Ultra-local hiking in NYC
Marsh to meadow, sidewalk to high point, beach to bar, river to ocean, and everything in between
I’ve been thinking about urban hiking a lot recently. I mean, as longtime readers know I am often thinking about urban hiking1, but especially this past week, because tonight I’ll be talking with other outdoors enthusiasts about hiking in NYC at the Mappy Hour Return to IRL party! (Sorry, procrastinators, I think it’s sold out, unless you’re a Mappy Hour Pro member.)
I’ve actually gone on two urban treks recently, as “training” for some more ambitious hikes we may or may not fit in this year. The first was to Forest Park via Myrtle Avenue; the second to Brighton Beach and NetCost. While New York City has some very nice parks—don’t get me wrong—long urban hikes almost always require some sidewalk pounding. (One notable exception: The 12.3-mile “Blue Trail” in the Staten Island Greenbelt.)
My favorite urban hiking formula is to pick a destination, like a restaurant or specialty grocery store, a beach or a park, and then work out a scenic or interesting (or direct) route to and/or from there. (For one-way trips: If you’re shopping or swimming at the end, *best to walk there* and then take public transportation back; if you’re going someplace specific to hike, like a nature area or park, *best to take public transportation there* and then walk back, stopping somewhere for a meal or a drink as a reward.)
I drafted a little info sheet/flyer to hand out to attendees tonight, and to jog my memory of past city treks. I’ve shared it below; it’s a good reminder of the places I’ve been—and the places I’ve yet to explore.
Fav NYC parks
Bronx Pelham Bay Park
Queens: Forest Park, Fort Tilden National Recreation Area
Staten Island: Latourette Park
On my to-hike list
Brooklyn: Fresh Creek Nature Preserve, Shirley Chisholm State Park
Queens: Spring Creek Park, Alley Pond
Staten Island: Deere Park, Todt Hill (Staten Hill/New York City high point)
(Mostly) contiguous green(ish) spaces for pedestrians & bikers
Challenge The Great Saunter (32-mile circumnavigation of Manhattan)
naturalareasnyc.org/map to find pockets of nature
shorewalkers.org/our-walks/ for guided urban walks
The reading list
As I’m sure you’ve all seen already, wildfire smoke turned the sun in New York City red yesterday (John Schwartz for The New York Times). Everybody on Twitter was saying it was from the fire in Oregon, but this neat visualization of near-surface smoke makes it look like most of the smoke in New York came from Canada; who cares though the world is still burning in multiple places (Nadja Popovich and Josh Katz for The New York Times).
Last week I linked to a story about a bikepacker who was mauled by a bear and incorrectly wrote that it happened in California; the woman was from California but was attacked by a bear in Montana. My bad! Thanks to reader Beth for pointing that out, and reminding me that there are no grizzly bears in California anymore.
New readers might be interested in my 2020 story for Backpacker about our 2-day, 40-mile, five-borough backpacking trip.
Technically I have hiked through Inwood Hill Park on The Great Saunter but only on pavement, not on the trails.