1 This is Muffin riding Brian. Ward Pound Ridge Reservation is a lovely 4,315-acre park of varied terrain and landscapes. The topography of the reservation is diverse from deep hollows to ridges 800 feet high.
2 There are more than 40 miles of trails through the woods, past wetlands, rock outcroppings, and through open meadows. We noticed a good deal of tree damage from last Autumn's Hurricane Sandy.
3 The park has a unique collection of buildings constructed over a 250-year period. A number of 18th and 19th century buildings remain. This is an old barn now used as an equipment building.
4 Guy Hodges, of Bee Guy Apiaries, keeps several bee hives at the reservation.
5 His hives are surrounded with an electric wire to deter the black bears that have been seen in the area.
6 We were also joined by Peter Hauspurg riding Cielo (Spanish for sky) and Muffin's husband, Jimmy Dowdle riding Biscuit.
7 Ward Pound Ridge is the largest park in Westchester County and it abounds with open space. There are lovely meadows, like this one.
8 This is one of two streams that run through the park. We crossed it by bridge.
9 It looked like these trees came down in a recent storm, since they were still quite green.
10 There are about five houses in which park employees live.
11 This is a very serious deer fence surrounding a vegetable garden.
12 Muffin leading the way, riding towards a higher elevation
13 The reservation was originally part of Cortlandt Manor and was settled by farmers from nearby Connecticut.
14 The name Pound Ridge is credited to the Indians who originally lived in the area. They herded game into a specially built enclosure, or pound, where it remained on hoof until it was needed for food.
15 There are many bird houses throughout. In fact, this is a popular location for bird watchers. In addition to many species of birds, the park is one of the best places for butterflies in the New York area.
16 These open fields were cleared by the farmers who lived here. The stones from the fields were used to build low stone walls that zigzag throughout.
17 More than thirty farms once existed within the park's boundaries. The farms were gradually purchased by Westchester County and the park was dedicated in 1938 as Pound Ridge Reservation.
18 There are many places to picnic. The park was later renamed to honor William Ward, the former County Parks Commissioner, who was instrumental in creating the county's park system.
19 With all of our recent rainfall, this stream was running quite swiftly.
20 Brian wasn't too keen about walking through the strong current.
21 Ramon and Rinze didn't seem to mind.
22 Ciello and Biscuit were also quite relaxed. In fact, Cielo didn't want to get out of the water!
23 The two streams that run through the park and are home to thirteen species of native and stocked fish.
24 The sign says that this is a trout improvement area for catch and release and artificial lures only.
25 The rustic woodlands include evergreen plantations, oak, hickory, and maple forests and wooded wetlands.
26 Every time we ride together, Betsy will say, "It doesn't get any better than this!" She just said it as I snapped this picture.
27 This is an equipment and storage building, constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States.
28 The CCC was part of the New Deal of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, providing unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state, and local governments.
29 Young men were given jobs in order to relieve their families during the Great Depression.
30 The trail took us back into a wooded area as we searched for mountain laurel.
31 We finally found some! Mountain laurel, Kalmia latifolia, is a species of flowering plant in the blueberry family, native to the eastern United States.
32 This evergreen shrub produces clusters of flowers ranging from pure white to light pink. There are named cultivars blooming in darker shades of pink, near red, and maroon.
33 Blooming in May and June, the plant thrives in acidic soil in mountainous forest areas.
34 Betsy says that there's another area in the reservation with much more mountain laurel, however, it's a further ride and a big commitment to get there.