Posts Tagged ‘staten island’

Staten Island Greenbelt

September 27, 2013

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.

Staten Island Greenbelt

Staten Island Greenbelt

Staten Island Greenbelt

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.

Staten Island Greenbelt

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.

Staten Island Greenbelt

Staten Island Greenbelt

Staten Island Greenbelt

We then headed towards another part of the Greenbelt called High Rock Park. We saw a garter snake and several frogs.

Staten Island Greenbelt

Staten Island Greenbelt

The park borders a lake and two ponds – all very nice to walk by with no danger of mosquitoes at this time of year.

Staten Island Greenbelt

Staten Island Greenbelt

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.

Fort Wadsworth

July 5, 2013

This Fort has been around since the Revolutionary War and was first fortified by the British. Since then, it has been used by Americans through various wars for two centuries, from the War of 1812 to the Cold War. Today, the US Coast Guard occupies the grounds and the land is open to the public as a recreational area maintained by the National Park Service.

Many military batteries dot the grounds. Battery Tompkins is the first one you encounter as you enter the area. Like the other structures that you’ll see here, it has seen better days and is slowly being taken over by nature. You can go inside the battery through a guided tour.

Fort Wadsworth

Fort Wadsworth

Fort Wadsworth

Battery Tompkins is also interesting for its dry moat. There are niches inside the battery walls for shooting the enemy once they are trapped in the moat.

Fort Wadsworth

Battery Weed is probably the most picturesque of the batteries here. You get your first glimpse of it from above at a lookout point.

Fort Wadsworth

While you are walking down to Weed, you also encounter other dilapidated structures that speak to more dangerous times.

Fort Wadsworth

Fort Wadsworth

You also get to see the underbelly of the Verrazano!

Fort Wadsworth

Fort Wadsworth

Battery Weed befits its name. You can see the inside of the battery by guided tour only. We unfortunately didn’t stay long enough to do the afternoon tours that were available.

Fort Wadsworth

Fort Wadsworth

Once you walk back to the lookout point to get to your car, see if you can find the Statue of Liberty in the distance. She’s a tiny green dot in the horizon but thankfully, they provide a free telescope. You can also see the progress of the Freedom Tower. Looks like it’s almost done!

Fort Wadsworth

The Fort is easy to get to by car. It’s at the end of the Verrazano Bridge once you reach Staten Island.  If you are coming by ferry, you can take the S51 bus and it will drop you off right at the Fort. No dogs are allowed but bikes are welcome. The Fort is open from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm. For those of you who want to see the Fort at night, there are lantern tours on Thursdays from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. I can only imagine how much spookier this place is in the dark!

The Chinese Scholar’s Garden

June 11, 2010

A relative newcomer to the city, the Chinese Scholar’s Garden opened in 1999 as the only garden of its kind in the country. It was designed as a typical scholar’s garden from the Ming Dynasty. The layout, attention to detail, and overall atmosphere of the place is amazing. You really feel like you’ve been transported to China. Let’s face it, there are few reasons one would visit Staten Island. This one is worth your time.

One of the most thoughtful touches to this garden is that it reveals itself slowly. There are layers to this place as you keep discovering another entrance to walk through and another new part of the garden to explore.

Chinese Scholar's Garden

Chinese Scholar's Garden

Chinese Scholar's Garden

Chinese Scholar's Garden

Chinese Scholar's Garden

The pavillions on the grounds are also worth a peek inside. Some have antique furniture inside.
Chinese Scholar's Garden

An interesting architectural detail are these “leaky” windows scattered throughout. Their purpose is to “leak” the view from the other side to make one anticipate the visit to this other scenery.
Chinese Scholar's Garden

The slow-moving fish lend a tranquil air to the garden.
Chinese Scholar's Garden

The Chinese Scholar’s Garden is located inside the Staten Island Botanical Garden at Snug Harbor Cultural Center- 1000 Richmond Terrace (between Tysen Street and Snug Harbor Road). The garden is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10am to 5pm. Admission to the Staten Island Botanical Garden is free, but the Chinese Scholar’s Garden has a separate fee of $5. Although I visited in the spring, it is probably better to see this place in the fall, when the trees provide a fiery contrast against the white walls. The best way to get here is by car. Since the directions will vary widely by where you’re coming from, you should use google maps to plan your route.