Field Notes: Forest Park Trail

There lots of beautiful parks in New York City, and fall is the perfect season to explore a new green area near you.

Since moving here I’ve always lived relatively close to Forest Park and passed by it many times meaning to visit I hadn’t really gotten a chance to explore it until recently.

I was hoping to take a fall day hike – but it was raining and the leaves weren’t as far along in changing as I’d expect this time of year.

I had planned a trip upstate, but in light of these things wasn’t feeling much like making the trek and decided to postpone it for another week or two.

I still wanted to at least go for a short walk in the woods, so I decided a loop or two around the nearby Forest Park trail would scratch the itch.

Though a single loop around the longest trail there that skirts the parks perimeter only takes an hour or so without stopping there are secondary trails that loop through the park to explore as well.

The perimeter trail has it’s quiet spots but much of it flanks the Jackie Robinson Parkway, and you can hear traffic as a result – though it’s very pretty, this is another reason to explore the shorter, inner trails, and really get a feeling for the entire park.

I would say the trails are more of a nature walk and less of a hike, but if you’re looking to do some quick and quality forest bathing, they’re excellent for that.

You will definitely run into other people on the trails but they aren’t at all crowded and so there are plenty of quiet moments of nature connection that can be experienced here.

The forest itself is very healthy – lots of different kids of species of trees and birds to watch and learn from.

I especially enjoyed watching a tall snag in a clearing where hairy and downy woodpeckers were happily foraging away, and was beyond elated to be able to spend time in a gorgeous white pine grove so close to home.

Often times when people seek an oasis of nature in New York City they head for popular spots like Central Park and Prospect Park, for good reason – I adore Central Park’s North Woods and Prospect Park’s southern end that borders the lake is another very special place indeed.

Still, there are countless other spots to explore – the city has more than 17,000 parks.  It’s quite likely that if you live in an outer borough you have other less appreciated options, and I encourage you to check out this list of popular parks by borough and find a place to explore near you.

Below are some pictures I took of the walk – the leaves are just beginning to change here, so I’d really like to head back in a few weeks when the foliage is a bit more dramatic!


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