Walking Marine Park

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Bored this summer? Take a hike!

Twice a week, Marine Park nature lovers escape the city at the Salt Marsh Nature Center on Avenue U for a bucolic ramble that the group’s leader said takes them to a tranquil place that feels out of this world — or at least the city limits.

“You feel like you’re somewhere else — you’re not in Brooklyn,” said Cathy Dews, who has been leading hikes for Walk NYC since its creation four years ago.

Monday and Thursday morning groups of five to 12 hikers ranging in age from 13-years-old to more than 80 gather at the center before striking out on one of the park’s nature trails.

Dews says she decides the route and activities based on her read of whether the group is hiking more for fitness or to commune with nature.

Sometimes she adds to walking workout by pausing to do planks or push-ups, and they often end the walk by strolling a few laps around the open greenspace at the park, but it all depends on the crowd.

“Whoever shows, whatever they want — that’s what we’re doing,” said Dews.

But Dews said the walks are always focused on the natural scenery.

“In Marine Park, it’s hard not to — because it’s such a beautiful park,” she said.

The groups delve into the wilderness on the forested nature trail, observing the ubiquitous wildlife — well, mostly squirrels, which have become the de facto mascot of the walking group.

Dews said she got hooked on the nature walks — and getting close to the local wildlife — after she saw a baby squirrel fall from a tree. As she imagined what the mother squirrel must be feeling, she realized every species is connected through the love and concern they share for their offspring.

“You realize that every species feels,” said Dews.

Walking at the Marine Park Salt Marsh Nature Center (3301 Avenue U, near E. 33rd Street in Marine Park). Mondays and Thursdays, 10:15 am. Free.

Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow her
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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