GREAT KILLS PARK

Staten Island, NY


Directions:

Take the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to Staten Island. Get off at the Hylan Bouvelard south exit. Travel for about five miles to find the Gateway entrance sign on the left.


The Staten Island Unit of Gateway extends along the south shore of the island and includes Fort Wadsworth, Miller Field, Great Kills Park, and Hoffman and Swinburne Islands. Within the unit, visitors find opportunities to explore historic military fortifications, participate in organized athletics and seek recreation and educational activities through ranger-led programs or on their own.

Natural habitats include shoreline and dunes, uplands of grasses, shrubs and small trees, fresh water wetlands, and a locally unique swamp white oak forest.


GREAT KILLS PARK

Located on the east and south (Crookes Point) of Great Kills Harbor and on the shoreline of Lower New York Bay. To the east is Miller Field Park. At Miller Field (headquarters of the Gateway National Recreation Area), a former airfield, a little-used trail meanders through a swamp oak forest at the field's northwest corner. Traveling along the Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk paralleling the Father Capodanno Blvd. takes the hiker to Fort Wadsworth at the southeast corner of Staten Island (at the western end of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge).

Prior to land-filling, Crookes Point used to be called Plum Island, after the beach plums which grew there.

Great Kills Park has a seasonal, guarded swimming beach, a marina, athletic fields, a public boat ramp, nature trails, a model airplane field, a fishing area, and miles of trails for jogging and walking.


PERMIT INFORMATION

Permits are required for athletic field use, access to Crooke's Point for fishing and nature study, access to fishing areas during off-hours, parking in the boat launch lot, picnics, and community gardening. Permits are issued at the Miller Field administration building. There is a $25 administration fee for all permits.


Geology:

The base rock here is serpentine, but the material visible on the surface is more likely to be glacial till. The Harbor Hill Moraine, along with occasional outcrops of base serpentine, is what defines the crest of Staten Island's uplands. These extend roughly along a northeast-southwest line near the center of the island. Todt Hill (at 410 feet), just south of the Castleton Corners neighborhood, is the highest point on the ridge.

Southeast of this line of hills, Staten Island's terrain is composed of the finer glacial debris known as "outwash." This walk is along the glacial outwash plain and barrier beaches that face lower New York Bay.


Trails:

This park is less developed than other Staten Island Gateway lands. It encompasses a lot of Phragmites australis (giant reed grass), a shifting sandspit, and the circular enclosure of Great Kills Harbor. Follow the blue dot trail, which begins near the Hyland Boulevard entrance to the park at a sign that says "Gateway Equestrian Trail." Plunge into phragmites-sided valleys. The entire length of the trail is 2.5 miles. Halfway you come upon a parking area and administration building.

The recommended approach to the point is along the beach near the bulkhead; the dunes between the harbor and the bay should not be traversed unless the walker has received a permit from Gateway headquarters. Inquire at Miller Field.


GREAT KILLS
STATEN ISLAND
August 26, 1928

The main objectives of the trip were the swamp rose mallows, Hibiscus moscheutos and H. oculiroseus Britton, and on this account the way led east from the railroad station to the eastern shore of the island. There these two beautiful species of Hibiscus were found in abundance and perfect blossom in the salt marshes -- also a form which is possibly a hybrid of the two, pink with a crimson center. . . .Other interesting plants seen were Phragmites communis, Cassia nictitans, Lactuca scariola, and the variety integrata; and the tall Lactuca spicata with blue flowers, growing as high as eight feet. Apocynum Indian hemp
Polygonum sagittatum
Polygonum hydropiper
Polygonum pensylvanicum
p. 113


May 31 1958 p. 384
shorebirds
Mathilde P. Weingartner


Great Kills park
August 26, 1962

Many common weeds and grasses were observed by the group on the way from the parking of cars to the beach. There were
Solidago sempervirens (seaside goldenrod)
Ambrosia trifida (giant ragweed)
Ambrosia artemisiifolia var. elatior (common ragweed)
Eupatorium purpureum (Joe-Pye-weed)
Eupatorium leucolepis (white thoroughwort))
Cycloloma atriplicifolia (winged pigweed)
Artemisia caudata (wild wormwood)
Grasses seen were:
Eragrostis pectinacea (purple love grass)
Phragmites communis (tall reed grass)
Ammophila arenaria (beech grass)
Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)
Andropogon scoparium (bushy beardgrass)
Hordeum jubatum (squirrel tail grass)

Along the upper beach we found some of the halophytes, such as Cakile edentula, Iva frutescens, Heterotheca subaxillaris, and Cenchrus tribuloides. Some of the time was devoted to the study of tidal pools, since the tide was at a low ebb. Small fish and the mud snail (Nassa obsoleta) made their homes there. Among the birds were ...

