Posts Tagged ‘forests’

Alley Pond Park

June 14, 2013

Over 600 acres, this park is the second largest in Queens – it’s so large it has its own golf course. Before you grab that super duper golf club, I do have to point out that it’s limited to a driving range and miniature golf. This park has a dizzying array of recreational spots. In addition to golf, you’ll catch folks enjoying a game of baseball, tennis, soccer, football, handball, basketball, even cricket! There are also plenty of wide open lawn spots for barbecues and picnics.

Look at these guys playing cricket in super white!
Alley Pond Park

Much of the park still holds value as an active ecosystem with wetlands and forests. In fact, it’s considered the most ecologically diverse park owned by the city. If you are a bird watcher, you’re in for a treat. The park hosts hundreds of thousands of migrating birds twice each year, from loons to warblers.

So let me segway into the hiking here. There are several easy trails you can take in the park. They’re nice and shady, with changes in elevation via concrete or dirt steps. When you take these trails, carefully avoiding the ones alongside the highway, you actually feel like you’re somewhere else far from the city.

Alley Pond Park

I debated whether or not to show you this next picture, but in the interest of making people aware, I decided to do it. These are the kettle ponds, clustered in a set of three, along several of the trails. They’re stinky and full of bright green algae. Avoid if you can. One of them is called Turtle Pond, but alas, I didn’t stop long enough to look for any. Yes…it was that stinky!

Alley Pond Park

One other thing that I’d like to point out that’s unique to this park is its Adventure Course. It’s a program for people to get together in teams and compete in an obstacle course. You must register beforehand and you don’t need to bring a group to participate. If you come alone, they will assign you to a team. As you can see in the pics, it’s a course that tests your endurance and fear of heights, among other things. It also includes a zip line somewhere (couldn’t find it).

Alley Pond Park

Alley Pond Park

I think the Catamount treetop course Upstate is much more challenging, but if you like the idea of a free day of muscle-building at a local park with strangers (or friends), this may be up your ‘alley!’

Alley Pond Park is in Douglaston/Little Neck. It’s more easily accessible by car, but you could take the 7 to Main Street and then the Q27 from there. Dogs and bikes are allowed. For bikers, there is a bike path from here that takes you all the way to Flushing Meadows Park.

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The Adirondacks (Lake Placid and Lake George)

November 18, 2012

Continuing our upstate NY trip, we drove from the Finger Lakes to the Adirondacks.  This region is huge with plenty of little towns to explore, but we decided to focus our last 4 days on Lake Placid and Lake George.  By mid-October, the crowds are thinned to a minimum and there is plenty of peace and quiet in the woods.

The Brewster Peninsula Trail behind the Howard Johnsons takes you to a fine view of Lake Placid. Surprisingly, we found out the hard way that if you are not staying at a hotel or vacation home on Lake Placid, you will not have access to the lake. All roads around Lake Placid are private. This was one of the few places that let you get a glimpse. The other place we discovered that allows public access, although we didn’t have a legitimate reason for being there, was a boat docking area.

Brewster Peninsula trail

Brewster Peninsula trail

Lake Placid

Mirror Lake, the smaller lake that sidles up against Main Street in the town of Lake Placid, is far more easily accessible and is quite stunning. We enjoyed watching this lake change color throughout the day. Aside from the outdoor spots right off of Main Street where you can view the lake, there are two hidden locations that provide amazing views, complete with comfortable seating. The library on Main Street has a sun room with rocking chairs and a large window framing the lake. This is a great perch for when it’s cold. The coffee shop in the mall on Main Street has an outdoor balcony with cafe seating. The view here is worth a panoramic shot (my photo-stitching skills are not quite there yet).

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake at sunset

If there is only so much you can take of lakes, there is one excursion outside of Lake Placid that I highly recommend called High Falls Gorge.  The treetop walkways and bridges give you a view of the Ausible River churning angrily below.  The place has a feel of a mining operation (it actually does have a “mining for gems” feature for kids).

