There are six major Greenbelt trails that offer diverse hiking experiences for people of all abilities. Four woodland trails, on which bicycles and motorized vehicles are prohibited, are identified by the color of their blaze marks.
Each trail crosses different terrain and offers a unique experience. In drier zones, red and black oaks, tulip, beech and hickory trees are common. Moister soils support red maples, white swamp oak and willow trees. Because of Staten Island’s temperate climate, some traditionally “southern” species – such as persimmon and sweet gum – thrive along the trails.
The Greenbelt multipurpose trail is wider and flatter than the park’s woodland trails; much of it is visible from LaTourette golf course. The Nature Center trail is a short expanse, easily accessible from the Center’s parking area. Several other shorter trails and pathways, such as High Rock Park’s Red Dot and the Gretta Moulton trail compliment the main trail system. Review the Greenbelt map for trail elevations, locations and ease/difficulty rating.
- Easy: Flat terrain.
- Moderate: Mostly flat terrain with some inclines.
- Difficult: Hilly, with some flat areas.
This easy-to-moderate 12.3-mile long trail ascends from Staten Island Boulevard and crosses the crest of Todt Hill, one of the highest points on the Eastern Seaboard between Maine and Florida.
The southern end of this easy-to-moderate 7.6-mile long trail connects to Great Kills Park, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. The northern tip is in Willowbrook Park. The White Trail passes through Egbertville Ravine, Heyerdahl Hill and Buck’s Hollow. The trail also passes the Greenbelt Nature Center, which, at the halfway point, is a great place to stop for a break.
This easy-to-moderate 4-mile long loop trail is in the heart of the Greenbelt; it crosses over Buck’s Hollow, Heyerdahl Hill, the northern edge of LaTourette golf course and the neighborhood of Lighthouse Hill. This trail has an extension leading downhill to Historic Richmondtown near St. Patrick’s Place.
This moderate-to-difficult 8-mile long trail brings hikers through Reeds Basket Willow Swamp. It ascends Todt Hill, then parallels the Blue Trail. Moses’ Mountain is located off the Yellow Trail off Rockland Avenue near High Rock Park.
The Nature Center Trail
The one-mile long Nature Center Trail begins at “Mitchell Crossing,” the wooden footbridge on the eastern edge of the Nature Center grounds. The semi-circular trail leads to a native fern garden stretching out under a canopy of tall tulip, beech and birch trees. In spring, Canada mayflower, trout lilies and wild violets proliferate. Observant hikers may get a glimpse of chipmunks, moles, a large variety of songbirds, and perhaps the occasional white-tailed or red-tailed hawk. In the spring, you can hear the call of spring peepers in the vernal ponds along the trail. The level terrain and short distance is suitable for novice hikers. A leg of this trail known as the “E Trail” was designed for the little steps of our early childhood visitors.
The multipurpose trail differs greatly from Greenbelt woodland trails. This new, pedestrian-friendly trail is also the only trail on which bike-riding is permitted. The mostly flat 2.6 mile circuit has a crushed gravel surface and six-foot wide walkways. It extends westward from Rockland Avenue along Forest Hill Road hugging the perimeter of LaTourette golf course toward Richmond Avenue. The Yellow and Blue trails intersect the multipurpose trail here (see trail map). About midway, a leg of the trail branches off toward Historic Richmond Town/St. Andrews Church at Old Mill Road at the base of Richmond Hill Road (aka Snake Hill). The multipurpose trail has been a boon to the running community and recreational walkers and cyclists. Segments of it are utilized for the Greenbelt’s annul Cold Feat 10K race in February.
The Greenbelt is open 365 days a year, from dawn to dusk. Some parking areas may close earlier, so please check signs.
Hike Safely and Respectfully
Hike responsibly by respecting other park visitors, the natural environment and wildlife. Littering, fire-building and alcohol consumption are forbidden in all New York City parks. New York City leash and clean-up laws apply to park land. New York City Park rules and regulations can be found here.
It is recommended that visitors hike with a friend or in a group, bring a cell phone, water and appropriate clothing. Before setting out, it is always a good idea to let someone know your plans. Don’t leave valuables in your car.
Remain on marked trails to avoid contact with poison ivy or tics. Dowload an important flyer about staying away from animals in the park.