Urban Park Rangers
These experts on New York City’s wildlife and natural areas have planned all sorts of outings for you. The Urban Park Rangers lead camping trips, hikes, canoeing lessons, scavenger hunts, and plenty of other outdoor activities for people of all ages.
Happy trails await you in a New York City park. Pick a trail based on preferred difficulty, distance, or scenery. Be sure to pack plenty of water and sunscreen, layer your clothing, and hit the road! Here are a few of the great trails in city parks.
John Muir Nature Trail
Location: Van Cortlandt Park
Enter either at Broadway & Mosholu Avenue or Van Cortlandt Park East & Oneida Avenue.
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.
Kazimiroff Nature Trail
Location: Pelham Bay Park
Leave the city far behind on the Kazimiroff Nature Trail, which provides self-guided long and short loop paths around 189-acre Hunter Island, leading visitors along the island’s wetland border, through its interior forest, and onto the shore of beautiful Orchard Beach.
Location: Prospect Park, Audubon Center
Step back in time with a walk through Brooklyn’s oldest remaining forest. The Midwood, home to some of Prospect Park’s largest trees, is a relic of Brooklyn’s history, and was preserved and incorporated into the park during its original construction. The thirty-minute hike loops from Prospect Park’s Audubon Center through a forest filled with birds and other animals.
Gerritsen Creek Nature Trail
Location: Marine Park
Enter behind the Salt Marsh Nature Center, located near the intersection of East 33rd Street and Avenue U.
The first half of this mile-long trail follows the shore of Gerritsen Beach, which empties into Jamaica Bay. From the trail’s boardwalk and viewing platforms you can observe the birdlife for which the park is famous, including the herons, egrets, ducks, and geese that frequent the marsh throughout the year. The trail’s second leg winds through a prairie of tall grass, where you can sometimes spot cottontail rabbits and ring-necked pheasants.
Nature Trail in Inwood Hill Park
Location: Inwood Hill Park, oldest forest in Manhattan, Northwest section of Inwood Hill Park.
Take a step back in time and imagine Manhattan as a forest grove of tulip trees, oaks, and maples. Inwood Hill Park’s marked scenic sites or historic highlights trail will lead you to the top of the hill, where the park’s oldest trees – two Cottonwoods planted before the park was established – still live.
Vanderbilt Motor Parkway
Location: Alley Pond Park
This pathway for cyclists and hikers meanders over parts of the former Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, which was originally built by William Vanderbilt in 1908 as the nation’s first roadway designed solely for automobiles. The path runs from Cunningham Park through Alley Pond Park, giving hikers and bikers a fascinating glimpse at the two parks’ history.
Red Trail at the Greenbelt
Location: Latourette Park & Golf Course
Richmond Road and St. Patrick's Place
This easy-to-moderate four-mile long loop trail is in the heart of the Greenbelt, which is also home to six other picturesque hiking trails on which urban explorers can discover Staten Island’s vast preserves of natural spaces. The red trail crosses over Buck’s Hollow, Heyerdahl Hill, the northern edge of LaTourette golf course and the neighborhood of Lighthouse Hill. Want to make a full day of it? A pathway leads from the trail downhill to Historic Richmond Town, where you can walk through a preserved 18th century village.