace of John L. Worden, a Civil War general (on the Union side) who commanded the Union’s only warship.


Derrick León Washington on the island of Manhattan (known as Manahatta by the Lenape peoples), looking at what is now called The Bronx.


The gorgeous murals along the Old Croton trail show the ethnic diversity of New York state. This mural in Harlem speaks to the history of working-class peoples, garment workers, and the role of immigrants/migrants in helping shape the city.


Derrick León Washington on the island of Manhattan (known as Manahatta by the Lenape peoples), looking at what is now called The Bronx.


People in New York create stone and cement structures that last the test of time and show that they were here. This location was a popular hang-out spot for the local uptown Manhattan community.


Having a hiking partner is one of the best aspects of hiking on the Old Croton trail. Rebecca Goyette completed the full trail and took gallery level photographs of the sites we experienced.


Used as a pedestrian bridge that connects Manhattan and the Bronx, the High Bridge’s smooth ground is excellent for solo and social dancing, including swing, salsa, and bachata.


There were several detours along the trail as building structures and roads continue to intrude on the trail. One of detours that took us off the trail was to see the famous Sing Sing Correctional Facilities. Still in operation, this prison has been open since 1826.