By Jacob E. Osterhout AND Amanda P. Sidman / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, link to original post
FORT TRYON PARK
741 Fort Washington Ave., Manhattan
Yes, the trails are paved and the sounds of nature can be hard to hear over traffic from the Henry Hudson Parkway more than a hundred feet below, but a walk through the 3 acres of Fort Tryon Park in spring is as close to heaven as a nature lover gets in New York City. Plus, when the pollen really begins to aggravate allergy sufferers, you can always duck into the Cloisters, a medieval monastery that houses the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s uptown branch. Unicorn tapestries? check. Blossoming rhododendrons? Check. After exiting the A train at 190th St., wind your way north through the Billings Lawn and Pine Lawn, making sure not to miss Heather Garden, the largest public garden with unrestricted access in the city. A loop around this Washington Heights park takes a little more than an hour and provides spectacular views of the Hudson River, the George Washington Bridge and the rooftops of the Bronx. Long an overgrown afterthought, the Alpine Garden on the eastern side of this oasis was recently restored, guiding visitors up and down a 150-foot slope complete with mossy rock outcroppings.
KAZIMIROFF NATURE TRAIL IN PELHAM BAY PARK
1 Orchard Beach Road, Bronx
Located in the northeast corner of the Bronx, Pelham Bay Park is New York City’s largest municipal park, containing 2,765 acres of land. That’s over three times as big as Central Park and provides ample opportunity for New Yorkers to stretch their legs. The Kazimiroff Nature Trail, named for local dentist and wildlife advocate Theodore Kazimiroff (1914-1980), begins on the north side of the massive Orchard Beach parking lot and takes hikers on a 2-plus-mile loop of 189-acre Hunter Island. Along the way, you pass through meadows, forests, salt marshes and rocky shorelines. If you’re lucky, you might even catch sight of great horned owls, which live in the white pines and Norway spruces.
MIDWOOD TRAIL IN PROSPECT PARK
Lincoln Road/Ocean Ave. entrance of Prospect Park, Brooklyn
Deep in the heart of New York’s most populous borough lies Brooklyn’s oldest remaining forest, called Midwood. The appropriately named Midwood trail, which begins and ends at the Prospect Park Audubon Center, takes visitors on an easy 30-minute walk through tulip trees and towering red, black, white and pine oaks. For three-quarters of a mile, nature lovers will forget the surrounding city, isolating themselves in a canopy of trees that are hundreds of years old. And unlike other trails that are haphazardly marked, the Midwood Trail is not only easily navigable but also provides interpretive sign panels to educate the walking public.