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Mt. Loretto Unique Area

hiking icon fishing icon paddling icon mountain biking icon watchable wildlife icon accessible facitilies icon parking icon restrooms icon

Watch a clip about Mount Loretto and check out other clips on DEC's YouTube Channel.

Mt. Loretto Unique Area provides nature lovers with more than 200 acres of forest, grasslands, wetlands, and coastal shoreline on the southern shore of Staten Island. These habitats make it a beautiful area to hike and one of the best places to spot migrating birds in the area.

Featured Activities

Hiking

hiking iconGeneral information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations

grasslands
Grasslands at
Mount Loretto Unique Area

Mt. Loretto Unique Area features three hiking trails: Wetlands Trail, Grassland Trail, and Beach Loop. The Wetlands Trail includes a self-guided interpretive trail brochure (PDF, 608 KB), with eight stops along the trail. Some of the stops talk about the bird life at Mt. Loretto or the wildlife found at a pond, while others discuss the importance of wetlands, both tidal and freshwater.

Purchase a Trail Supporter Patch to provide funding for maintenance of trail and other facilities.

Fishing

fishing iconGeneral information on fishing including fishing tips with links to seasons, rules & regulations

Mt. Loretto Unique Area features a freshwater pond with an accessible fishing pier. The area also offers a mile of shoreline for saltwater fishing on Prince's Bay.

Watchable Wildlife

accessible facilitiesGeneral information on watchable wildlife including tips for viewing wildlife and links to other watchable wildlife locations

Mt. Loretto Unique Area is a New York State Watchable Wildlife site, where wildlife can be spotted year-round. With five ecosystems-marine/coastal, grassland, forest, and tidal and freshwater wetlands-Mt. Loretto offers a wide array of habitats for bird species and lots of opportunities for birders.

The wildlife to watch includes cormorants, bobolinks, purple martens, butterflies, grasshoppers, bald eagles, osprey, deer, turtles, and snakes.

Biking

mountain biking icon

Bicycles are allowed only on asphalt surfaces, this includes the asphalt surface portions of both the Wetlands trail and the Grassland trail.

Paddling

paddling icon

Kayaks, canoes, and other non-motorized watercraft are allowed on the seashore but cannot remain overnight. Mt. Loretto Unique Area does not have an official kayak/canoe launch. However, paddler are permitted to carry their crafts to the beach on walking trails. See map.

Lemon Creek Marina (Leaves DEC website) offers a shorter portage for paddlers.

Environmental Education

With five ecosystems - marine/coastal, grassland, forest, and tidal and freshwater wetlands - Mt. Loretto offers tremendous educational value.
Organizations who wish to use the Mt. Loretto property for an event (walk, cleanup, or program) must contact the environmental educator prior to publicizing the event. Permits are required for any event on the property involving more than 8 people. Permit applications. The Environmental Educator can be reached by phone 718-482-6404 or email.

Grassland
Grasslands make up most of the Unique Area. Some grassland bird species are in decline because nesting habitat is disappearing; three of these species include the bobolink, common meadowlark, and savannah sparrow. All of these species like moist fields with small to moderate height vegetation, characteristic of the fields at Mt. Loretto. The eastern meadowlark has not been observed on Mt. Loretto in many years, but bobolinks have been spotted with increasing frequency.

freshwater wetlands
Freshwater Wetlands at Mt. Loretto

Coastal
Coastal/marine habitat is the second largest habitat zone at Mt. Loretto. A narrow sand and cobble beach fronts the property for roughly a mile of coastline, and the property includes 49 acres of underwater lands.
A tidal inlet on the eastern end of the property links Prince's Bay to the tidal wetlands. This inlet brings saltwater into the tidal wetlands. The course of the inlet changes with the wind and waves.

Freshwater wetland
The freshwater wetlands on Mt. Loretto make up 16.55 acres of the property and are part of a larger wetland system, the Tottenville Freshwater Wetland. Wetlands provide flood water and stormwater control, wildlife habitat, watershed protection, erosion and sediment control, and aesthetics. Mt. Loretto's wetlands are low marshes in an open field and contain species such as sedges, rushes, bulrushes, red maple, willows, arrowwood, and highbush blueberry

Accessible Features

accessible facilitiesGeneral information on accessible recreation includes links to other locations with accessible recreation opportunities and information on permits for motorized access

Mt. Loretto Unique Area accessible features are under construction. When complete Mt. Loretto Unique Area will feature an accessible trail from the accessible parking lot to Mount Loretto Pond, with an accessible fishing platform.

Additionally, an accessible portable toilet is available at the parking lot during operating hours.

