There’s nothing like finding a spot where, if you squint and hold your head at a really specific angle and ignore the wailing sirens, you’d swear you were deep in the wilderness—or at least in Jersey. Last month the Parks Department gave us back one of those rare sites when they reopened the Highland Park Ridgewood Reservoir after two year of reconstruction. The renovations included new stairs, fencing, repaved paths, and the addition of handicap accessible entrances.
Perched on a ridge on the border of Brooklyn and Queens, the reservoir was one of Brooklyn’s main water sources from the 1850s until it was decommissioned in 1990 and became a nature preserve. There’s a fence to keep you from bolting off the paved trail and skinny-dipping, but the reservoir has a pathway where you can get a closer look at actual non-pigeon birds. According to a spokesperson for the Parks Department, the pathway passes through an ecologically sensitive area and is only open during free tours. But there’s one coming up soon: if you want to make new friends and learn what those not-pigeons actually are, there’s a winter bird tour Saturday November 16 at 9am. And you can always ride or stroll along the bike path running around the reservoir.
The Highland Park Ridgewood Reservoir is great in the winter when the leaves are gone and stupid nature is no longer blocking your view of Jamaica Bay. On a clear day you can also snag a sick shot of the skyline peaking behind the trees and earn an obscene number of Instalikes. As people who follow “take nothing but pictures” to unhealthy extremes, we wish you Instaluck.
The reservoir is can be reached by every transportation option available to you. It’s along the Brooklyn-Queens Greenway, the bike circuit that runs from Coney Island to Fort Totten in Bayside, Queens. It’s a fifteen-minute walk from the Norwood Ave stop on the J train. Follow Hale Ave to Force Tube Ave, which becomes Highland Blvd after crossing Jamaica Ave. As Highland Blvd curves left you’ll see a path leading up the hill on the right side of the road. The B13 bus will leave you on Cypress Hills St and Cypress Ave, two blocks from the reservoir’s eastern entrance. Walk south over the overpass crossing the Jackie Robinson Parkway and turn right on an unmarked street that ends at the park entrance. The B13 connects to the L (Myrtle Ave), M (Myrtle Ave, Forest Ave, Fresh Pond Rd), J (Crescent St), and the A, C (Euclid Ave).