The two-mile round-trip Arden Woods Trail will take you and your dog through pristine centuries-old forests and wetlands. If you want to escape the urban landscape and head into the wilderness, this rugged but accessible trail on Staten Island is a great choice. If you're using public transportation, you can take local buses from within Staten Island or an express bus or the Staten Island Ferry from Manhattan or Brooklyn. Your dog will need to be in a carrier to ride the bus, and muzzled or in a carrier to ride the ferry.
If you have a car, you can park in one of the simple gravel spaces near one of two trail access points on Legate Avenue. You'll find one near Carlton Boulevard and the other near Halpin Avenue. Neither are very well marked, but you'll know you're in the right spot when you see signs reminding you to clean up after your dog. Remember to bring your own waste bags and water! A project is currently under way to establish a trailhead on Arden Avenue with dedicated parking and a bus stop connector.
Arden Woods is a mix of woods and wetlands that biologists classify as a forested hardwood swamp ecosystem. The forests that grow in this wetland system are called successional forests for the way they develop over time. In mature parts of the woods, hemlock, cherry, persimmon, and white pine trees grow. Beautiful blue flag iris blooms along the trail from May to July. Streams burble in the background, connecting natural kettle ponds that were formed by glaciers during the Ice Age.
Wildlife is abundant along the Arden Woods Trail. Many local and migrating birds make their homes in these woods, including hawks, warblers, and several species of owls. Screech, saw-whet, great horned, and barn owls all hunt here. You and Spot might also spot deer, salamanders, frogs, or small mammals along the way. There are sensory delights to enjoy in each season in Arden Woods, including berries in summer, colorful leaves in fall, and snowy scenes in winter. Beware of stepping too far off the trail, though. Ticks are a hazard in summer and thin ice is a danger for humans and dogs alike in winter.
If you want to be surprised by just how wild life in NYC can be, don't hesitate to bring your dog to Arden Woods.