Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park Offers Outdoor Recreation Activities

During the summer, park visitors can trawl Lake Mohansic and Crom Pond on boats. (Photo: Victoria Fennell)

With the Spring Semester well underway and warmer weather rapidly approaching, students and faculty alike will no doubt be eager to leave the confines of their homes and classrooms and once again take in the great outdoors. Luckily, those wishing to take advantage of rising temperatures do not have to travel outside the borders of Westchester County to do so.

Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park, located a short drive north of WCC in Yorktown Heights, offers 960 acres of scenic recreation that will not empty your wallet or gas tank. While the park is most commonly known for its ample picnic areas, Park Recreation Aid John Rufus points out that this is only a small part of the activities and amenities available to visitors.

“We have great hiking and camping areas and a lot of cool outdoor activities,” Rufus said. “We have two regulation basketball courts, an 18-hole disc golf course, and a massive swimming pool that holds over 3500 bathers at once, so it’s a lot more than just picnic areas.”

Open year round from 8am to sunset, FDR State Park also offers visitors bike trails, fishing and ice fishing, sledding, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, a softball diamond, nature trails, a newly renovated playground, and, of course, large pavilions and picnic areas. More buoyant individuals can access boat launches in Lake Mohansic and Crom Pond, with boat rentals provided by the park.

For those looking to swap out indoor treadmills for hiking trails, or for those just looking to appreciate nature, the park is packed with various forms of wildlife. Birdwatchers can spot Blue Jays, Northern Cardinals, Ospreys, and Red-tailed Hawks among the park’s airborne occupants, while white-tailed deer, coyotes, and snapping turtles are among the park’s four-legged inhabitants. The park’s website advises being respectful of local wildlife, while assuring visitors that must animals generally do not approach humans.

Perhaps most appealingly, access to the park is completely free until May 20, after which entrance to the park is still remarkably inexpensive at just eight dollars per vehicle.

Officially created in 1957, FDR State Park is situated on the site which was once home to both Mohansic State Hospital for the Insane and the New York State Training School for Boys between 1909 and 1922. Public concern about the hospital polluting the nearby New Croton Reservoir led to Westchester County acquiring the entire park in 1922, after which the county began growing pine, spruce, and evergreen trees for use in other Westchester County Parks.

During the Great Depression the land became home to a camp for the Civilian Conservation Corp, a work relief program for unemployed and unmarried men. Many buildings constructed by the CCC are still in use today.

New York State finally acquired and officially opened the park in 1957, naming it after the revered 32nd president and native New Yorker in 1982.

Franklin D Roosevelt State Park lies directly off of exit 16 of the Taconic State Parkway, less than 20 minutes north of WCC by car. Whether taking a morning jog before class, or seeking temporary relief from work and school related stress, there really is something for everyone.

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