VALHALLA, N.Y. -- Whether it’s relaxation or recreation, Westchester County residents can find both in abundance at the Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla.
The 98-acre parcel includes recreational options including fishing, hiking, biking and inline skating. It is also a favorite for workers seeking a breath of fresh air at lunchtime, or families enjoying picnics. The playground has plenty of swings and jungle gyms, and was voted Best Outdoor Playspace by Westchester Magazine.
Even some long-time Westchester County residents are surprised by the recreational pursuits available at Kensico. Debra Budetti, a Real Estate Broker and Director of Relocation for ERA Insite Realty in White Plains, visits the plaza occasionally on lunch breaks.
“I was surprised to find the fitness trails at Kensico Dam,’’ Budetti said. “There are various walks and runs you can do and there is a guide which tells you how many miles you have gone based on which trail you take. There is also a fitness course with stations which blend into the park setting. It’s an outdoor gym.”
Kensico Dam Plaza also hosts concerts, cultural heritage celebrations and fitness classes. One of the most popular concerts of the summer season is the Music Fest and Fireworks that take place each year around July 4. It is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the summer, and a county parks pass is not required.
The plaza will also host the Winter Wonderland later this year. There will be unlimited ice skating, rides, a musical light show, a shopping village, food and refreshments and an opportunity to visit Santa. Winter Wonderland runs from Nov. 27 through Jan. 3. Click here for more information about Winter Wonderland and to purchase tickets.
Also within the Plaza is the county’s Sept. 11 Memorial, The Rising. It incorporates the names of all the Westchester residents who lost their lives, the communities in which they lived and a quote about them from their loved ones. There were 110 victims from Westchester in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The memorial is located at the intersection of many pathways and viewpoints,and extends its presence into the surrounding landscape. The Rising is an open structure. It can be approached from all directions and allows people of all ages and abilities to view it, as well as move through it. The memorial was dedicated on Sept. 11, 2005.
The dam was originally built in 1885 and a new dam was constructed in 1915. The reservoir serves mainly to store the waters received from the Catskill Mountains west of the Hudson River. The Kensico Reservoir is in the towns of Valhalla, Armonk and Harrison.
Westchester County’s anglers take particular enjoyment in fishing the reservoir. The Department of Environmental Protection stocks the reservoir with more than 8,000 brown trout every April. Hikers also enjoy the various paths and challenges, including a trek up of more than 250 steps to the top of the dam. There is also a snack bar at Kensico.
Click here for more information on the Kensico Dam Plaza.