By Legislator Aney Paul (D-Nanuet)
Deputy Majority Leader
Rockland County Legislature
With the weather improving over the last few weeks, it’s that time of year to toss off our coats and head outside for fresh air and leisurely strolls. The best places to take advantage of that are all around you and free of charge. I am, of course, talking about our County parks.
Over the last 20 years, the County has purchased over 30 individual properties that encompass over 1,200 acres of land. Many of these purchases were able to be made with state funds, and the land purchased is now preserved as open space forever and is protected from any future development.
One-third of Rockland County is dedicated parkland, with much of it composing the western and northern borders of our County, including Bear Mountain and Harriman State Parks. In addition, throughout our County are many County-operated parks that each offer something for everyone.
One of the largest County parks is Kakiat Park in Montebello. Kakiat is an excellent place for hiking, with trails that cross into Harriman State Park, and is an incredibly scenic place for horseback riding and picnics. A footbridge, log cabin, and incredibly diverse wildlife hearken back to a simpler time in Rockland.
At both Kakiat and Kennedy Dells Park in New City, enclosed areas known as “dog runs” are perfect places to enjoy nature with your best friend- and the best part is that since those areas are enclosed, no leashes are required!
At Buttermilk Falls Park in West Nyack, you can take in the same view that President Teddy Roosevelt enjoyed when he would stop by the gushing waterfall and scenic overlooks in the park.
Hiking is a great way to catch some incredible views around Rockland while working to stay in shape. Hikers of all levels can walk parts of the 357-mile “Long Path,” which is a series of trails from New York City up to Albany. Fortunately for us, the trail cuts though many County parks, from Clausland Mountain Park in Upper Grandview, through Sean Hunter Ryan Park in West Nyack, and continuing to North Rockland in South Mountain Park in Garnerville.
Once you’re in North Rockland, you can’t complete your visit without stopping at Haverstraw Bay Park. Home to the County’s 9/11 Memorial, the park is nestled on the Hudson, with incredible views in all directions. The park also has plenty of playgrounds and gazebos, making it a perfect destinations for families to play and picnic.