Here’s a guide to the best NYC parks for multi-colored magic, including white oak trees whose leaves turn purple, and maples whose reds, oranges and yellow epitomize fall color.
Great places to start are Central Park’s Literary Walk and around the Bow Bridge, and Prospect Park’s Pond. Find the borough-by-borough listing on the NYC Parks Dept. website.
You can also take a hike with NYC’s Urban Park Rangers, who lead guided tours year-round in parks in all five borouughs.
Manhattan – Inwood Hill Park
Trees to see: oak, hickory, Tulip poplars
Suggested routes: There’s no wrong place to go leaf-peeping in Inwood Hill Park, at the northern tip of Manhattan (where I grew up). One recommended route is along the blue trail, a marked trail that picks up at the Gaelic Field in the northern side of the park and leads up to the Overlook, which will give you a gorgeous view of the Hudson River and the Palisades.
Brooklyn – Fort Greene Park
Trees to see: Massive London plane trees, oaks, elms, gingkos, osage orange trees
Suggested routes: The park is small enough that you can meander through the whole thing. Just don’t forget to climb to its apex and check out the view from the hill.
Bronx – Van Cortlandt Park
Trees to see: oaks, hickorys
Suggested routes: Van Cortlandt is filled with nature trails that pass through gorgeous native hardwoods, including the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail, the Putnam Trail, the Muir Trail, and the John Kieran Trail.
Queens – Alley Pond Park
Trees to see: Pin oaks, white pine, black cherries, black oak, flowering dogwood, black locust, American beech, red oaks, sweetgum, red maple, tulip trees
Suggested routes: You can choose between several of the park’s official walking paths, although the most popular are the green trail and the white trail. The green trail is especially tree-filled, surrounded by tulip trees and some sassafrass. Those that venture down the white trail will get to see the Queens Giant.
Don’t miss: Alley Pond Park is home to the Queens Giant, the which at 133 feet high is the tallest tree in New York City and possibly the oldest living thing in the metropolitan area.
Staten Island – Greenbelt
Trees to see: oak, hickory, beech, maple, sweetgum, and tulip trees
Suggested routes: This natural treasure in the heart of Staten Island has some 35 miles of walking trails along the crest of the Serpentine Ridge and through one of the last undisturbed forests in New York City. You’ll see a wide variety of native trees, as well as a rare species of fern, glacial ponds, and a 16-acre lake. Keep your eyes peeled for any animals and birds making their home in the forest.
Other great spots for fall foilage are the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, the New York Botanical Garden, and Cherry Walk along the Hudson River.
What’s your favorite NYC spot for fall foilage?
photos courtesy NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation