A few months ago, I made several unsuccessful attempts to check out the Hallett Nature Sanctuary, a protected area in the southeast corner of Central Park. Closed to the public since the 1930s, it had been opened with strictly limited hours over the past few years but I had been unable to visit during those times. But now, there are open hours every week and with my current office located close by, I was finally able to drop in and take a look around.
I met up with my friend M one weekday afternoon (she had taken the day off) for a late post-lunch stroll. With no real plans in mind, I suggested we try to visit the Sanctuary. I had expected long lines (as it had been when I walked by last year and even on the first official day it opened this year) but was pleasantly surprised to see people come and go freely.
Members of the park staff were stationed at the entrance and along the different paths inside to answer questions. We soon entered through the rustic wooden gate and proceeded down a path. There are lovely lookouts and vantage points around the promontory, with views of skyscrapers above and the lake below. Though it’s very close to the traffic along Central Park South, most of the noise was filtered out and we heard mainly birdsong and the rustling of leaves.
My favorite area is where a waterfall cascades down into the lake. I’ve seen it often from outside along a path that circles the lake and have always wondered what the source looked like. It’s fun to stand up on the rocks and watch and listen to the water as it trickles downward. By chance, I caught a sparrow bathing briefly in the shallow grooves of the large smooth stones before taking flight. It was so lovely!
One can probably walk through all of the Sanctuary in about 10-15 minutes without stopping. I definitely need to revisit and take my time to fully appreciate the views and the peacefulness of the site (and in much more appropriate footwear). Maybe next time I’ll bring a book and just sit one of the benches up there and just be surrounded by nature.