Spring has arrived, and with it a number of nature walks and opportunities to explore the great outdoors for adults and their families. After staying indoors more than usual this past winter, restless nature lovers will probably want to get out as much as possible this spring.
Queens parks and green spaces are offering plenty of unique programming that caters to a variety of experiences, from the laidback family excursion to the more environmentally focused lessons and even a walk that will teach you how to pick your own dinner.
The Chronicle has organized a look at what’s available.
In April, natural areas across the borough will be bustling with activity, and the Parks Department is one of the most active organizers of events in this arena.
But before listing some of the events, it’s important to note that Parks has said that attendance will be limited for many, so check online registration before attending. It also asks anyone who is feeling sick to stay home, for attendees to maintain 6 feet of physical distance between households, wear a face covering and wash their hands. Additionally, the department encourages participants to bring their own hand sanitizer to the programs.
Parks will host Blooming Tree Identification starting at the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Corona Park from 11 a.m. to noon April 17, where participants will learn how to identify trees by their bark, buds and other distinctive characteristics as they roam the park.
Powell’s Cove Park at 130th Street and 11th Avenue in College Point will host a Birding: Spring Migration program from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. April 18. Urban Park Rangers will guide participants to scenic birding spots in the waterfront park looking over a bay with sizable wetlands and undeveloped uplands. Parks encourages all interested birders to bring field guides and binoculars for an enhanced experience.
April 23 will see two tree-planting events in different eastern Queens locations. Cunningham Park in Fresh Meadows and Idlewild Park in Brookville are both hosting plantings from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. that day, where volunteers will help each park’s Stewardship Team plant trees in the forest section. Participants should come dressed in sturdy boots or shoes, long pants and clothing that can get dirty. All volunteers should be sure to bring their own water bottle. Those under 18 must be accompanied by a chaperone.
Sunset Cove at West 22nd Road and Shade Creek Road in Broad Channel will host a birding event focused on shorebirds from 2 to 3 p.m. April 24. The event will give participants a chance to learn about sandpipers, oystercatchers and stilts. Urban Park Rangers will lead the session.
Participants will need to bring their own binoculars.
Aside from the Parks Department’s programming, the Alley Pond Environmental Center is hosting a series of nature walks in celebration of Earth Day. On April 18, it will host a two-hour hike starting at 1:30 p.m., where Jungle Jake, one of the center’s seasoned educators, will lead the group down through the trails to look at some of the park’s creeks.
At 10:30 a.m. April 20, forest therapy guide Linda Lombardo will lead a “forest bathing” walk guiding adult participants to reconnect with the natural world. “On that walk you’ll wander through the trails and just slow down,” said Karen Donahue, APEC’s adult programming coordinator.
The center will also host a sunset urban ecosystem walk at 6:30 p.m. April 20, led by Herbalists Without Borders member Jocelyn Perez, which is open to adults, children — and dogs.
“She’ll be discussing the roles of parks in cities, the relationships between plants and animals and touch a little bit on invasive plants that have been growing, and the effect they have on our environment,” Donahue said. Perez encourages participants to bring a camera or note-taking materials.
APEC has a walk for kids 6 to 8 on Earth Day itself, at 3:45 p.m. April 22, where an educator will take the children on the trail of “One Earth” by Eileen Spinelli, which they will read along the way. Each child will get a copy of the book as they leave the event.
All hikes require preregistration. The two-hour hike and forest bathing walk cost $15. The sunset hike is only $5. The children’s book hike will cost $25. To register or learn more, visit alleypond.org.
Wildman Steve Brill is a vegan Queens native who has gained renown over decades of teaching city dwellers how to find edible plant life in urban parks. Now he has passed on his trade of leading foraging walks to his daughter, Violet Brill, who will be in charge of the only scheduled walk the wildman has organized in Queens this spring.
Steve Brill describes Forest Park as “one of the best places for foragers in mid-spring.” He will teach participants how to distinguish the gourmet plants from the deadly ones. The park’s large, mature forests, Brill said, overflow with wild plants, and Violet will teach participants how to identify, harvest ecologically and eat dozens of them, including root vegetables like burdock; medicinal and cooking herbs like garlic mustard flowers and sassafrass; and if luck will have it, maybe some mid-spring mushrooms.
“Once you see the plants a few times, you’re going to start seeing them everywhere like in front of your doorstep and the side of the street and you won’t be able to miss them,” Violet said.
She recommended that participants bring a plastic bag and container to store some of their findings along the way. Violet will lead the expedition through Forest Park’s woodland trail starting at 11:45 a.m. May 1 at the stone wall at Forest Park Drive and Park Lane in Kew Gardens, near the Overlook Building.
The cost of the four-hour foraging tour entails a suggested donation of $20 per adult, or $10 per child under 12. Those interested may call (914) 835-2153 at least 24 hours ahead to reserve a place. To learn more, visit wildmanstevebrill.com.
The Queens Botanical Garden will also host a walking tour on the same day, May 1. Entitled “Intro to Citizen Science,” the tour will see the garden partnering with Genspace to explore urban biodiversity around the Flushing green space. The event will entail a City Nature Challenge, a worldwide event that is aimed at getting people to observe and identify the biodiversity where they live.
It costs $10 for nonmembers, $8 for members and is free with an Urban Advantage Student +3 Voucher. Registration is required and includes general garden admission.
To learn more about the event, visit queensbotanical.org.