Ever thought of learning how to Canoe, but didn’t want to leave the comfort of the city to do so? Good news, you don’t have to! Hidden in Harlem is Swindler Cove, a little known pocket park in NYC. Swindler Cove is teeming with great sites and family friendly activities. Among them is Peter Jay Sharp’s Boathouse. The Boathouse, run by Row New York, offers canoeing programs during warmer months. Visitors can learn how to row, and even launch their own boats off of the boathouse (no power boats though). If you are not interested in rowing or boating, the view is enough to take your breath away, not to mention the many other recreational activities.
As you enter Swindler’s Cove you’ll notice the different paths you can take. These paths lead to gorgeous gardens, l
ush plants, and beautiful ponds. The main garden showcases tiny peach and orange trees, grape vines, and beets. Other paths lead to Witch-hazel, oaks, tiny waterfalls and sheesham trees. Walking through the paths is a great afternoon activity. If you’re a book lover like me, there are many benches to rest on with a great book. There are a couple of benches overlooking a beautiful little pond. Not many people pass by, so you can enjoy the peace and quiet.
If you love fishing, you’re going to enjoy this
cove. The cove connects to The Lillian Goldman Walk, which allows access to jogging, bike riding, and fish over the side of the walls.
If you find yourself famished after a long day or canoeing or exploring the gardens,
there are many picnic tables that visitors are more than welcome to use for a picnic. If you are planning to have a picnic here, they do ask that you keep the number of visitors to under 10 people.
Fun Facts: While walking around, my sister and I met a worker called Edwards. He was a great sport who was able to give us the inside scoop on this hidden cove. Before Swindler Cove was established, the area was an abandoned wetland. There were no set paths or grand gardens. The region was a desolate lot. There were boathouses present, but they were exclusively used for rowing competitions, in addition to 3 clubs and bars, where there was immense drinking and partying. By the early 1900s most of the boathouses burnt down, and by 1997 the New York Restoration Project decided to clean up the wetlands. Instead of clearing the wetlands, they decided to make them into an actual park. This renovation was completed in 2003. The NYRP split the cove into two sections. One section contains the garden and the pond, the other section preserved the native plants, as a testament to the history of the cove before the renovation. Swindler Cove is now the only large wetland area in Manhattan.
If you’re an avid environmentalist, the park offers a variety of volunteer programs where you can help maintain the forest by planting native trees, shrubs and perennials. You can visit nyrp.org/calendar for more details on how to volunteer here.
As my sister and I got ready to leave the cove, Edwards informed us that the trail wasn’t over and that if we left through the parking lot area, we would be able to walk on the nature trail. This nature trail was as beautiful as the park itself. So, when you leave the park, leave through the parking lot, and look to your right, more nature trails await you! A secret within a secret I suppose.
3703 Harlem River Drive
New York, NY 10034
Phone: (212) 333-2552