Directions

From Goethals and Verrazano Bridges

  • On I-278, take the exit for 440 South (West Shore Expressway). Take the last exit (exit # 1) on 440 South (just before the Outerbridge Crossing). At the end of the ramp there will be a traffic light, make a right. At the next intersection, take another right. At the traffic light, make a third right. This puts you on Page Avenue. Follow Page Ave until Hylan Blvd (go through four traffic lights, the fifth light is Hylan Blvd.) Take a LEFT on to Hylan Blvd and the parking lot for Mt. Loretto will be about 3/4 mile along Hylan Blvd on the right side.

  • Or, off the Verrazano Bridge, you can take the exit for Hylan Blvd and follow that south until you come to Mt. Loretto (the parking lot will be on the left coming this way).

Go to Google Maps, and enter your address for step-by-step directions to Mt. Loretto Unique Area. (Leaves the DEC website)

Rules, regulations, and outdoor safety

Prevent Lyme disease. Check yourself, children, and dogs for ticks after you enjoy the trails at Mt. Loretto.

Watch out for Poison Ivy. Mt. Loretto is home to all three forms of poison ivy: the free-standing, woody plants; the hairy, woody vines; and the small ground plant. To stay itch-free, remember the adage, "leaves of three, leave it be." (Add in "hairy vine, no friend of mine." and you are covered on the poison ivy front.)

Practice Leave No Trace (Leaves DEC website) principles when recreating on state land to enjoy the outdoors responsibly; minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts.

All users of Mt. Loretto Unique Area must follow all State Land Use Regulations and should follow all Outdoor Safety Practices for the safety of the user and protection of the resource.

Specific Rules

  1. No littering - a "Carry in, Carry out" facility
  2. Park vehicles only in designated areas
  3. Vehicles are not allowed beyond the parking area and cannot remain on the property overnight.
  4. Horseback riding is limited to the beach area only.
  5. Fishing is allowed in compliance with State regulations.
  6. Pedestrians and dogs are to remain on designated trails at all times. No one is allowed off trail or asphalt without a permit and escort.
  7. Dogs must remain on a leash at all times and owners must pick up after their dogs.
  8. Bicycles are allowed only on asphalt surfaces. (Riding on non-asphalt surfaces is prohibited)
  9. Prohibited activities include:
    1. Use of ATVs, snowmobiles, and other off-road vehicles
    2. Use of remote-controlled and model airplanes
    3. All fires, including camp grills and cooking fires
    4. Collection of plants, wildlife, and/or cultural material
    5. Introduction or release of plants and wildlife
    6. Removal and/or defacement of state property
    7. Hunting and trapping
    8. Use and discharge of any firearm or weapon
    9. Playing of radios, loudspeakers, or other sound equipment
    10. Alcoholic beverages
    11. Camping
  10. Jet-skis and other motorized watercraft are not allowed within 100 feet of shore.
  11. Kayaks, canoes, and other non-motorized watercraft are allowed on the seashore but cannot remain overnight.
  12. A Temporary Revocable Permit is required to perform the following activities at Mount Loretto Unique Area:
    1. filming
    2. activities taking place between sunset and sunrise
    3. placement of geocaches
  13. Visitors must comply with all DEC posted notices and DEC personnel instructions.

We Manage Mt. Loretto Unique Area

Prince's Bay lighthouse
Prince's Bay Lighthouse

One of the main management goals at Mt. Loretto is to improve and maintain nesting habitat for grassland birds. The NYSDEC management program now mows the meadows in late October, long after nestlings fledge. This practice will guarantee the preservation of open fields for many species.

Mount Loretto Unique Area is also home to the John Cardinal O'Connor Lighthouse (formerly Prince's Bay Lighthouse). The light house and attached keeper's cottage were constructed in the 1860s on the highest point of Staten Island's southern shore. Today the lighthouse cottage currently serves as the residence for the local forest ranger.

In 2006, the Mount Loretto Unique Area was expanded with the purchase of the Butler Manor Woods, a roughly 18-acre wetland area.

DEC has developed a Draft Southern Staten Island Unit Management Plan (PDF) (1.25 MB) which describes the proposed management activities for this lands. Each UMP addresses specific objectives and actions for public use and forest management. If you have questions and/or comments about this draft UMP, please email us.

Volunteers

DEC encourages volunteers who wish to help with trail maintenance, interpretive materials, invasive plant removal, garbage removal and wildlife habitat improvement. Please contact DEC for details at (718) 482-4942.

Nearby Areas and Attractions

Staten Island County Tourism (Leave DEC website)

Nearby State Lands
North Mount Loretto State Forest
Lemon Creek


More about Mt. Loretto Unique Area:

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  • Natural Resources
    Region 2
    47-40 21st Street
    Long Island City, NY 11101-5407
    718-482-7287
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