This serene lake scene seems far away from the frenzy of the city, but really it's very close. Just take the uptown 1 train to the last stop, Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. The park is the 3rd largest in the city and offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation, including a swimming pool, cricket fields, a public golf course, and an extensive network of trails. Aside from the swan in the lake, another one is slightly out of view, tending to a nest behind the tree.
In places, Van Cortlandt Park feels more rustic than its counterparts in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Nestled under the remains of old woodlands, many of the hiking trails veer away from the city. The 1.1 mile section of the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail is part of a regional trail that starts in Westchester County to the north. The east-west John Muir Trail, though far from Yosemite, covers 1.7 miles of woodlands.
Not all is wild. Near the entrance on Broadway, the Van Cortlandt House Museum dates from 1748-49 and is the oldest in the borough. George Washington slept here. The park is home to the nation's oldest city golf course and offers reasonable rates for New York City residents. The clubhouse offers a small selection of snacks.
Getting there: By subway, take the 1 train to the last stop at 242nd St. Follow the signs, depending if you are slow like a turtle or fast like a hare.
NYC Parks web page for Van Cortlandt Park
Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from April 2016.