I’ve grown up in Brooklyn, NY my whole life. College was the first time I really met ‘outdoorsy’ people. Although I loved the sound of an outdoor lifestyle it just didn’t feel like the concrete jungle made it an easy way to live. When my friends in NYC wanted to plan a hiking trip it always seemed to turn into a weekend event – some trail they had heard about in Upstate New York that would take hours to drive to. None of these trips ever ended up happening for one reason or another. Instead, I settled for meetups in Central Park with old friends and shin-splint inducing runs on concrete sidewalks. This summer, however, I did a little research and found a hiking opportunity right in Queens, NY! I immediately sent the link over to a friend and in a few days we met up for a Park Ranger-led nature hike in Forest Park near the Woodhaven section of Queens.
It probably doesn’t take much to excite me nature-wise, what with my limited experience actually being in nature, but still the walk was awesome. First, I couldn’t stop marveling at how soft the earth was. If I could run on that I would have avoided getting tendinitis in one shin during my jogging days! Then there were the three sweet and well-informed female Park Rangers that led us on our walk. They provided lots of information and bug spray pre-hike and I was surprised that the Visitor Center was packed with nature walk attendees. As a group we learned about the various plants, trees and animals in Forest Park. I was shocked when 5 minutes into our walk we were warned that there was in fact poison ivy along the trail. The Rangers pointed out what poison ivy looked like but I still was more than cautious the rest of the way – – I didn’t want to chance coming into contact with the plant. There was even a point when someone’s leg came into contact with a plant causing it to jolt forward and then backward. I was right behind this person and as the plant swung toward me and I jumped back so quickly I amused myself.
For all of the complaining I do about living in New York City this is a moment where I have to agree the city really does have a lot to offer. If you’re Googling ‘outdoor activities in New York City’ or specifically interested in finding fun park activities in NYC then I recommend checking out http://www.nycgovparks.org/events There you can find free and low-cost events such as yoga, kayaking, pastel drawing, etc. in parks across any of New York City’s five boroughs. Looking for less common activities where you live is the kind of advice that’s good for just about anyone, really. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from traveling is the importance of being a tourist in your own city.