National Trails Day in Prospect Park
May 31, 2023
Be a Park Champion this National Trails Day in Prospect Park! Saturday, June 3, is the 31st annual National Trails Day, a day to celebrate your local trails alongside community members and pledge to leave your trail better than you found it every day of the year.
Prospect Park’s 585 acres are home to Brooklyn’s last remaining forest. These 250 acres of scenic woodlands, sustained by Prospect Park Alliance, are not only essential to the health of the park and the wildlife that call it home, but are also a source of wellness for our community.
Time in nature can reduce stress, improve your mood and boost your physical health, and getting out on the trails in Brooklyn’s Backyard is a wonderful way to reap these benefits. To make the most of all these trails have to offer, Prospect Park Track Club (PPTC) members share some of their favorite routes and tips for walkers and runners of all levels.
To join the National Trails Day movement, boost your health by taking a walk or run through one of Prospect Park’s scenic trails, and lend a hand to keep these woodland areas pristine and healthy. Be a Park Champion while enjoying the park’s natural beauty, by staying on paved or wood chip paths, keeping dogs leashed in woodland areas, admiring wildlife from a safe distance, and taking nothing from the park with you.
“What makes running or walking on Prospect Park’s trails so special are the unexpected delights—finding little waterfalls, coming upon a familiar part of the park from a different angle and taking a moment before you quite realize where you are,” said Lisa Knauer, one of PPTC’s Race Directors. “One of my favorite routes is climbing up Lookout Hill on a clear day and catching a glimpse of Coney Island.”
Another must-see walking or running route begins starting from Grand Army Plaza. Take the eastern pathway to the Endale Arch into the Long Meadow and follow along the hex-block path on the east side of the Long Meadow. Follow the path until it forks at a tall oak tree, and take the path on the left into the woodlands. Follow the trail until you reach another fork, and take the wide stone steps on your left and then turn right down another set of steps. At the bottom you’ll find the little-known Boulder Bridge, a historic bridge that was recreated by the Alliance in the 1990s as part of the larger restoration of the Ravine. The view from this bridge is one of the most scenic in the park. After enjoying the view, return to the path and continue to the right of Boulder Bridge, down a few more steps. At the bottom you will find a small octagonal footprint of a structure where an old rustic shelter once stood. Take in the view of the gorge below, and then continue down the steps until you reach Rock Arch Bridge and Ambergill Falls, one of several waterfalls that were designed by park creators Olmsted and Vaux. Continue down the path until it forks, and then turn right and head up the sloping path back toward the Long Meadow and enjoy the towering trees and wildlife sightings along the way.
You also won’t want to miss recent scenic additions in the heart of Prospect Park’s woodlands—including a rustic trail just off Center Drive thanks to the 2021 summer cohort of the Prospect Park Alliance Woodlands Youth Crew, whose vital restoration work transformed this part of the park. This trail now offers park goers a chance to see the top of the Lullwater, a view of Brooklyn’s Backyard that was previously inaccessible to park visitors.
As part of the Prospect Park Alliance’s woodland restoration work in the Vale, the team also installed a new rustic rail trail, which leads visitors to two sites that are currently being restored: the Rose Garden to the Children’s Pool, inviting visitors to take a meandering route through the woods while staying on path.
“Right in Brooklyn’s Backyard, exploring the trails in Prospect Park can make you feel a world away from the busy city,” said PPTC Board member Katie Claiborne. By making the most of your time in nature, staying active and practicing good stewardship this National Trails Day and every day, you are helping Brooklyn’s wildlife and community thrive.
Ready to get out on the trail and #BeAParkChampion? Learn more about programs offered by Prospect Park Track Club in Brooklyn’s Backyard. Plus, enjoy family-friendly nature walks at the Prospect Park Audubon Center.