High Falls gorge

High Falls gorge

After a couple of days, we continued on our way to Lake George, about a 2-hour drive south. We stopped off at a taxidermy shop in between. Taxidermy seems to epitomize the Adirondacks for me.

taxidermy shop in Keene

Lake George has a different feel to it than Lake Placid. It is much more casual and we felt the off-season atmosphere more clearly here. We only spent one full day here and got busy seeing what there was to see. Here is a view of the lake and surrounding area from the top of Prospect Mountain. There is a fee to drive up this mountain.

Prospect Mountain

Prospect Mountain

The lake is also quite beautiful from the ground.

Lake George

Lake George

Lake George

I can imagine the Adirondacks being beautiful in the winter with snow on the ground and in the treetops.  There is plenty to do in the winter, especially in the Lake Placid area.  I don’t believe the lake is full of activity in the winter, but there is skiing and snowshoeing in the nearby mountains and woods.   For a place to stay, I recommend the Winterberry Bed and Breakfast right outside the center of town.  Our room was inexpensive and breakfast was delicious.  For Lake George, we stayed at the Inn at Erlowest, a grand old mansion right on the lake.  If you want luxury in a rustic setting, this is it!  The drive from Lake George to NYC is about 3 hours.  If you are planning a trip just to Lake Placid, the drive will be 5 hours.

Storm King Art Center

October 15, 2010

For this post, I will do next to the impossible.  I will sell you the idea of this place without posting any pictures of its artwork. What?  Yes.  They have an insane rule that you cannot publicly post any pics that you took of their artwork.  So what I will do instead is post pictures of the natural beauty that can be found here, and we can pretend for a moment that this place is just a large park.

The Storm King Art Center is a 500 acre outdoor sculpture park dotted with gigantic modern art sculptures.  The sculptures are made by various artists, some of them quite famous.  The only word I would use to describe them is “bizarre.” But then again, I find modern art to be bizarre in general. Many of the sculptures are part of their permanent collection. Currently, they have a temporary site-specific work at the south end of the park designed by Maya Lin.  Called Wavefield, this piece was easily my favorite in the park.  You can see a NY Times article about it (with pictures) here.

The park is a must-see, even without the promise of sculptures hidden at every bend that tower over you and dazzle the eyes.  The park is so vast and of such varying landscape that it is perfect for several hours of exploration.  You will find hills, forest, lakes, flat meadows, and a roaring creek.  You will also find a wooded trail that wraps around half the park and gives you glimpses of the creek.  Here are a few pictures to whet your appetite.  Who says you even need the art?

This is from one of the viewing platforms in the park.
Storm King Arts Center

This is a little stream that runs through part of the southern end.  The more impressive big creek is coming up.
Storm King Arts Center

Get some shade in the woods.
Storm King Arts Center

The creek!

Storm King Arts Center

Storm King Arts Center

One of two lakes.
Storm King Arts Center

Ferns everywhere.
Storm King Arts Center

Time to go home.
Storm King Arts Center

The Storm King is located in Mountainville, NY. This year, it is open until November 14th, then it will reopen on April 1st of next year. Hours are 10am to 5pm, closed Mondays and Tuesdays. The entrance fee is $12 per person. No dogs or bikes allowed. They will rent you a bike for $20 for 2 hours. If biking is not your thing, you should explore by foot (give yourself 3-4 hours and make sure you have water on you). There’s also a free trolley that picks you up and drops you off throughout the park.

You can either take a private bus or drive there. The Coach USA/Shortline bus ride is $45 roundtrip. If you drive, it will take about an hour from the city, not counting traffic. Take the Palisades Interstate Parkway north to the Bear Mountain traffic circle; take Route 9W north 11 miles to Quaker Avenue exit. Make a left off the exit onto Route 107 to the light. Make a right on Route 32, then left after the green bridge, then follow the blue and white signs.

