Alley Pond Park may be one of the best-kept secrets in New York. It’s far enough from Manhattan that it remains less crazy than Central Park, or even Prospect Park, but it’s close enough that it’s worth the trip, and it’s not as hard to get to as some of the more far-flung outdoor adventure destinations in the area.
What Makes It Great
Despite the fact that Alley Pond Park is actually situated in-between four major highways—the Grand Central Parkway, and Cross-Island Parkway, and the Long Island Expressway—once you get into the trails, it’s hardly noticeable.
There are some paved paths, some fire roads, and plenty of singletrack. None of the trails are terribly long, and they’re admittedly not well marked, so finding your way around is more of an adventure run than a run with a map in your pocket and a planned route.
Even the trail map that you can get at the Environmental Center in the main park area isn’t very accurate, and doesn’t account for a lot of the singletrack trails. You’ll run around ponds, through wetlands, and through swathes of forest that make you think you’ll never find your way out. With over 650 acres of park, it’s expansive enough that even if you never run more than a mile on a trail, you can make those trails add up into an impressive run, and all without being too far from the comfort station at the park’s entrance. It’s a great way for beginner trail runners to work on their running skills without the fear of getting lost or hurt in the wilderness.
The trails are fun and fast, and it’s definitely worth the trip. If you want a longer run, you can add in the 2.5 mile Vanderbilt Motor Parkway—a bike path—and take it to Cunningham Park, which has even more trails begging to be traversed.
In the summer, check out the obstacle course, zip line and rock climbing—and it’s free on Sundays in the summer, though you have to register first.
Who is Going to Love It
The terrain has something for everyone, other than dedicated road runners who hate the dirt.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
To get to the park, take the 7 train to Main Street in Flushing, then transfer to the Q12 bus to Northern Boulevard. If you can drive, parking is available and free. The best solution by far though is to ride a bike to the park, lock it, and head out on your run.