Arden Woods Park is a bare-bones passive park with no features other than a few hiking trails, but it's worth the visit for pups and people who like ruffin' it. This 200-acre park is just south of the Staten Island Greenbelt and is home to the largest wetlands preserve in New York City.
Arden Woods Park can be a little hard to find, as there is currently no official signage or park entrance. Right now, there are a few dedicated gravel parking spots along Legate Avenue near a couple of trail access points. You'll know you're in the right place when you see signs reminding you to clean up after your dog. If you have a carrier to bring your dog onto the bus, you can use one of several bus stops a short walk away from the Legate Avenue access points. A project is under way to establish a trailhead on Arden Avenue with more amenities including a parking lot and designated bus stop.
In this forested hardwood swamp, you'll be surrounded by birdsong and sheltered by mature trees. Streams flow into ponds formed by retreating glaciers. Sun glints off hidden pool, and fuzzy purple pickerelweed flowers grow near the water's edge. Small mammals and salamanders scurry through the underbrush. Frogs croak and peep from creeksides as dragonflies flit by. Overhead, hawks, bats, and owls hunt, including great horned, saw-whet, and barn owls. Sheltering the wetlands, the successional forests of Arden Woods include hemlock, persimmon, and white pine trees.
Leashes are not only required here, but wise, as wandering dogs could end up stuck in a bog or falling through thin ice in the winter. You'll also want to use bug spray and check yourself and your dog for ticks before heading home. Don't forget to bring your own waste bags and water.
After a day walking through Arden Woods Park, you and your pup will go home feeling that much wilder and more connected to the natural world.