Mount Loretto Unique Area: Grassland and Wetlands Loops
GOOD FOR: Ages 5-8
RATING:


Source:Outdoors with Kids New York City (AMC Books)
Address:6450 Hylan Boulevard, Staten Island, NY
Hours:Dawn to dusk daily
Fee: Free
Contact:
Bathrooms: Portable toilet at the entrance
Water/Snacks: None
Map:

These two loops offer a variety of terrain, including a moderately steep hill. The view at the top is worth the climb.

Looking north across Mount Loretto Unique Area.
Photo by: Wikimedia Commons/Jim Henderson

Grasslands—a rare landscape in the New York City area—cover more than half of the Mount Loretto Unique Area. This environment is a wonderland for sparrows, bobolinks, swallows, and other grassland birds. This is also a prime habitat for wildflowers, which, in turn, attract numerous butterflies from spring through early fall.

Grassland Trail is on your right, about 30 yards south of the entrance gate. When you turn right onto this short dirt trail, you will be heading west. An expanse of grasslands will be to your left. After about a quarter-mile, the trail comes out onto a paved path; turn left and follow it south toward the shoreline.

From here you can follow the paved path to the main route along the shore (Trip 60), or return the way you came. The wetlands trailhead is directly across from the entrance to the grasslands trail. Wetlands Trail, which takes you east, has numbered markers that point to a freshwater pond; brackish water tidal wetlands; a larger freshwater pond that is home to frogs, turtles, salamanders, and insects called water striders (when you see them, you will understand how they earned this name!); a higher overview of the wetland system; and a tidal inlet. From this marker, retrace your steps to the freshwater pond, turn left and go uphill to a scenic view of the entire park. Descending along a dirt road, you will see Raritan Bay on your left.

Evidenced by the cracked shells on the ground throughout Mount Loretto, the wetlands are a good habitat for crabs and, by extension, the long-legged birds such as egrets and herons that like to feed on them.

Remember: Bicycles are not permitted on the nature trails.

Plan B:

Kenny Road and Beach Loop (Trip 60) are easier for toddlers, young children, and strollers.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Pack a picnic, or if you are driving, visit the shops and restaurants along Hylan Boulevard.



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