Leader Guy Nearing, reported by Joseph Monachino.


Great Kills Park, Staten Island
Date: September 7, 1964
Leader: Mathilde P. Weingartner

A beautiful day, when there was a slight breeze off the bay. Under these circumstances much of the flotsam and jetsam washed up on the beach was left exposed. There was a large number of both kinds of moonsnails (Polinices heros and P. duplicata). Many pieces of wood were hollowed out by the shipworm, Teredo or the wood piddock, Barnea truncata. All three boat shells, Crepidula, were seen growing on the dead moonsnails. Altogether there were at least 25 species of shells found on the trip.

In the sand and well above the high tide level we found Cakile edentula, Salsola kali, winged pigweed (Cycloloma) and pinweed (Lechea). A new stand of Hudsonia tomentosa, the beach heather, was discovered, and Krigia biflora grew along one of the roads.

Birds seen were: sanderling, knot, ruddy turnstone, black-bellied plover, common tern, great black-backed gull, herring gull and laughing gull.

Bromus sp. (brome grass)
Cakile edentula (sea rocket)
Cycloloma atriplicifolium (winged pigweed)
Hieracium sp. (hawkweed)
Hudsonia tomentosa (beach heather)
Krigia biflora (two-flowered cynthia)
Lechia sp. (pinweed)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
Prunus maritima (beach plum)
Salsola kali (saltwort)


Great Kills Park, Staten Island
Date: June 1, 1967
Leader: Mathilde P. Weingartner

This field trip was not very profitable as far as shore birds were concerned. There were very few species: sanderlings, black- bellied plovers, semi-palmated plover, rudy turnstone, semi- palmated sandpipers, least and common turns. We did finally get a look at two knots feeding on the peat spits. There were few flowers in bloom: hawkweed, brome grass, but the plant of beauty that surpassed all expectations was a large and several smaller stands of Hudsonia tomentosa, at the height of its bloom. It was a pleasant day to be out of doors, good weather in a string of rainy days. Attendance was 12. p33


Great Kills Park, Staten Island
Date: June 1, 1968
Leader: Mathilde P. Weingartner
This field trip was not very profitable as far as shore birds were concerned. There were very few species: sanderlings, black- bellied plovers, semi-palmated plover, rudy turnstone, semi- palmated sandpipers, least and common turns. We did finally get a look at two knots feeding on the peat spits. There were few flowers in bloom: hawkweed, brome grass, but the plant of beauty that surpassed all expectations was a large and several smaller stands of Hudsonia tomentosa, at the height of its bloom. It was a pleasant day to be out of doors, good weather in a string of rainy days. Attendance was 12.


9/28/03. From: Protectors SI NY.Subj: A SUCCESSFUL CLAY PIT WALK WITH ORCHIDS AND DEER. Protectors of Pine Oak Woods next family outdoor activity is the Annual Six Mile Monarch Butterfly Walk at Great Kills Park on Saturday, October 4, from 9:45 AM to 3:30 PM. We expect many more Butterflies than the dozen or two we have seen during walks the past two weeks and hope that we may perhaps see the hundreds or thousands that we had seen in past years. Participants meet at the Hylan Blvd. entrance to Gateway National Recreation Area opposite Buffalo St.


PLANT LIST:

Mathilda P. Weingartner


Bromus sp. (brome grass)
Cakile edentula (sea rocket)
Cycloloma atriplicifolium (winged pigweed)
Hieracium sp. (hawkweed)
Hudsonia tomentosa (beach heather)
Krigia biflora (two-flowered Cynthia)
Lechea sp. (pinweed)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
Prunus maritima (beach plum)
Salsola kali (saltwort)