Stargazing sessions are supported by the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York.
Bear Rock MeadowPhoto of Bear Rock by Hank Schenker
There are two ways to get to the top, from the Payson Street entrance, and from the Seaman/Isham Entrance. The north route is steeper, but less creepy and shorter, with more people on it. The Payson Street entrance has an easier grade to walk on, but it is longer, darker and a lot creepier.
Please click on and print out the Trail Maps shown to the right.
This location is the best place to see stars in Manhattan. This "Forever Wild" park has no streetlamps and we are 200 feet above the city lights below. Dark and wonderful, it is a great way to experience the night sky right near home. All stargazing outings are a no-alcohol, no-noise events.
I deliberately announce them only a few hours in advance of going up to the hilltop. To know about these special, sporadic events, you need to subscribe to my Facebook Page or Twitter feed. I will also always post something on this website across the top. So, if it looks clear out, and it's a weekend night, check out the pages and see if we are going up. Times will typically be from 8:00 PM until late. But the Park closes at 1:00 AM, so you'll need to be out of there by then.
What to Wear
In the Summer bugs are out in force, so wear a jacket, long pants and shoes. If you don't wear long pants and shoes, you will really wish you had. Also wear good walking shoes, because it is a 300 yard walk to the top. In the Fall and Spring, make sure to bring a hat and gloves, because it always feels colder than you think it is. In the Winter, seriously bundle up; it can get cold up there, much colder than you think.
What to Bring
Just bring yourself and a friend. We have all the rest. Bring binoculars if you have them. If you have telescope gear, please contact Jason about the best way to transport it to the top. You can print out a star map. And please bring a red cover for your flashlight. It is also nice to bring a lawn chair. These are a no-alcohol, no-noise events.
It's OK to bring kids, but parents must ask me how to use the telescope. Parents will then look through the telescope first, and they will have to teach their children how to look. Any child with food in their hands will not be allowed to look.
Please leave your dog at home. Telescope equipment is expensive.
Since 2008, I have done over 200 stargazing events at this location with over 5000 people having safely joined me with no incidents. I have taken very expensive equipment up to the hilltop alone and stayed until well after 3AM with no problems. Its isolation is what makes it safe. All of the crime and problems in Inwood happen in the well-lit areas: i.e. on the streets under the lamps and near buildings. This is the same for anywhere in New York City. Personal experience, anecdotal evidence and police statistics support this statement. To help keep it safe, these events are deliberately held sporadically with minimal advertising to keep attendance low. Low foot traffic and irregular patterns assure that bad guys don't ever take notice. They never have, and I don't want them to start. That being said, always come up with a buddy. It's New York City, after all. I don't want anyone to be That First One. Also, when coming up, it is always safest to come up with either no flashlight or with a red-gel flashlight. This way your eyes can dark-adapt, which is always the safest thing to be in a park. Extraneous lights blind you and make you unable to see. So, it is safest to reduce the lighting that you bring into the park.
Arrive at the Park by Subway
To arrive by subway, take the "A" train to the 200th Street/Dyckman Street stop. Walk towards the Park on Dyckman Street (go West) and take a right on Seaman Street. Go up the Hill to Beak Street, and take a left. The entrance is right there. You can also use the Google streep map and street images below to know what it looks like.
Entering the Park
The park entrance is at Payson and Beak Streets. I mark the path with white chalk every 20-30 feet. If you don't see signs or chalk marks at the entrance or lots of chalk marks along the way, then there is no event that night, or we have packed up and left. We typically leave by midnight. Print out the trail map above.