Venture far into the outskirts of Queens to explore a park with beautiful forests, an expansive wetland, and a picturesque lake.
Distance: 3.5 miles
Map: See bottom of page
Take the 7 train to its last stop, Flushing/Main Street. If you've left yourself enough time, explore the neighborhood and get a bite to eat. Catch the Q27 bus on Main Street, in front of the HSBC bank. Get off the bus at the intersection of 73rd Ave and Springfield Boulevard.
1. Walk up the stairs to enter the park and immediately turn left. Now you'll walk along a large field. Take a right ahead, in the direction of a playground. When you approach the playground, take a left and you'll pass bathrooms. Keep straight and you'll soon be brought into the Alley Woodlands.
2. In about a minute you'll come to a split in the path, turn right. Then keep left to follow a white NYC Parks marker. Now stairs will bring you downhill past a beautiful grove of rhododendrons.
3. Keep right at the coming split, then go straight through an intersection. Here is Little Alley Pond, where you're likely to see dozens of bullfrogs peering out at you. Their bellowing call - which could be mistaken for a lightsaber - is unmistakable.
4. Once you've seen the pond, turn around and go right. If you're here in the spring, you'll pass a swampy area full of more frogs.
5. Next is a T in the path, turn left here and pass the bathrooms. Now take another left, then a right at a wide T, and you'll walk with the Alley Pond Adventure Course to your right. Keep right ahead through a series of splits, returning you to the forest.
6. After a minute, turn left to follow orange NYC Parks markers. Turn left at the coming split, then go right at a T to continue following the Orange Trail. A pond will come into view on your left.
7. Turn right ahead to stick with the Orange Trail. The path will now lead down some steps to the swampy Decodon Pond, covered in lush vegetation.
8. Continue straight on the Orange Trail, passing by more views of the pond.
9. Now turn left and you'll come to a white marked trail. Turn right onto the White Trial, which will soon bring you out to the street.
10. To continue your hike, go right to cross West Alley Rd. Now head left to follow East Hampton Boulevard. Soon you'll see the start of the Purple Trail, which brings you back into the forest.
11. The Purple Trail unfortunately starts by taking you along a noisy highway (blame Robert Moses for that). Among the trees is the "Alley Pond Giant" -- thought to be the tallest tree in the city! Heads up -- don't get tricked into thinking that metal turtle is real (I certainly did).
12. After a mile of walking, the Purple Trail will bring you back out to the street. Now turn right and walk down the hill to Oakland Lake. This pretty body of water is home to swans.
13. When you're done exploring the lake, return to the street; you've got one more destination to hit. Cross over Cloverdale Boulevard and turn left. Walk up the street until you reach the busy Northern Boulevard.
14. Now turn right, following a sign for the Alley Pond Environmental Center. After a few minutes of walking along the highway you'll reach the park's environmental center.
15. Cross the lot to pick up the Yellow Trail at a wooden boardwalk. This will take you through a swamp and out to an expansive salt marsh surrounding Alley Creek. Follow the boardwalk all the way out to the observation deck, where you'll have a chance to see wildlife including ospreys and egrets.
16. After you've sufficiently taken in the scenery, retrace your steps back to the highway. When no cars are coming, safely cross over Northern Boulevard. Here you can wait for the Q12 bus, which will take you back to the 7 train at Flushing/Main Street.