Alley Pond Park
Stretching from Little Neck Bay on the north to Union Turnpike on the South, Alley Pond Park offers nature lovers some of the most interesting topography in the city. The park lies on the Harbor Hill terminal moraine, a ridge of sand rock that the Wisconsin glacier left here when it retreated some 15,000 years ago.
The park's 635 acres were shaped by the glacier, which dropped the huge boulders that now perch on the hillsides of the park’s southern end. It also left buried chunks of ice that melted and formed the kettle ponds sprinkled throughout the Alley, the 50-acre strip of wetlands in the north end of the park.
The Alley is estuarine-that is, a place where a river current meets the tide. Fresh water drains into the Alley from the hills and bubbles up from natural springs. Flowing northward, the fresh water merges with the salt water of Little Neck Bay. The mix of fresh and salt water means the Alley has several diverse ecosystems, including freshwater and saltwater wetlands, tidal flats, meadows, and forests.
South of the Alley wetlands, the park widens into an area of kettle ponds and knobby hills. The upland forests of the southern park cover more than 250 acres and are representative of the original forest types. In these forests, a natural "Mason Dixon" line exists. Two plant zones representing trees native to the Northeast and trees native to the South meet here. From the South are sweet gum and tulip trees; from the North are maples, birches, and beeches.