Udalls Cove Park & Preserve extends more than a mile from its southern boundary at Northern Boulevard to its northern extent on the shoreline of the open water of Udalls Cove.
The southern end of the Park can be seen and accessed from Northern Boulevard east of the TD Bank and west of the 7-11 store, opposite St. Anastasia's Church. Gabler's Creek, one of two freshwater streams that feeds Udalls Cove, passes underneath Northern Boulevard just west of the 7-11 store. It is hidden in a culvert under the roadway, but emerges a few hundred feet north in what is known as the Ravine section of the park. The South Ravine trail starts here and continues to the intersection of 244th Street and Church St., next to the Douglaston Firehouse.
The North Ravine trail connects Douglaston and Little Neck. On the Douglaston side, the trail begins at the north end of Orient Ave. (A series of steps lead down the steep slope from the end of Depew Ave. to the trailhead.) Until the 1960's there were several cottages in this portion of the Ravine in which lived descendants of black settlers, many of whom made their living as oystermen. Their small community of homes was later bisected by the LIRR. The community included a tiny AME Church, now a private home standing near the north end of Orient Ave. On the Little Neck side, the trail begins at the intersection of 40th Ave. and 247th St. Here a footbridge crosses Gabler's Creek just before where it enters a cobblestone lined culvert underneath the Long Island Railroad; the culvert was built in the 1930s, during the Great Depression, by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Just north of the LIRR are the Aurora Pond trails, with two entrances on Sandhill Road, and one at the foot of Little Neck Road. Gabler's Creek flows through the pond, then continues north until it empties into Udalls Cove at Virginia Point, named for Gareiss' collaborator Virginia Dent.
At Virginia Point, a second freshwater creek enters Udalls Cove from the Great Neck side. This stream has its origins in Lake Success; it can be seen from Northern Boulevard opposite the Leonard's of Great Neck catering hall. Virgina Point is the section of Udalls Cove Park that affords the most opportunity for exploration. There are several entrances to the Virginia Point trails, located at the northern end of Little Neck Parkway, and a bit further south at the intersection of Little Neck Parkway and 34th Ave. Along the trails here you will have fine views of Udalls Cove and the large salt marsh. You'll see wooden pilings that are the remnants of the commercial marinas that operated here until the 1960s. At the southwestern corner of this section of the park the trail comes close to an interesting "green infrastructure" project completed by New York City in 2014. There is a storm sewer outfall here, through which rainwater enters Gabler's Creek. The City built a "stilling basin" in front of the outfall, so that silt can settle out before reaching the Creek. Between the stilling basin and the creek is a large area of Spartina salt marsh grass planted as part of the project. At high tide most of this area is underwater, creating a lovely tide pool frequented by many birds.
But wait -- there's more! Feeling ambitious? Have reasonably good balance? Then here's your opportunity for a bit of adventure. Enter the Virginia Point Restoration Area directly north of the north end of Little Neck Parkway. Look to your right and you'll see a narrow opening adjacent to a residential hedge, beyond which is an open, grassy area. Walk east a couple dozen yards across this grassy area -- the backyard fences of several houses will be on your right -- until you reach a rail fence constructed of old phone poles. Turn left and walk about 20 yards until you reach the water. Now turn right and continue along the shoreline another 10-15 yards until you come to a large iron pipe, about 30" in diameter. This is the outfall pipe from the nearby Belgrave Sewage Treatment Plant (it serves parts of Great Neck and is an extremely well run facility ... you won't smell a thing). You can walk on the top of the pipe for about a quarter mile. The pipeline crosses the Udalls Cove marsh, traversing several streams and inlets along the way. Provided you're wearing appropriate shoes (not street shoes!) you'll have no difficulty walking atop the pipe. Starting in the spring, the area is filled with an abundance of wildlife, featuring egrets, herons, bitterns, kingfishers, ducks, geese, swans and myriad other birds. Just east of the end of the pipeline, a few yards from the shore of the Cove, you'll see the 15-foot high osprey nesting platform that UCPC installed in 2004. A pair of ospreys will typically be in residence from late March until late September, with chicks hatching in early June.
The Osprey Landing Trail has two entry points -- one is on the east side of Douglas Road at its intersection with Warwick Road; the other is on the south side of Douglas Manor's Memorial Field. The trail has two loops. At the northeast and southeast corners of the trail network are excellent viewing locations from which you can see Udalls Cove, the salt marsh, and the osprey nesting platform which gives this 2-acre section of the park its name.
At the foot of Laurel Drive is the entrance to the Great Neck Estates trail, a lovely path that leads to the Udalls Cove shoreline. From this trail you can get a much closer look at the osprey nesting platform.
UCPC has also built and maintains trails in the northeastern corner of Alley Pond Park, shown on the left side of the map above. The short Doug-Bay trail on the west side of the Douglaston peninsula provides fine viewing of the Alley Creek salt marsh and Little Neck Bay. UCPC's first osprey nesting platform, installed in 1997, can be viewed here. The trail starts on the west side of the intersection of 233rd St. and 39th Ave.
The Old Oak Pond trail has its main entrance on the west side of Douglaston Parkway, between Pine and Church Streets. The entrance is at the Joe Hellmann Overlook, named for a longtime Douglaston resident who led the campaign to save this area from development. The trail winds down a steep slope, and then snakes around the south and west sides of the pond A spur trail leads west to the parking lot of the Douglaston Golf Driving Range.
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