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New Teatown Trail Leads to Serene Lake in Ossining

OSSINING, N.Y. - A serene connection to wilderness can be felt while standing at the edge of Vernay Lake, a newly accessible body of water at Teatown Lake Reservation .

A new 0.3-mile trail to the lake opened earlier this month after Teatown acquired a 72-acre property, including the lake from Phil Gilbert, Jr. who died in 2008.

"Our goal is to keep the hillside wild. We don't want to put trails everywhere. It feels remote here," said Michael Rubbo, the director of conservation science at Teatown as he stood overlooking the lake.

The nine-acre Vernay Lake is fed by Shadow Lake, which is county-owned and managed by Teatown. From Vernay Lake, water flows down and west to Teatown Lake, the center of attraction for Teatown's most popular hiking trail. The three-lake system then drains into the Croton Reservoir, which is a source of drinking water for New York City and Westchester.

"We had always wanted to see this unique and beautiful property that my father so deeply loved preserved and protected," said Clint Gilbert, Phil Gilbert's son. "We are pleased that the extensive undeveloped portion of the property, along with Vernay Lake, will become part of Teatown."

Gilbert lived in a house on his property until his death. After Teatown acquired his estate, called The Croft, reservation officials divided it into an eight-acre parcel made up of the house where Gilbert used to live, a five-acre parcel with another house that was sold to its residents and 59 acres of wilderness.

In addition to the new 0.3-mile trail that begins across the street from Teatown's nature center, a new 0.7-mile trail extension has also recently been finished. The extension connects Teatown's Back-40 trail to Vernay Lake.

A stone bench and stone staircase were uncovered while cleaning up the area around Vernay Lake to make it accessible to the public, Rubbo said. Teatown officials are still not sure what they will do with Gilbert's house, he added.

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