At L.L.Bean, we believe in discovering the outdoors wherever you are, no matter the environment. Finding peace within a city can be as simple as finding adventure in your own backyard, even if it’s amidst a bustling urban jungle. So to kick off our new Urban Hiking series, we’re sharing our favorite outdoor spaces in New York City.
Between its soaring population and dazzling architecture, finding a patch of solitude in the Big Apple is not as difficult as one might think. Here are just a few of our favorite places to hike in New York City’s five boroughs:
Known for its beauty and rugged landscape, Van Cortlandt Park includes miles of backcountry trails and features one of the nation’s most respected cross-country running courses. Hiking routes range from a leisurely mile to a vigorous five miles, along with areas for cycling, fishing and horseback riding.
Opened in 1868 and designed by famed architects Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted, Prospect Park features a 60-acre lake and over 500 more acres of indigenous forest and hiking trails to wander. Birders can visit the nation’s first urban-area Audubon center, and canine companions can roam in both leashed and unleashed areas.
Central Park may seem like an obvious choice, but America’s first and most visited public park is an outdoor lover’s playground. Visitors can meander the 58 miles of hiking trails, including the picturesque Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir or the wild and lush Ramble, with over 230 species of birds found in the woods.
The trails may not be as strenuous, but the swamps, tidal flats, meadows and forests of Alley Pond Park make for a diverse ecosystem with abundant bird life. Nearby Forest Park boasts 165 acres of native hardwood forest and kettle ponds, and wandering trails including a 2.4-mile hike along the forest perimeter.
For those looking for a quick trip outside the city, the Staten Island Greenbelt network of parks and natural green spaces are committed to being “Forever Wild.” The extensive trails wind through wetlands, forests and meadows, populated by rare and native species protected by the Greenbelt Conservancy.
These are just a few of our favorite urban outdoor locations, with many more to be discovered around the city. For great group walks, check out Shorewalkers, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the city’s parks, promenades and paths along the waters.
Have you found other hidden trails in the city? Tell us in the comments below!