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Best Urban Hike


For kids who grew up on Staten Island, the wilderness at the island’s core is the home of Cropsey, their very own Blair Witch. The urban legend concerns a man who was killed by a Boy Scout prank gone awry and comes back years later to seek revenge on innocent children. In the 1980s, when a little girl went missing near Staten Island’s Greenbelt, the accused was a homeless man living in the Greenbelt among the ruins of the Willowbrook State School, the former institution for mentally handicapped children that was closed after Geraldo Rivera publicized horrific abuse and miserable living conditions. It is in this storied section of the island that you’ll find some of the best hiking in New York City—ghosts, kidnappers, and deplorable mistreatment of the handicapped notwithstanding. It takes a ferry from Manhattan, a long bus ride deep into the heart of S.I.Asbury Park, a walk through a residential block, and a suspicious climb over some metal barriers before your journey is rewarded by 2,800 acres of wetlands, forest, and even a man-made mountain called Moses (after the power broker, not the Biblical prophet). Climb 260 feet to the top (hey, we never said it was a big mountain) for a panoramic view as far as the Jersey Shore, and for a moment, try to forget that the Greenbelt is better known for a homicidal maniac than for its 35 miles of trails.

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