Updated: Jul 18, 2020
A couple weeks ago I went on a fall hike along the John Muir Trail in Van Cortlandt Park. It had been on my to-hike list for awhile and didn’t disappoint as a fun, urban adventure!
The red blazed, 1.5 mile trail  winds east-west cross the forests and wetlands of Van Cortlandt Park.
Travel through three ecologically distinct forests on this 1.5 mile route, the only trail in Van Cortlandt Park to traverse the park from east to west. The trail will lead you through park’s Northeast Forest, home to red oak, sweetgum, and tulip trees, as well as a frog-filled marsh; the Croton Woods and its sugar maple and hickory trees, as well as the Old Croton Aqueduct; and the hilly Northwest Forest, home to stately tulip, oak, and hickory trees. NYC Parks, https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/VanCortlandtPark/facilities/hikingtrails
I stared on the west end by the riding stables. As a note, there’s a public bathroom at Rockwood Circle which (depending on which direction you’re going) shortly before or after this terminus on the trail.
The path starts along paved road and then transitions to the smooth cross country before turning and veering off into the forest perimeter of the Van Cortlandt Golf Course.
After making my way around the golf course I had to walk beside and under the Henry Hudson Parkway.
This made the first half of my the a bit more cramped and hectic, the urban qualities of the urban hike were apparent. I quite like this, but for hikers hoping to find tranquility, it might not be the end to start on!
Once I made it to the eastside of the golf course the terrain changed and I was greeted with a beautiful, sloping walk up along a small tributary of Tibbetts Creek.
The trail crosses or shares the way with other trails that run in and through the park including the Cross Country Course, the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail, and numerous unblazed park paths.
After mounting that slope, the trail joins with the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail at the Old Weir ruins, one of the many historic landmarks Van Cortlandt park contains. This was once a way station to help control the flow of New York City’s water supply! 
Once I broke off from the Old Croton Aqueduct trail, I was taken deeper into Croton Woods, a peaceful walk reminiscent of the Central Park North Woods, but not quite as wild as the Northwest or Northeast forests of Van Cortlandt.
After the Croton Woods I came back to a more paved and urban walk which took me underneath the Major Deegan Expressway/I-87, the second major roadway the trail intersects.
After this final road crossing I was in the Northeast Forest. While the Northwest Forest of the park gets a lot of attention because it’s a bit denser and (supposedly) more ecologically diverse, I was taken by this section, pausing my trek to explore some of the unblazed park trails leading down and around the marsh and making mental notes of places for future hiking.
In the Northeast Forest, the trail itself is only briefly in the woods before going past the Arthur Ross Nursery and along playgrounds and sports fields ultimately coming ending at Van Cortlandt Park East and East 238th street in the Bronx.
After reaching the east end of the trail, I doubled back to head home and caught a colorful cloudscape at sunset over the parade grounds on my way the 1 train!