6. Inwood Hill Park Shorakapok Preserve

Inwood Hill ParkInwood Hill Park

Inwood Hill Park on the northern tip of Manhattan is one of the island’s only retreats from steel and concrete, as it contains the last natural forest in Manhattan. Peter Minuit supposedly purchased Manhattan from the Lenape under a tulip tree in Inwood Hill Park, and the park used to be home to Fort Cockhill, built by the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. The park is situated next to an active fault, and much of the park is non-landscaped, meaning that most of its scenery is natural. Caves, ridges, and hilly trails dominate the park, and some of these caves were used as shelters by the Lenape Native Americans four centuries ago.

Inwood Hill Park contains one of Manhattan’s four Forever Wild preserves, the Shorakapok Preserve, which features salt marshes and unique glacial geological formations. The park as a whole is home to 250 species of trees and flowers, as well as 150 species of birds and organisms like salamanders and flying squirrels. The preserve is home to the last remaining salt marsh on Manhattan island, attracting birds like blue herons and belted kingfishers. The Clove is a rich valley between two rock ridges in the preserve, covered with wildflowers in the spring. The Parks Department’s Natural Resources Group has been instrumental in preserving Shorakapok, which has been subject to erosion and flash flooding, by helping remove invasive species and prevent soil erosion.