Most New Yorkers know no more about Staten Island than an occasional trip on the Ferry with visiting out-of-towners—if that. Yet, Staten Island is another world—with more designated parkland than any other borough.
On this trip, we’ll drink in the humbling panorama of the world-renowned New York harbor from the Staten Island Ferry and then see forest, swamps, fresh water ponds, sandy beaches, rocky Atlantic coast and bluffs, and amazingly, open grasslands.
We’ll begin walking through the North Mount Loretto State Forest and then proceed to the sky-full vistas of Mount Loretto Unique Area on Staten Island’s south shore. The rich greens of late spring should be spectacular. Resident songbirds are already nesting and raising families – the woods should be lively with their songs. The resident Bald Eagle pair, Vito and Linda, might make an appearance.
Bring your lunch to enjoy on the beach if the weather is cooperative (swimming may be possible, though the water may be cold and the beach is pebbly!) 18 and older only.
THE MEET UP: Meet at 8:30 am at the Manhattan Staten Island Ferry Terminal at South Ferry for the 9:00 am boat. (Check the MTA Weekender for any connecting subway weekend service changes. #1 Train to South Ferry or R Train to Whitehall Street/South Ferry.) Meet at the top of the escalators in the main waiting room of the Terminal near the restrooms. (Ferries leave every 1/2 hour so don’t be late!) Staten Island Railway (SIR) to Richmond Valley. Approximately 5 mile walk. Return on the SIR to the St. George Ferry Terminal, and Staten Island Ferry to Manhattan. Plan on a full day outing – we will try to be back to Manhattan by 4:00 pm, but depending on train and ferry connections, it may be later! Please be prepared for 2 Metrocard fares on the SIR – transfer times are often rapid between the ferry and the train, so you don’t want to miss the connection by taking time to fill your Metrocard! IF YOU WANT TO MEET IN THE STATEN ISLAND TERMINAL (rather than in Manhattan): We will be arriving at 9:30 am. Meet us at the top of the stairs to the SIR. Driving: Meet a little after 10:00 am. You can park in the north entrance parking lot for North Mount Loretto State Forest at Amboy and Cunningham Road (on the south side of Amboy Road, east of the Richmond Valley SIR station). We will be returning to this location. $: 2 MetroCard fares: including subway/bus FREE transfers.
KEITH MICHAEL is a self-styled urban naturalist, avid birder, photographer, and a dedicated explorer of New York City’s five boroughs. Watching birds drives his focus, but the breadth of NYC history, and the wealth of vistas, trees, wildflowers, grasses, mushrooms, butterflies, dragonflies, as well as scaled, slithery and furred fauna that can be observed within the city is truly remarkable. Mr. Michael has published four books of writing and photographs: Let’s Go Out!: A Birder’s Year in the West Village (2015); Take Me to the River (2014); Once Around the Block (2013), and 1000 Days: World Trade Center Rising (2013);leads New York City WILD! nature walking tours, co-leads Hudson River Park WILD! walks, and is a monthly contributor to WestView News: The Voice of the West Village.
When not adventuring in the city and taking photographs, Mr. Michael is a ballet choreographer, having created The Alice-in-Wonderland Follies, Mother GOOSE! and The Nutcracker for New York Theatre Ballet, and is the Dance Production Coordinator at The Juilliard School. For more information about walks, books or photographs visit www.keithmichaelnyc.com
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Header photo by Andrew Dearling from NYC WILD! 2014 hike to Staten Island