When people from outside of the Bronx think of our borough, green spaces and nature may not immediately come to mind. But the Bronx and the other four boroughs of New York City contain some of the most impressive green urban oases in the United States. Our Bronx construction injury lawyers like to escape to these spaces for day trips over the weekend when we’re stuck in the city. One of our favorite green spaces in the city is right here in the Bronx at the famous Van Cortlandt Park. We recently took a weekend trip here and thought we’d share some of our favorite aspects of this park.
Spanning 1,146 acres, Van Cortlandt Park is the third-largest park in NYC. With so many activities, attractions, sights, and sounds, you can discover something new every time you visit. If you’re looking for some time outdoors after a visit to our personal injury law offices in the Bronx, here are some of our favorite ways to kill time at Van Cortland Park:
Van Cortlandt Park is chock full of fun recreational activities. There’s a free public pool for use in the summer months, along with designated barbeque areas. This makes the park a perfect location for family cookouts on summer weekends.
Like any good park, there is no shortage of areas designated for athletics and physical activity, including:
- 4 playgrounds designed for kids 12 and under
- 17 baseball and softball fields
- 3 half-court and 5 full-court basketball courts
- 2 bicycle baths
- 2 bocce courts
- 11 cricket fields
- Parade Ground (66 acres of athletic facilities)
- 2 golf courses
- and more
These facilities can be used both for organized leagues and spontaneous pickup games. During a family BBQ, the kids can blow off some steam here while the adults talk over beers and burgers.
Van Cortlandt Park features some of the last remaining plots of natural woodlands in New York City. After walking around the grounds and exploring these natural features, it’s easy to forget that you’re in one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas.
Some highlights of nature to be discovered throughout the park include:
- Van Cortland Lake – The largest freshwater lake in the Bronx. A popular spot for recreational fishers with a diverse ecosystem including largemouth bass, yellow perch, brown bullhead, white sucker, bluegill, golden shiner, pumpkinseed, and common carp. This lake is 4-8 feet deep and has an area of 18 acres.
- Forests – The park contains several old-growth forests with a diverse range of tree species and local wildlife. Geology lovers can discover tree species like black oak, tuliptree, red maple, hickory, beech, cherry birch, and sweetgum. Animal lovers can observe owls, bats, coyotes, opossums, chipmunks, groundhogs, gypsy moths, raccoons, and rabbits. Butterfly enthusiasts can observe over 130 species throughout the park.
This park is a favorite among local hikers, and for good reason. Van Cortlandt Park contains five major hiking trails, which cater to hikers of all skill levels:
- Cass Gallagher Nature Trail – Located near the horse stables, this 1.4 mile trail is a bit of a challenge. A moderate/difficult trail.
- John Kieran Trail – This 1.25 mile park is near the lake and an easy trail for hikers of all skill levels.
- John Muir Trail – 1.5 miles and moderate difficulty.
- Old Croton Aqueduct Trail – 1.1 miles and easy/moderate difficulty.
- Putnam Trail – 1.5 miles and easy difficulty.
Van Cortlandt House
Erected by Frederck Van Cortlandt in 1748, the historic Van Cortlandt House is the centerpiece of the park. It’s the oldest surviving building in the Bronx. The family sold the home and land to the City of New York in 1886. Ten years later, it was converted into a museum which showcased the culture and lifestyle of 18th-century America. The house has been designated as a National Historic Landmark since 1976.