Alley Pond Park and Environmental Center
GOOD FOR: Ages 5-8

Source:Outdoors with Kids New York City (AMC Books)
Address:228-06 Northern Boulevard, Queens, NY
Hours:Environmental Center: 9 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. weekdays, weekend hours vary; trails: dawn to dusk daily
Fee: Free
Contact:; 718-229-4000

Bathrooms: Inside Environmental Center
Water/Snacks: Water fountain and beverage vending machine inside Environmental Center

USGS Flushing; USGS Sea Cliff; USGS Jamaica; USGS Lynbrook

Enormous Alley Pond Park offers hiking trails, playgrounds, an adventure course, and more.

Spot egrets at Alley Pond Park.
Photo by: Jerry and Marcy Monkman

Alley Pond Park is enormous, with vast sections that are close to pure wilderness and others that are highly developed with outdoor activities and amenities: playgrounds, picnic and barbecue areas, ball fields and courts, and the largest high-ropes adventure course in the northeastern United States.

Set apart from all of this activity, the Alley Pond Environmental Center gives visitors the opportunity to see and learn how plants and animals interact, and how nature can reclaim the land after human development. During the highway construction booms of the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s, this area and others of Alley Pond Park were used as dumps for construction debris.

The trails outside the center are easy to follow and well maintained, with boardwalks over creeks and wetlands. From the parking lot, go to the trailhead marker and turn left to enter the wooden Cattail Pond Trail. This quarter-mile loop circles Cattail Pond and features a detour to an observation deck on the Alley Creek. Continue the loop to pass through a meadow that attracts many bird species, and return to where you started. From here, the slightly longer Windmill Trail will take you on a forested walk around Windmill Pond. The pond and the trail owe their name to the 1870s-era agricultural windmill that remains standing near the pond.

Environmental Center staff can help you spot and identify the animals that may be outdoors during a given season. Inside, the Animal Room is a big hit with children. This mini-zoo introduces them to local snakes, birds, lizards, rabbits, gophers, and more. Remember: The reeds and wetlands leading up to the Alley Creek viewing deck attract insects in summer. It is advisable to bring insect repellent.

Plan B:

If you are driving and fancy a swim or some Civil War history, visit Fort Totten Park (Trip 48). If you’d like to feed animals and stock up on fresh produce, visit Queens County Farm Museum (Trip 50).

Where to Eat Nearby:

Shops and restaurants are along Northern Boulevard, and on Douglastown Parkway, which intersects Northern Boulevard heading east.


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