New York Botanical Garden

Take an unexpected turn during your visit to this renowned garden to see an old-growth forest and the only freshwater river in New York City.

Quick Info:

Distance: 2 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Map: See bottom of page

The commute:

Though NYBG has a usual entrance fee of $20+, you can get in for FREE with a NYC ID or if you go on a Wednesday.

Getting there:

Take the B (weekdays only) or the D train to Bedford Park Boulevard and walk down the hill on Bedford Park Blvd for about 10 minutes until you reach Southern Blvd. Now turn left and walk one block to the Mosholu Gate. Alternatively, you can take the Metro North - Harlem Line to the Botanical Garden stop.

The hike:

1. From the Mosholu Gate, follow the main path past beautiful gardens and tall trees. When you come to the roundabout with a sculpture, keep left and continue until you see a sign for the Mitsubishi Wild Wetland Trail.

2. Turn right and follow this path, which becomes a boardwalk through a swamp full of frogs.

Frog at NYBG (2)

3. When you come to a picnic area, turn around and backtrack to the start of the Wetland Trail. Now turn right and walk over to a sign for the Thain Family Forest.

4. Pick up the trail here, which leads you into an old growth forest home to trees that are hundreds of years old. According to the NYBG website, this is the largest uncut expanse of forest left in NYC.

5. Continue straight, following the "Bridge Trail to Orientation Point and Hester Bridge". After about 5-10 minutes this trail will head downhill and drop you off at an intersection.

6. Now turn left and take a detour on the Overlook Trail. Here you'll have elevated views of the Bronx River, the only freshwater river in New York City. Once heavily polluted, this 24 mile long river has made an incredible comeback in the last few decades.

7. When the Overlook Trail comes to a dead end, double back to the intersection. Now cross the bridge, giving you a view high above the river as it flows through a rocky gorge. It's hard to believe that this is really the Bronx!

Bridge over the Bronx River (7)

8. Once across the bridge, turn left (If you're here during cherry blossom season you might want to take a pause here) to follow the waterfall trail. Once down the stairs, turn right and you'll come to a rushing waterfall.

9. Once you've seen the falls, retrace your steps up the stairs and over the bridge. Once back at the intersection, turn left onto the Sweetgum Trail. This trail leads you through a grove of hemlocks, which once covered this forest until a pest sadly wiped them out.

10. When you pass over a stream, turn left onto the Mill View Trail. Then turn left again at the split up ahead. You'll now pass under a bridge and come right up to the river.

At the banks of the Bronx River (10)

11. Double back to the bridge intersection. Now take a left to head up the steps. If you continue straight you'll soon leave the forest. The day is yours, and you can explore the rest of this amazing garden!