Mount Loretto Unique Area: Waterfront Walk
GOOD FOR: Ages 9-12

Source:Outdoors with Kids New York City (AMC Books)
Address:6450 Hylan Boulevard, Staten Island, NY
Hours:Dawn to dusk daily
Fee: Free
Contact:; 718-482-7287

Bathrooms: Portable toilet at the entrance
Water/Snacks: None

USGS Arthur Kill;

Mount Loretto is one of the first stops in New York State for northbound birds and butterflies in spring, and one of the last for those going south in winter.

The grasslands at Mount Loretto Unique Area attract many colorful birds and butterflies.
Photo by: Cheryl and William de Jong-Lambert

A New Yorker article about harbor seals returning to New York inspired us to visit Mount Loretto, a nearly 200-acre park and nature preserve with grasslands, wetlands, and a mile of shoreline. We didn’t encounter any seals, but we were impressed by the red-clay bluffs that are reputedly the only ones in the New York City area.

To enjoy the waterfront and the bluffs, walk, bike, or stroll south along the gravel path (Kenny Road to Beach Loop) that leads from the entrance gate to Raritan Bay on the horizon. At trail marker 8 on the left, a pond is obscured by shrubs. The grass here is a popular feeding spot for ducks. At any given moment, you may see more webbed feet than beaks, as the ducks dive into the muck to nibble for food.

When you reach the grassy stretch overlooking the shore, Sandy Hook, New Jersey, will be in the distance. The red-clay cliffs and beach will be beneath you, although you may not see much of the beach during high tide. Return to the gravel path and go left. You will pass a small shrine on your left. This is the only vestige of the property’s former owner, the Archdiocese of New York, which held the title from 1890 to 1999. A fire in 2000 destroyed the building here that had once served as orphanage dormitories and a hospital. The land is now under protection by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, allowing trees and tall grasses to erase traces of the area’s human history.

From the building site (marked by an informational sign), continue to the end of the path, then make the steep walk up to the Prince’s Bay Lighthouse. Built in 1828, and modernized from wood to brownstone in 1864, the lighthouse is fenced off and no longer used, but the views from the surrounding grounds are spectacular.

Remember: This route is the only one at Mount Loretto that permits bicycle riding.

Plan B:

Within the park, the Grassland and Wetlands trails are excellent nature hikes.

Where to Eat Nearby:

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


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