You really doesn't have to travel far from the heart of the city to feel like you've entered another world. After a meal of clam strips and milk shakes at Jonny's Reef on City Island, friends and I took a gray, hazy day walk through the Twin Islands Nature Hike at Orchard Beach. The trek began with a rare glimpse of a black squirrel and a shoe-destroying muddy path that eventually lead through the trees to an apocalyptic looking beach.
Broken down boats litter the rocky marsh and huge horseshoe crabs cry out in distress in the Bronx. Fortunately Jim and Mike were there to save them (after using an iPhone we found out that horseshoe crabs are often in need of assistance – a campaign called “just flip em” even began in the area – we also learned that their stingers are not poisonous, but it was still unnerving to watch them being picked up since they look like alien spiders on the inside).
More paths (speckled with poison ivy, so do be careful) lead to more strange landscapes and views. From a stone hill you can look out at both the city's Potter's Field and an island with what looks like a huge grounded boat right off its shore, Mike discovered this is actually a decommissioned naval training center.
While the nature trail (which we sort of crisscrossed parts of) is not a difficult walk, it can be a bit tricky with all the mud and uneven footing, so do wear appropriate footwear.