Running Brooklyn: Marine Park

Marine Park run routeLast week, I took you on a running tour of Gerritsen Beach – but I left you hanging. The second half of that jaunt was through Marine Park, Brooklyn’s largest park, just to the east.

530 of Marine Park’s 798 acres are “Forever Wild” space, meant to protect the natural habitats of countless species. The main area of interest here is the salt marsh formed by the Gerritsen Creek.

And those 798 remaining acres are paltry when you learn over 1,000 acres were transferred to the National Park Service’s Gateway National Recreation Area in 1972.

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You might recall that to access Marine Park from the south, I had to go through a beach along Plumb Beach Channel. As it turns out, the sand never ends – only a few paths are paved, and most of those have been left to the weeds.

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One exception is the headquarters of the Radio Control Society of Marine Park, which has a 500′ runway specifically for radio-controlled aircraft. Looks like they had had their special annual “WARBIRDS” event the previous weekend. Bummer.

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When you look at the reeds springing up from the ground, it’s easy to forget you’re still within city limits. Hidden within are some surprises, such as this Smart Car someone torched back in 2011. As it turns out, Marine Park is the final resting place of several stolen vehicles – in many cases, at one point, the “hot” was quite literal.

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Near the top of the one-mile trail is the salt marsh, fed by the freshwater Gerritsen Creek. I had hoped to see some cool wildlife, but at first was limited to an off-leash dog and a guy trying to spot some birds.

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As I walked toward the water, I heard some rustling on the ground. A large group of fiddler crabs – several hundred – had felt my presence and were scurrying off to the protection of the reeds. As they piled on top of each other, trying to escape, they made an eerie clacking sound, which collected into a sound effect a horror-film director would love.

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With these pilings, I was half expecting to see a pelican with a fish hanging out of its mouth. I did see this egret, though.

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Finally, into the playground area, particularly the huge area devoted to baseball. There’s a round path circling the fields, and many people were out on this Monday morning for a run. It was my first opportunity to grab some water and I did so.

I also caught this uprooted tree stump – perhaps a holdover from Superstorm Sandy. Nothing too interesting about that, though, so I headed out of the park, back to Knapp Avenue and the houseboat.

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