One of NYC’s best-kept secrets is open to the public on a regular basis again, after 67 years. The Hallett Nature Sanctuary covers four acres of the southeast corner of Central Park, steps from busy Fifth Avenue and the Apple Retail Store.
It was fenced off and closed in 1934 by Robert Moses, then the NYC Parks commissioner, to create a bird sanctuary. It was open ever since for visits only to those in the know, by reservation only, a few times a year.
Hallett Nature Sanctuary re-opened this past spring with regular hours, and no reservations needed to enjoy the serenity, greenery, and wildlife, including birds.
However – to protect its pristine nature, only 20 people at a time will be allowed, so expect to wait your turn to get in and enjoy the flora and fauna – and the birds and other wildlife which have flocked to Hallett over the years.
- July 1 – August 31
Monday & Friday: 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Wednesday: 2:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Sunday: 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Self-guided tours – like Central Park itself – are FREE. There also are ticketed tours with a Central Park Conservancy expert.
It’s taken Central Park Conservancy volunteers and gardeners more than ten years to get Hallett ready for visitors. Simply, like any garden or even an empty lot that been left untended for many years, it was an overgrown mess. Invasive species were removed and native species replanted. Walking paths were upgraded, and a new rustic wooden gate replaces the unfriendly chain link fence that used to be there.
The four-acre Hallett Nature Sanctuary is from 60th – 62nd Streets, in between Wollman Rink and The Pond. No groups, dogs, bikes or strollers are permitted. You’ll be walking along uneven woodland terrain, including on wood chips, so sturdy shoes are recommended. Flip flops are strongly discouraged.
Hallett is one of three natural woodlands in Central Park. The others are The Ramble, on the west side, and North Woods, at the northern edge.
Read more about the reopening of the Hallett Nature Sanctuary in this article in this NY Times.
photos courtesy Central Park Conservancy