Take a Hike, New York

by Megan L. Wood

The absolute worst day of the entire year is almost here: Daylight Savings Time. Why, Benjamin Franklin, why? Soon the sun will have set before you leave your office and Seasonal Affective Disorder will kick in, making you tired and sad until spring finally comes and brings sweet relief from the cold, short days. Currently, the sun isn’t setting until after six. Which means there’s still time to get in as much fresh air, sunlight, and exercise as possible. Even if you live in New York City, there are ample opportunities to get outside and take a hike. Comfortable shoes are required; trekking poles are not, unless you’re really going for a specific outdoor enthusiast look.


Sure, you know all about the Bronx zoo and how tiger triplets were just born there. But do you know about Van Cortland Park, New York City’s fourth largest park? With over one thousand acres, the park has an actual forest with several hiking trails. The Cass Gallagher Nature Trail is about one-and-a-half miles long with a moderate to difficult rating. The John Kieran Trail will take you by the lake and over wetlands. Then get over to the zoo and fawn over the baby tigers.

Staten Island

Maybe you have a body to dispose of anyway? So while you’re in Staten Island doing that, check out one of the island’s 14 hiking trails. Lavender Trail in High Rock Park is only a quarter mile, but the park department’s description mentions black water snakes and snapping turtles. If you’re into slithery things, check that out. The Blue Trail in Deere Park is a solid 12 miles long. When you’re through hiking, ride the Staten Island Ferry home! It’s free and one can purchase beer while admiring the Statue of Liberty. If you hiked 12 miles, you’re gonna want a beer. If you saw a black water snake, you’re gonna want several beers.


Of course, you probably knew about Prospect Park’s hiking trails two years before every mom in Park Slope insisted her children’s nanny stroll them there. Of course. The park is usually crowded with birthday parties, cyclists, and dog walkers, but there are some easy, isolated trails, like Midwood, that wind through what’s left of Brooklyn’s indigenous forest. If you really want to get back to nature, get out of Prospect Park and go to the Salt Marsh Nature Trail in Marine Park. Wear shoes that can get muddy, as part of the trail goes through the marsh. Dogs are allowed, too. Isn’t it annoying when you’re at Greenwood Heights Beer Garden and there are children playing on the bocci ball court? Ugh, children.


You have at least one friend who lives in Queens and constantly complains that no one visits him there. Shut him up for at least a year by meeting him at Alley Pond Park (which was formed by a glacier, fun fact) for a series of short hikes, all under a mile long, through forests and salt marshes. After, earn extra brownie points by allowing your friend to take you to the Greek restaurant below his apartment he’s always saying is totally authentic. Agree that it is, and he may help you the next time you move.


For those of you who love the idea of a long walk but don’t relish leaving Manhattan, consider walking the entire length of the borough. Thirteen miles may sound like a really long way, but it’s simple enough to break up the hike shopping in Soho, eating in Harlem, or taking an outside nap in Central Park. It’s kind of the ultimate trump card in a game of who-loves-New York City-the-most at a cocktail party. Again, comfortable shoes are a requirement. Consider taking a cab home.

This content is produced in partnership with and sponsored by Merrell shoes and clothes. Let’s Get Outside.