Borough of Greenery
By: Carlos Glick
We all know of two of the most popular parks in New York City, Central Park in Manhattan and Prospect Park in Brooklyn, but did you know here in Staten Island, although it is known as the “Forgotten Borough,” it’s really not so forgotten when it comes to parks? That’s right, Staten Island has a massive number of parks and acres of nature. Below, I will list some of the most important parks here on Staten Island.
Staten Island Greenbelt: In these 2,800 acres there are over 35 miles of parks, trails, and natural areas, which by the way is three times the size of Central Park. The parks that are part of the Greenbelt are High Rock Park, Willowbrook Park, Deere Park, and LaTourette Park.
High Rock Park
High Rock Park is the cornerstone of the Greenbelt and one of the area’s most popular “Forever Wild” parks. High Rock Park is home to the Greenbelt’s environmental education department. High Rock Park contains five ponds and various wetlands, including Loosestrife Swamp located near the entrance gate. There are also hiking trails, where visitors can see all different kinds of wildlife, including different plants and animals. Visitors can also climb Moses Mountain, a 260-foot manmade hill, named after Commissioner Robert Moses. The 360 degree panoramic views offered by the site is considered one of New York City’s most spectacular.
Adjacent to the College of Staten Island campus is home to Willowbrook Park, 164-acres of parkland including baseball and archery fields, tennis courts, a shaded picnic grove, lake, playground, the Carousel for all Children, and hiking trails. It’s one of the Greenbelt’s most visited parks. Easy access to the Greenbelt’s White Trail and woodlands lie beyond Willowbrook Park. Willowbrook Lake, one of the park’s loveliest features, is a perfect spot to cast a line for catch-and-release fishing. The walkway and trails around the lake are suitable for a quiet stroll or an invigorating jog. Willowbrook offers a wonderful chance to escape into a more peaceful setting. Hikers explore its woods, while many species of birds take advantage of the five-acre lake to nest, eat, and do other avian activities.
Deere Park contains one of the longest marked trails in the Greenbelt system. The Blue trail, which lies in Deere Park is approximately 12.3 miles. It is also where you can find the highest evaluation of the East Coast, standing at 401 feet located at the end of the trail in the Todt Hill area. Not only this, but Deere Park was named after John Deere who bears the name of one of the world’s foremost manufactures of farm equipment.
Located in the home of what was once known as David and Ann LaTourette, was a very big and spacious field, approximately 500 acres worth, that is now a golf course. It was once a farm established in 1830 and was known as the David LaTourette farm. LaTourette is owned by the City of New York Parks and Recreation; the facility is managed by American Golf Corporation and it is open throughout the year. The Greenbelt’s Cold Feat 10K trail race takes place at LaTourette in February when the links are often covered in snow. Many Greenbelt trails, including the Greenbelt multi-use trail, which skirts parts of the course, are accessible from LaTourette.
These 4 parks that I had mentioned above are part of the Greenbelt. Now, I will mention a couple other parks in Staten Island that are worth noting.
Clove Lakes Park
Clove Lakes Park, similar to the parks in the Greenbelt, has nature trails. With 200 acres of land, you can hike, bike, walk, run, and enjoy the beautiful scenery that surrounds Clove Lakes Park. This park features three lakes, lots of woodlands, running paths, and in the winter, an ice-skating rink. Fun fact: the park is home to Staten Island’s largest living organism, a tulip tree that’s more than 100 feet tall and over 300 years old.
Silver Lake Park
Silver Lake Park is a great park to explore. You can walk, run, bike, and do pretty much anything you like, and much more including, having a picnic with your friends and family or just walk around to see the beauty Silver Lake Park has to offer. Like LaTourette Park, Silver Lake Park has its own golf course in which you can play golf. Fun fact: If you look on the map, Silver Lake Park is connected to Clove Lakes Park.
North Mount Loretto State Forest
Last by certainly not least, the 74-acre North Mt. Loretto State Forest is a unique and diverse green space in southern Staten Island. The property includes both mixed hardwood forest and wetland habitats. These features make it a beautiful area to hike and one of the best places to spot amphibians in the area. It is here you can hike and spot wildlife such as birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians or insects that inhabit or migrate through the state. Some species included are white-tailed deer, salamanders, rabbits, turtles, geese, hawks, wood thrush, frogs, and raccoons.
If you want a list of all the parks that are here in Staten Island, you can go to https://www.nycgovparks.org/park-features/parks-list?boro=R