Greenbelt Nature Center
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids New York City (AMC Books)
Address:700 Rockland Avenue, Staten Island, NY
Hours:10 A.M. to 5 P.M. Tuesday through Sunday, April to October
Fee: Free
Contact:; 718-351-3450

Bathrooms: Nature center
Water/Snacks: Water fountain in nature center

USGS Arthur Kill and The Narrows;

The Greenbelt Nature Center trails are ideal for young children who are ready to try hopping across flat rocks or balancing on the occasional log crossing.

Beech trees abound at Greenbelt Nature Center.
Photo by: Jerry and Marcy Monkman

Two bands of contiguous parks totaling 2,800 acres compose the Staten Island Greenbelt, with the nature center at its hub. This vast tract—the largest wooded area in New York City—offers 35 miles of hiking trails that range from easy to moderate.

Start at the nature center, which features displays on the ecosystem—wetland, forest, tree canopy—of the Greenbelt. The center also offers educational programs for toddlers, teens, adults, and seniors, and is a city composting demonstration site. The easy, mile-long Nature Center Trail begins to the left (east) of the modern and information-packed center. The trail is marked by a white N painted in a blue square on trees throughout. After you cross a wooden footbridge, a dirt path immediately takes you into a thick canopy of mature trees. Several hundred yards into the walk, you will see an E blaze (a blue E painted in a white square on a large tree) for a trail heading to the left. This is a short, beginner trail that is good for preschool children.

To complete Nature Center Trail, continue on the N path, which gets narrow at points, until you reach Blue Trail, which in this link doubles as the N. Turn right and follow it through a native fern garden and among towering birch and beech trees. In spring, numerous types of wildflowers and songbirds thrive here because of the ponds that lie off the trail. The trail ultimately forms a semicircle that leads back to the nature center.

Another option is Multipurpose Trail, a wide, crushed-gravel, pedestrianfriendly trail that is great for biking (the only Greenbelt trail on which biking is permitted). The trail is mostly flat and begins near the intersection of Rockland Avenue and Forest Hill Road, due west of the nature center entrance, and runs along Forest Hill Road to Richmond Avenue. Experienced hikers could also try the full 12.3-mile Blue Trail, which takes you up to Todt Hill (410 feet), the highest point of elevation on the eastern seaboard between Maine and Florida.

Remember: A branch of Multipurpose Trail also runs east toward Historic Richmond Town (Trip 59).

Plan B:

From May through October, the Carousel for All Children, in nearby Willowbrook Park at Eton Place off Richmond Avenue, is a fun destination.

Where to Eat Nearby:

If you are driving, visit the shops and restaurants along Victory Boulevard. A number of restaurants are outside the Staten Island Mall, at Richmond Avenue and Ring Road.


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