The Dams of Westchester

The Dams of Westchester

A few weeks ago someone asked me, “What is the Kensico Dam like? I thought I saw it on your blog.” Kensico Dam? I had heard of it before, but had never been. Then I realized she was talking about New Croton Dam in Cortlandt, NY, which I had certainly been to before and have blogged about. Both are located in the county of Westchester, NY, and supply water to New York City. And both are nice and interesting parks to walk around, with their huge stone walls forming the dams and reservoirs behind them. The Kensico Dam is located in Valhalla, NY, and I decided to check it out on a recent school holiday. Here is the scoop on both of the dams, starting with Kensico:


Kensico Dam Plaza


Completed in 1917, the Kensico Dam is an impressive site at 307 feet high and 1,843 feet long. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is part of the Catskill water supply for New York. There is a plaza at the base of the dam with fields, a picnic area, a playground and a 9/11 Memorial called The Rising. It is dedicated to all the Westchester residents who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks. The plaza itself is fine, a bit close to some major roads and highways, but fun enough for the kids with its outdoor activity. The dam, however, is quite a site in its sheer size and scale. There are stairs that lead up to the top on either side of it through the woods, as there is no car access (pre-9/11 there once was, but out of fear of attacks on NYC’s water supply, the dam and bridge are only open to pedestrians and bikers). Once atop, you have pretty views of the reservoir and park and it’s a good place for a walk, jog or in the kids’ case, a scoot. My girls enjoyed hiking to the top and walking across the reservoir and catching all the views of the water and land below. Is it worth a visit? Sure, if you live close-by or are passing through. I wouldn’t say it’s a must-see if you’re not in the area. It’s a nice spot to enjoy a power walk or take your kids to the playground, as well as to pay your respects to those Westchester residents lost on 9/11. Having said that, we had a perfectly pleasant morning there, and my girls had a lot of fun. I personally love seeing anything with some history to it, so from that perspective, I enjoyed it. Kensico Dam Plaza is located at 1 Bronx River Parkway Road, Valhalla, NY 10595.

New Croton Dam


Completed in 1907, the New Croton Dam, located in Cortlandt, New York, was built after it was decided an older one wasn’t big enough for NYC’s water supply. The new Croton Reservoir could hold about 34 billion gallons of water and a watershed covering 177 square miles. Definitely an improvement! Our reason for visiting was we had heard of– as well as seen photos of – its massive waterfall. Just look at the photos and you can see why kids love a visit here. Additionally, it is set in Croton Gorge Park, a 97-acre park full of fields, woods, walking trails and a playground. You can hike to the top of the dam and bridge, or drive up. We like to walk to the top…there you have a long bridge to walk over and admire the scenic reservoir on one side, and the thundering waterfall on the other. I definitely recommend paying a visit, as it’s some of Westchester’s most beautiful scenery, and with the large park you can ramble around for some time. To read more about it, see my previous post on it here. New Croton Dam in Croton Gorge Park is located at 35 Yorktown Road, Cortlandt, NY 10520. Note there is a $10 parking fee on the weekends May – September. The rest of year it is free.






  1. November 11, 2016 / 4:32 pm

    The size and scale of those walls at the first dam are just incredible – wow. Love the pictures of the second one too, walking or hiking somewhere like this is right up our street!

    • fifi + hop
      November 11, 2016 / 11:04 pm

      Thanks Joy! The walls are pretty amazing. I have to hop over to your blog and catch up – just made the switch to so have been consumed by that but plan to be back on track soon!

  2. November 12, 2016 / 9:28 pm

    Gosh it’s so huge!! Just the scale of it is hard comprehend. The views are pretty spectacular too!

    • fifi + hop
      November 14, 2016 / 3:37 am

      I know the scale is pretty amazing. Def made for a good hike to the top!

  3. November 15, 2016 / 7:52 pm

    The scenery does look spectacular. Not for the first time, I wish I lived nearer 🙂

  4. Clare Thomson
    November 17, 2016 / 5:18 pm

    I wouldn’t have thought of visiting a dam but your photos are absolutely stunning, Corey. Don’t think we’ve got anything on this scale in the UK. It’s really interesting seeing your girls against the massive backdrop! Thanks so much for sharing this on #FarawayFiles

    • fifi + hop
      November 18, 2016 / 3:58 pm

      Thanks, Clare – dams are not the first thing that come to mind when planning a day out but they’re actually pretty cool to see. Have a great weekend.

  5. November 17, 2016 / 5:32 pm

    Corey my Dad used to work for the water authority in Australia. As a kid we saw a lot of dams, to the point where we coined the phrase.. not another dam wall! However, as you have demonstrated, the reservoirs can be the scene of incredible natural beauty and of course amazing waterfalls. Thanks for jogging my memories on #FarawayFiles this week

    • fifi + hop
      November 18, 2016 / 4:49 pm

      Oh that’s so cool, Katy..not another dam’s like not another church..I can imagine after seeing so many of them you were pretty fed up!

  6. November 17, 2016 / 8:05 pm

    that’ s a big dam:) #farawayfiles

    • fifi + hop
      November 18, 2016 / 4:49 pm

      Yup 🙂

  7. November 17, 2016 / 10:44 pm

    awesomely big that first one, quite impressive! And the scenery at the second is certainly beautiful. Thanks for sharing #farawayflies

    • fifi + hop
      November 18, 2016 / 4:50 pm

      Thanks Alex!

  8. November 18, 2016 / 7:32 pm

    Woah! both look so cool! The first one is amazing though! #farawaysiles

    • November 23, 2016 / 3:18 pm

      Thanks – towering structures for sure!

  9. November 22, 2016 / 5:15 pm

    In Oregon, we have mighty river holding dams as well and usually behind them a similar site for family recreation and outdoor play. Lovely and impressive structures – thank you for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

    • November 23, 2016 / 3:14 pm

      There’s something about a dam that’s so cool to take children to – I think it’s the sheer size against our little nuggets;).

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