- Public transportation: Long Island Railroad to the Bayside stop and walk east to Bell Boulevard to catch the Q13 or Q31 to 35th Avenue. Walk east approximately three blocks to the park. Alternatively, to visit Joe Michael’s Mile, follow directions to the Alley Pond Environmental Center.
- Car: Northern Boulevard to Bell Boulevard, northbound. Turn right onto 35th Avenue and continue into the park. There is parking near Golden Pond and access to Joe Michael’s Mile on the nearby footbridge. Alternatively, to visit Joe Michael’s Mile, follow directions to the Alley Pond Environmental Center.
With its open space and ball fields, Crocheron Park seems like a typical neighborhood park. Similarly, with its asphalt path, Joe Michael’s mile seems like a typical jogging/cycling path.
However, both locations are worthwhile for a nature field trip!
Named after a Queens family with ties to the area back to the 1690s and once a political meeting place, the park’s approximately 46 acres hosts great trees like Northern Catalpa, American Elm, and Red Oak. Particularly inviting is Golden Pond, a shady, secluded spot to watch birds, sunbathing turtles, and – if you’re lucky – leaping fish.
From Golden Pond, take the footbridge across the Cross Island Parkway to Joe Michael’s Mile – a 2 ¾ mile bike and pedestrian path circling Little Neck Bay. Regularly used by cyclists and joggers (the path is a memorial to a local runner), this is a marvelous spot to watch for waterfowl, especially in the winter. Regular species include Common Loons, Horned Grebes, Northern Pintails, Ruddy Ducks, and Canvasbacks. Though much of the bay was frozen on the very cold day we visited, plenty of Herring and Ring-billed Gulls, Mallards, and Canada Geese were in fine feather – as well as a patient Great Blue Heron fishing for lunch.
Though the roar of the parkway was deafening at times, a Northern Mockingbird’s song still managed to penetrate the air, while Eastern Gray Squirrels romped in fallen leaves, further showing the value of this land.
- Field Guide to the Natural World of New York City by Leslie Day, 2007, The Johns Hopkins University Press.
- New York City Department of Parks and Recreation website: http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/Q012/
- Wild New York: A Guide to the Wildlife, Wild Places, and Natural Phenomena of New York City by Margaret Mittelbach and Michael Crewdson, 1997, Three Rivers Press.
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