The Staten Island Greenbelt is a large network of wooded trails situated in a what is undoubtedly the greenest borough in the city. Rather than being one cohesive park, it is comprised of patches of existing park and newly acquired parkland cobbled together by the Greenbelt Conservancy. Unlike regular parks in the city, this one includes a golf course and a country club, with numerous trails intersecting and running askew like a subway map. The shortest trail is 4 miles, while the longest is 12 miles one-way.
My initial reason for coming here was to visit the William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge. If it was anything like the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens, we were in for a treat. Unfortunately, the only trail they have there was not well-maintained, with the vegetation at some point threatening to swallow us up. So we doubled-back and decided to do a different trail towards the ruin of a colonial-era home on Heyerdahl Hill. The woods in that area is supposed to be haunted with the 200-year old spirit of a child on a pale horse. We didn’t spot any ghosts, but we did find the ruin with a surprise geocache!
This was the first weekend with temperatures in the 60s, and we were quite happy to see signs of fall approaching.
There are a few areas that are designated swamps, but the two swamps that we passed by were more like open fields that showed their swampy nature only around the edges.
The Heyerdahl ruin is not too impressive, once you find it. I was more interested in the geocache that was hidden there. My first one! If you want to see this place, make sure you have a map with you – it is a detour off the red trail, so you need to keep your eye out for a very narrow and unmarked trail. Because the red trail is a loop, you can access the unmarked trail from two different points on opposite ends of the loop.
We then headed towards another part of the Greenbelt called High Rock Park. We saw a garter snake and several frogs.
The park borders a lake and two ponds – all very nice to walk by with no danger of mosquitoes at this time of year.
Because the Greenbelt is smack in the middle of Staten Island, the only way I would recommend getting here is by car. When I stopped off at the Nature Center, I overheard some poor woman say she took two subways, the ferry, and then a bus to get here. That is insane! Entrance to the park and parking is free. Dogs are welcome, but no bikes are allowed on the trails. Ticks are an issue, as many of the signs are happy to point out. Wear light-colored clothing and knee-high socks.