When you mention parks in New York, Central Park is typically the one that immediately comes to mind, but after reading this, you may be compelled to spend your time exploring outdoor hiking trails in other parts of the city. New York City may not be the mountain environment where most great hiking trails are found, but there is no reason why outdoor enthusiasts can’t find many ways to enjoy themselves in an urban environment.
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Located in Queens, the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, a part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, consists of several hiking trails; spread over 9,155 acres of land. The refuge contains a vast array of different habitats, including a salt water marsh, wooded upland areas and fields, and two different freshwater ponds (the East and West ponds). In addition to hiking, Jamaica Bay is a bird watcher’s paradise, containing many varieties of birds during every season. Approximately 330 different species of birds have been spotted at the refuge, since 1925. If you do decide to treat yourself to the trails at Jamaica Bay, be sure to dress for the occasion. The marshes in the park mean that waterproof shoes are a very wise choice.
Greenbelt Trails at La Tourette Park and Golf Course
Staten Island is often underestimated by both New York natives, and visitors to the city. The island is just a short ferry ride from Manhattan, and contains some of the best hiking trails the city has to offer. The Greenbelt Trails can appeal to any range of hikers, from beginners to seasoned veterans. Those looking for a challenging urban hike should look to the eight mile long yellow trail, taking visitors on a path through the Reeds Basket Willow Swamp. If you are after a more leisurely hiking trail, look into the Nature Center Trail, which has a view of a fern garden.
Cass Gallagher Nature Trail and John Kieran Nature Trail
In the Bronx, of New York, lies Van Cortlandt Park, stretching over 1,000 acres of urban environment. These two trails showcase the diverse ecosystems which can exist inside a big city, taking you through wetlands and forests. The Cass Gallagher Trail, located near the park’s stables, is 1.4 miles long and a very challenging hike. The 1.25 mile John Kieran Trail, winding through the freshwater wetlands, is far more suited for beginners. Both trails are linked together by the John Muir Trail.
Image via Howard N2GOT