Right next to Orchard Beach and the Twin Islands, the 3-mile loop around Hunter Island offers an exploratory route through marshland, beaches full of herons and mussels, gorgeous forests, the area’s tiny, rock islands, and unprecedented views of the Long Island Sound.
Start from the parking lot at Orchard Beach. While hikers can immediately bear onto one of Hunter Island’s many pathways, they shouldn’t miss a chance to visit one of New York’s most beautiful beaches. Follow the boardwalk east then take the first, unmarked, gravel trail next to a marsh-rimmed lagoon. A sign designates that this area is forever wild. Watch for herons and other shorebirds.
The route follows the eastern shore of Hunter Island, with spur trail options to explore the beaches more closely. Perhaps the most worthy bushwhacking is a side-trip to the barrier between Hunter and the Twin Islands. An abandoned ship sits nearly tipped over next to the shell-littered sands. Cormorants, swans, and geese play along the rocks in this lagoon. When finished, find the way back to the main trail and continue north.
In the northeast corner of the island, a wooden plank path traverses a marsh full of tall grass and reeds to a cluster of rocky islands. Sit under the shaded of flowering trees, enjoying panoramic vistas of the Long Island Sound. Retrace the way back to the pathway as it goes east along the northern shore of Pelham Bay Park. Once through the woods, several more islands are visible. The New York Athletic Club, located in a gorgeous white mansion, is to the left; Glen Park is to the right. Loop back to the parking lot along the lagoon.
Editor’s Note: This route can be combined with Orchard Beach to Twin Islands for a total of 8.4 miles.
-Mapped by MacKenzie Ryan
Mass transit from Manhattan: Ride the 6 to Parkchester, then transfer to the 6 extension to Pelham Bay. Take the Bx29 to the bus terminal at Orchard Beach.
From Manhattan: Take 9A North to exit 14 for I-95. Keep right at the fork to merge onto I-95 North. Stay left at the fork, following signs for I-95/Cross Bronx Expressway, and merge onto I-95 North. At 8.1 miles, take exit 8B for Pelham Parkway. Continue straight onto Shore Road. Turn right at City Island Road. The start of the hike is across the street. To continue to parking, follow City Island Road around the traffic circle. Merge onto Park Drive. The parking lot is on the right.