Connetquot River State Park

September 17, 2010

This post is from guest writer Jeff Orlick, sharing one of his favorite outdoor spots in Long Island.

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The entire grounds is huge – almost 3,500 acres of open space with many open trails and habitats. In some other parks, the trails are made for you – created by park rangers or pioneers and their followers hundreds of times. Here, it’s basically an open field, the shrubbery high above your head. It’s great for exploration of nature and yourself.

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There’s also the main building which could be a lot more fun if there were a game room, but it will do as just a gift shop.

twig pencils

There are so many trout here! They catch them about every other time they cast. It looks like so much fun compared to the ocean where we are lucky if we catch one. Do they eat them? They don’t look too appetizing. Slimy things…

At one time they had a hatchery. I’m not sure why, but the effect of it was that it became a haven for rubber boot fishermen. There was a sickness with the fish and the hatching was interrupted. I hope they return soon.

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Directions from western Long Island: Southern State Parkway east to exit 44 (Sunrise Highway), east to the Preserve. From eastern Long Island: Sunrise Highway west to Oakdale. The Preserve is located on the north side of Sunrise Highway, just west of Pond Road.  For more information, click here.

Westmoreland Sanctuary

July 9, 2010

Westmoreland Sanctuary was established in 1957 as a not-for-profit organization focused on environmental education and wildlife preservation.  The sanctuary offers 13 hiking trails, one branching off into another, so that you can tack on as many trails as you want to customize your hike.  Virtually all of the trails are less than a mile long, so you will want to do at least three.

The area is full of meandering stone walls and thick forest.  You can come here at high noon and still be in shade for much of your hike.  The abundant chipmunks appear to live in the stone walls, hopping in and out between the cracks with ease.  There are also several lakes to visit, although on the day that I was there, the bugs had the same idea, so I steered clear of the wet areas.

For this post, I came up with a different idea about how to portray this place.  I realized after awhile that taking pictures of trees wasn’t cutting it.  Because the forest is so thick and green in the summer, its real beauty is in the details.  Below is a composite of images that should give you an idea of what’s in store for you.

Westmoreland Sanctuary

Westmoreland Sanctuary

Westmoreland Sanctuary

Westmoreland Sanctuary

Westmoreland Sanctuary

Westmoreland Sanctuary

Westmoreland Sanctuary

Westmoreland Sanctuary

Westmoreland Sanctuary

Westmoreland Sanctuary

Westmoreland Sanctuary is located on Chestnut Ridge Road in Bedford Corners.  It is open 7 days a week from dawn to dusk, and there is no admission fee.  Dogs are not allowed.  Click here for the most current trail map.  For driving directions, click here.  You may also want to bring bug spray if you plan on visiting the lakes.

Fort Tryon Park

May 14, 2010

Fort Tryon Park is not as well-known as the museum that sits on its grounds, the Cloisters. That is unfortunate because if you end up just doing the museum, you would have missed half of the point of being there. The park is located on one of the highest elevations in Manhattan and gives you breathtaking views of the Hudson and the Palisades. People who are familiar with Central Park will notice similarities in landscaping. Interestingly, the man who designed this park happened to be the son of the man who designed Central Park, Frederick Law Olmstead. The most striking difference is the dramatic presence of the park itself. You are on top of a cliff and you are not made to forget it.

Here are a few pics taken from the medieval festival that pops up each year in the fall. It’s a hokey affair with people dressed up in costume and vendors selling humongous turkey drumsticks, but it’s also something that you should do once in your life and then check off your list!

Fort Tryon Park is located in Inwood on the northern tip of Manhattan, stretching from West 192nd to Dyckman Street and from Riverside Drive to Broadway. You can take the A train to 190th St and walk a short way north up Margaret Corbin Drive. Driving is not recommended since you will need to either find a parking garage or take your chances with the limited street parking available near the park.