New York City is not just a concrete jungle. With nearly 30,000 acres of parkland, over 10,000 acres of New York City is composed of natural forest, woodland, freshwater wetland and salt marsh ecosystems perfect for an autumn hike and checking out the spectacular colors of NYC's fall foliage.
"Peak fall foliage season in New York City runs from the middle of October through the middle of November," said NYC Parks' Director of Urban Park Rangers Sarah Aucoin. "So mark your calendars to hit the trails, burn off your Halloween candy and Thanksgiving turkeys, and stay active and healthy while catching glimpses of some of New York City's hundreds of species of wildlife."
Those wanting to set out on their own can visit the hiking page on NYC Parks' website for a complete list of hiking trails of all difficulty levels citywide. To check out Fall Foliage hikes lead by NYC Parks' Urban Park Rangers visit www.nyc.gov/parks/rangers.
Inwood Hill Park Hiking Trail
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. Trails begin in the Northwest section of the park. Difficulty Level: Moderate Length: 2 miles
John Muir Trail
Travel through three ecologically distinct forests in the Bronx on the only trail in Van Cortlandt Park to traverse the park from east to west. The trail will lead you through the 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. Enter the trail at Broadway & Mosholu Avenue or Van Cortlandt Park East & Oneida Avenue.
Difficulty Level: Moderate Length: 1.5 miles
Salt Marsh Nature Trail
The first half of this mile-long trail in Brooklyn 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. Comfort stations and maps are available inside the Salt Marsh Nature Center. Enter behind the Salt Marsh Nature Center, located near the intersection of East 33rd Street and Avenue U.
Difficulty Level: Easy Length: 0.8 miles
Greenbelt Yellow Trail (Southwest Trailhead)
This Staten Island trail traverses the entire Greenbelt from its Northeast corner in the community of Todt Hill to its Southwest corner in New Springville. Access Moses' Mountain at Rockland Avenue and Manor Road behind the bus stop -- a great place to spot bald eagles! The trail can be accessed from LaTourette Park and Golf Course at Richmond Avenue and Forest Hill Road.
Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult Length: 8.0 miles
Tulip Tree Trail
This trail in Alley Pond Park in Queens winds through a native hardwood forest of oak-hickory, tulip trees and kettle ponds. The north end of the park boasts beautiful views of the natural salt marsh. Entrance is at Cloverdale Boulevard's east entrance.
Difficulty: Easy Length: 0.7 miles