Sunday, June 2, 2013

Summer by the Lake, in Forest Hills!

After years of waiting, Forest Hills now has access to a beautiful lake! The City has finally opened the gate to the entrance to the Willow Lake Trail. The entrance is located on the Grand Central Parkway service road at the corner of 72nd Road. Be advised, however, while the scenic beauty of the lake is now easily accessible the second you cross over the Grand Central Parkway footbridge, the trail around the lake is quite muddy in locations within minutes of beginning the walk, forcing me, in my sneakers, to halt my journey pretty quickly and decide to continue on another day with some waterproof Timberlands. The Forest Hills entrance is open weekends.

The entrance is at the corner of 72nd Road and GCP Service Road.
A close-up of the entrance, with the footbridge over Grand Central Parkway behind...
Within a minute, you go from this...
.... to this...
... and finally, this.. I can't tell you how cool it is to make that quick transition.
The trail then begins around the lake...
Starting out as a stone path...
If it wasn't for the sound of the nearby parkway cars, I'd never know I was in NYC...
... the trail quickly gets very muddy in spots, so be warned, bring hiking shoes. And enjoy!

23 comments:

  1. And maybe wear long pants, too, to avoid ticks.

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  2. I found it a bit creepy there when I walked through there years back and the rats made me turn around quickly. I was hoping they might ha,ve cleared the path a bit.

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    1. Ha! Rats... I'd be turning around quickly too if there are rats there. Are you sure they were rats? I didn't see any. I thought rats live off garbage, and there's none there. It's like any other nature trail.

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    2. Here's a link with more info that I found: http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/fmcp/highlights/12907

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    3. Could rats migrate from the nearby subway depot to this lake? Would they want to? Any experts out there have an opinion? Might be an interesting thing to run by the Parks Dept.

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    4. Depending when Bruce went, the lake might've been neglected and used as a ground for people to throw their trash in, therefore, encouraging rats to migrate to this location. It might've been closed for this very reason. If it was clean when you visited, we can thank the parks department and hope that if garbage stays away, so will the rats. Thanks for posting, I'm really looking forward to visiting!

      - D

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    5. Speaking of clean: Drake, did it look like they simply unlocked the gate, or does it look like they made an effort to clean and fix the area up? From looking at your pics, it seems that they left it very natural. Any impression that they're looking to cultivate it more?

      - D

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    6. This article has some answers: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/hike-preserve-flushing-meadows-corona-park-article-1.1360303

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    7. Great news! I didn't realize how big this area is. Take a look at the map:

      http://www.nycgovparks.org/sub_about/parks_divisions/nrg/forever_wild/pdf/Q099_2008%20FW%20-%20Flushing%20Meadows_Corona%20Park_Willow%20Lake%20Preserve.pdf

      Speaking of parks, I wish there was a better way to get into Fresh Meadows by bike without having to potentially kill yourself on Jewel avenue. They created a bike path (that no driver adheres to), but there is no connection to the park from our side of Forest Hills (Grand Central Parkway) without having to go all the way to Van Wyck and back.

      - D

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  3. Crappy man-made lake at that.

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    1. Very informative opinion. Consider writing for your local paper. :p

      - D

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  4. i remember the yearly giant fires at willow lake back in the day.

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  5. Does anyone know if I can bring my leashed dog with me when I walk this trail?

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    1. Can't imagine that would be a problem. Seems to me if it's a nature trail, it's meant as a way to both look at nature, and for nature (humans and canines) to walk along it. Give it a shot, you can always turn back. If anything the pooch might keep away any varmints.

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  6. just stopped by this saturday morning (~11 am)to see if I could walk the trail with my pooch, gates were locked with a laminate sign saying park is open saturday and sunday 7am to 7pm. looks like the parks patrol skipped a stop.

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    1. Maybe it's very flooded from the storm; try tomorrow or next weekend?

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  7. The grand central parkway gate is closed because the city parks department has not repaired the portion of the trail that runs along the west side of the lake. (it was not open on at all this weekend).

    I went in from the Van Wyck side and the mud described in the photos above is deeper now after all the rain we've had, and it has that nice chemical shine to it as well.

    I think maybe the EPA needs to take a look at willow lake and see if it isn't a superfund site like newtown creek and goanus canal.

    If you want to catch up on the abandoned state of this trail over the last 15 years, check out these links...

    http://ltvsquad.com/2013/06/04/the-scandal-at-willow-lake-nyc-parks-department-partially-reopens-the-pat-dolan-trail/

    http://ltvsquad.com/2013/05/15/the-abandoned-willow-lake-trail-in-flushing-meadow-corona-park/

    If I lived in Forest Hills, I would be pretty outraged about the complete neglect of such a huge parcel of parkland for so many years.

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  8. Outraged, yes. Surprised, no.

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  9. Sadly it was closed this weekend. Both Saturday and Sunday. Got stuck going to the street fair instead. Hope it's opened next weekend.

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  10. Here's a link with a better idea of what's going on there than you can find here.

    http://ltvsquad.com/2013/06/04/the-scandal-at-willow-lake-nyc-parks-department-partially-reopens-the-pat-dolan-trail/

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  11. Not sure if I'd step foot in this park. It looks like bad news and a health hazard. This is an embarrassment.

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  12. I was finally able to make it in! It is still closed on the 72nd/GCP side but it was open on the other side (i'm a non driver - not sure of the street names) Good thing my friends and I went early. After 1/2 way through (it got too muddy to finish when getting to the 72nd/GCP entrance) we went back to wear we started. The park was empty and so between it being a HOT day and the park being kid free, we decided to take a break and play in the sprinkler. As we were leaving the park we noticed a lock on the park gate - the park gate we just walked through! They closed it! At 1pm! Now correct me if i'm wrong but the sign does say open until 7pm. Are we following a different time zone for the park times?

    Putting that aside, it was a gorgeous path to walk and it's nice to finally have something like this in the area. Now if only we can get bike rentals on our side of flushing meadow as well as the other side, we'd be set!

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