Pelham Bay Park

Updated: Feb 9, 2021

New York City's largest park offers some of its most breathtaking scenery, including a rocky coastline on the Long Island Sound that could easily be mistaken for Maine.

Quick Info:

Distance: 4 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Map: See bottom of page

The commute:

Take the 6 train to its last stop: Pelham Bay Park. Because Orchard Beach is such a popular destination, on summer days the Bx12 bus picks up beach goers across the street from the train and drops them off right at the beach.

If you've come during the off-season, you'll need to settle for the City Island bound Bx29 bus, which also picks up outside of the 6 train. Get off the bus at the City Island traffic circle (if you're not sure just ask the bus driver where to get off for Orchard Beach). Once off the bus, follow signs for Orchard Beach. After about 15 minutes of following a path along the road you'll come to a huge parking lot, and then soon after see the beach promenade.

The hike:

1. Once you've reached the Orchard Beach promenade, go left and walk along the promenade to the very end of the beach. If you're here on a warm summer day, you'll likely have to fight your way through an army of beach goers.

Orchard Beach (1)

2. When you've reached the farthest end of the beach, walk down to the water and follow along the rocky shore of Twin Islands.

Rocky coastline of Twin Islands (2)

3. The scenery here could be mistaken for Maine, with seabirds flying by and boats and islands dotting the Long Island Sound.

4. As the shore curves around and becomes marshy, you'll see a small island. If the tide is low enough, you should be able to walk out and explore it.

Twin Islands become marshy (3)

4. Continuing on, you'll pass through some woods and then return to the Orchard Beach promenade. From here, head to your right and walk until you see a sign for the Kazimiroff Nature Trail. Now turn right and ahead you'll see a trailhead signified by NYC Parks markers.

5. The Kazimiroff Nature Trail will bring you into the dense woods of Hunter Island, full of ferns, wildflowers, and small ponds. On your right are beautiful views of the Long Island Sound.

6. Stick to the shoreline as you continue on, avoiding paths on your left that lead farther into the woods (unless you want to look for the owls that live here). As the trail starts to bend around, keep an eye out for a boardwalk leading to another island worth exploring.

7. Back on the main trail, it won't be much longer before a side trail leads to another rocky area with more awesome views (seems like the theme of this hike, huh?).

Mudflats along Hunter Island (7)

8. Next you'll pass a marsh of tall reeds and come to the Lagoon, where you might see shorebirds or an osprey on the hunt. Diving ducks are frequent here in the winter.

9. Eventually you'll reach the Orchard Beach parking lot to conclude your hike. From here, you can cross the parking lot and either catch the Bx12 or walk back to the traffic circle and wait for the Bx29.