Pelham Bay Park: Bartow-Pell Woods Hike
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids New York City (AMC Books)
Address:895 Shore Road, Bronx, NY
Hours:8:30 A.m. to dusk daily
Fee: Free
Contact:; call 311 or 718-885-1461

Bathrooms: Mansion museum
Water/Snacks: None

In summer, these thick, damp woods can feel like a rainforest.

Pelham Bay Park
Photo by: Cheryl and William de Jong-Lambert

A visit to the Bartow-Pell Woods and the mansion museum nestled within will take you back to the time when the Bronx was a sought-after setting for secluded homes and summer retreats. The woods are named for Thomas Pell, a physician who bought this parcel of land in 1654, and Robert Bartow, a publisher who later purchased it and built the mansion in 1842. The main trail that runs through this area and beyond is named for the Siwanoy American Indians who sold Pell the land.

To begin this thickly forested hike, stand in the parking lot with the mansion behind you and walk diagonally left across the lawn. A faded sign for Siwanoy Trail is at the edge of the woods. The path is narrow, winding among mature trees and a rich understory of shrubs and young saplings. You will encounter the main Siwanoy Trail at the same moment that Bartow Creek comes into view through the tall reeds. Turn left, and follow the trail a short distance until you come to another left that you should take to head back toward the mansion and into the Bartow-Pell Woods.

You will periodically encounter a yellow blaze, but the narrow trail is easy to follow. When you come upon another junction, ignore the left turn and continue on an easterly bend toward the lagoon. Follow the beaten path around a U turn that will bring you southwest, through thick reeds and occasionally across a strip of beach. Depending on the tide, this stretch can have puddles. The path eventually connects with the link of Siwanoy Trail that you started on, and you can return to the mansion grounds the way you came.

The mansion grounds are well worth visiting, and kids might be particularly interested in the sundial that’s to the right of the backyard. Remember: This trail can be soggy throughout, even if it hasn’t rained recently.

Plan B:

Orchard Beach and the hiking trails throughout (Trips 63 and 64) are all-season alternatives. The Bronx Equestrian Center, at 9 Shore Road, offers trail and pony rides and riding lessons. Fees range from $5 to $35. For more information, call 718-885-0551.

Where to Eat Nearby:

If you are driving or biking, head to Pelham Bay Split Rock golf course’s small café. Nearby City Island has additional dining options.


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