Project Overview

The goal of the John Jay Community Trail Project is to create a community trail and NYSPHAA-certified Cross Country course for the John Jay Campus.

The project continues to bring students, parents, coaches, teachers, administrators, town officials, and community volunteers together towards a simple purpose – make the JJTrail a reality.

The initial project was undertaken by students and coaches who came up with the idea of a John Jay trail in the first place way back in 2013. Read about that here.

The school campus has over 200 acres of property in Cross River. The John Jay High School cross country team has had multiple county, section, and state champion teams over the last 8 years and much success prior to that.

However, the team had no true home course to train and hold official meets on. But we are close to that goal!

Challenges & Requirements

The JJTrail project has several challenges and requirements:

  • The north branch of the Cross River and the associated wetlands divides the school property and cuts off access to the lowland wooded portion on the west half.
  • There is a significant DEC wetlands area the trail goes through (see map), meaning we need multiple boardwalks to cross these muddy and boggy areas. It also necessitated obtaining DEC and other agency permits to do construction in the wetlands area (and it limited the type and manner of the construction, e.g no concrete, no excavation help via vehicle).
  • The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHAA) – has requirements for cross country race courses including having trails used for competition be at least 6 feet wide.
  • The Katonah-Lewisboro School District included a requirement that the trail be accessible via the Gator utility vehicle in case an injured person needs to be evacuated.

Taken together, these requirements necessitate that all bridges and boardwalks be 6 feet wide both for NYSPHAA requirements and to be able to accommodate the Gator utility vehicle.

The bridges and boardwalks also need to be:

  • strong enough to hold the Gator, and
  • be anchored securely enough to the ground that a runner exiting a boardwalk does not cause the opposite end to kick up, potentially interfering with a trailing runner.

The design of all bridges and boardwalks has taken all constraints and requirements into account. The built structures are solid and can accommodate large groups of runners going at full speed. We have successfully traversed the completed bridges and boardwalks with the Gator many times. All construction continues to follow these specifications and we anticipate no issues.

Trail Clearing

The trail clearing was begun in 2014 and all loops are completed.

The cleared trail segments include:

  • Clearing and widening the 1/4 mile “pit trail” from the Pit field to river crossing 1 (site of Bridge 1)
  • Clearing and widening the 1.25 mile “south loop” from river crossing 1 to river crossing 2 (site of Bridge 2) via the Michelle Estates / Town of Lewisboro right of way.
  • Clearing and widening the 3/4 mile “wetland trail” from river crossing 2 up to John Jay Middle School (site of ropes course).
  • Clearing and widening the 1/4 mile “extension trail” from the Pit Field up to the dirt student parking lot.
  • The “Final Link” trail – completed in September 2019.


JJTrail Map detail showing locations and status of the bridge, causeway, and boardwalk structures. (Green = compete, yellow = started, orange = planned not yet started)

View detail on each of the built structures in the JJTrail Project.