HikeNYC: Staten Island Greenbelt's High Rock Park

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High Rock Park hike is written and photographed by NYC Native, Galen Oettel, founder of HikeNYC. HikeNYC finds nature trails near you in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island.


The Greenbelt - High Rock Park

For just one MetroCard transfer (and a ferry ride), you can find yourself in a sprawling nature preserve with miles of trails for exploring Staten Island's hidden natural beauty.

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Quick Info:

Distance: 3 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Quick advice:

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The Greenbelt is huge and it's easy to get lost, so be sure you know how to read blazes (markings on trees telling you which way to go). These are the symbols you'll see:

Getting there:

Take the 1, R, or W train to South Ferry/Whitehall Street or the 4 to Bowling Green and take the Staten Island Ferry (which is free). Once you've made it to the other side, catch the Staten Island Railroad (good with a MetroCard transfer) to New Dorp station. From the station, turn left onto New Dorp Ln (or right onto Rose Ave, depending on which exit you took) and walk until you reach Richmond Rd. Cross and turn left onto Richmond Rd. Follow this street until you reach Summit Ave, then turn right. After walking through the suburbs of NYC for a few more minutes you'll reach the entrance to the park.

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The Hike:

1. Once you've entered the park, walk straight ahead and pick up the trail. Almost immediately you'll pass a pond complete with frogs resting on lily pads and an army of dragonflies buzzing around.

2. Turn right and follow blue blazes for about 5-10 minutes until you reach a paved area with bathrooms. Walk ahead to where the path splits and turn left (briefly saying goodbye to the blue trail). Now go left again at a wide junction and follow the path down to a beautiful picnic area. If you brought a lunch, this is the place to eat it!

3. From the picnic area you can pick up the purple trail, which loops around a lush swamp full of plants and animals.

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4. Once you've completed the loop around the swamp and returned to the picnic area, your next move is to take the yellow trail (make sure you take the yellow trail to your left, not the yellow/green blazed trail on your right).

5. Follow the yellow blazes (blue blazes will show up as well) for 5-10 minutes and you'll come to a deck overlooking Pump House Pond.

6. Walk around Pump House Pond and cross the bridge. Next you'll come up to the marshy Hourglass Pond, offering more chances to spot wildlife.

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7. You can now double back and follow the blue/yellow trail back the way you came. In about 5 minutes, this trail will split multiple different ways. This time choose the trail farthest to your right instead of sticking on the blue/yellow trail.

8. This will bring you to views of the beautiful Lake Ohrbach. With a lakehouse and canoe launch across the water, it's easy to trick yourself that you're in the countryside.

9. Once you've seen the lake, you can now retrace your steps to the junction and pick up the blue trail to return to where you started the hike.

In 5-10 minutes you'll pass back through the paved area and soon after see the pond from before. Turn left at the pond and you'll return to civilization -- did you miss people and cars yet? Now you can retrace your steps to the New Dorp station and catch the St. George bound SIR home.

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