I love the name Alley Pond Park; it conjures up images of urban grittiness, and its location does nothing to dispel that. It is bordered and criss-crossed by some heavily-trafficked thoroughfares including the Long Island Expressway, Grand Central Parkway and the Cross Island Parkway. This place is loud, loud, loud, but if you can get over the constant drone of the traffic, it is also quite lovely. I only explored the part north of the Long Island Expressway which is mainly wetlands with a few woodland trails. I think this is a park to be done in two parts, as it is essentially chopped in half by the Long Island Expressway which makes getting from one end to the other arduous. However, the top half afforded me almost 4 hours worth of exploration and some lovely sights. There is a Conservation Centre at the top of the park which offers all kinds of family and school programmes and several trails have boardwalks making it easily accessible for those not so steady on their feet. If you push on further, there are a few squelchy, rocky, clambering trails for braver souls. This is not a place for strenuous hiking; to me it feels a little tame and the noise pollution is really invasive, but it has some wonderful wildlife and is a great one for the kids.
The place is teaming with birds; I saw more birds here than I have in any other park in New York to date. Here are a few I spotted today.
There was an added bonus to the day.