Most expats know centrally located parks like Gorky Park, Park Pobedy, Neskuchniy Sad and many others. All these are very popular, really nice places, providing lots of activities.
There are however secluded areas in Moscow where you can escape crowds, enjoy the quiet, be in the nature without leaving the city. One of those places is Bitzevsky park. If you look at Moscow map, you will find large green area in the South of Moscow, stretched from Chertanovo to MKAD. This is Bitzevsky park or Bitzevsky forest.
Bitzevsky park has status of a nature reserve. This status does not allow any construction or any activities in the park, that would disrupt the nature. For the most part Bitzevsky park is a dense wood with extensive grid of trails. Basic park amenities include some paved walking lanes and benches. The park has dedicated picnic area where you can officially use fire grills (setting fire in other parts of the park is prohibited). Picnicking is quite popular among people living nearby.
Other activities park is popular for include running, biking or just walking. There are numerous walking routs through the park. It is a quiet place and if you go off main paved lanes, you will be all alone in the wood.
The park can be accessed by car or by subway. Nearest subway stations are: Chertanovskaya, Belyaevo, Novoyasenevskaya. To access park entrance it will require walking on foot or taking bus from any subway station, except for Novoyasenevskaya, which is located right on the edge of the park. From Novoyasenevskaya one of the main alleys starts, which is paved and cuts through souther part of the park.
Northern part of the park has dedicated bike lane. The lane has special marking and bike traffic signage. The lane starts at Belyaevo subway, runs along Mikluho-Maklaya street and continues into the park. It cuts through the northern part of the park, goes around Chertanovo Severnoe and ends at Chertanovskaya subway station. Leisurely ride between two subway stations takes approximately an hour of time. There are rental bike stations available at both ends of the lane.
You can however get off the bike lane and do biking in other parts of the park. The park is extremely popular among bikers as you can do all types of biking in the park. The park terrain is not flat, trails go up and down, there is lots of ravins in the park. Some people do extreme biking, some do just slow rides. I filmed short video to show what not so extreme biking in Bitzevsky park looks like.
Northern part of the park has large field (bike lane and main walking lane in the North go through it), popular for sunbathing in summer. In the middle of a field there are some wooden statues and structures made of log. Those used to warship pagan gods. Sometimes on weekends you can see a group of people singing songs and saying prayers to gods well forgotten after Russia accepted Christianity.
Wildlife in the park is represented by over 90 species of birds, squirrels, snakes (not venom) and smaller animals like frogs and mice. A number of springs and small rivers run through Bitzevsky park.
It takes approximately two and a half to three hours to cross the park on foot from north to south. Exiting on the far south end of the park gets you to Lesoparkovaya subway station. Southern end of the park is less visited by people and feels more like a wilderness area. There are many other routs that will get you from subway station to subway station through the park.
In winter, Bitzevsky park turns into a cross-country skiing paradise. If you are a skier, you do not have to leave Moscow to enjoy skiing. Skiing is popular in Russia and in winter the park is packed with people of all ages from young kids with their parents to elderly people — all skiing. On the western edge of the park there is mountain ski slope equipped with elevators.
Few precautions when visiting Bitzevsky park:
Although the park is patrolled by police and even on week days has many people, going alone is not a good idea. For safety sake, have company, especially if you walk in the southern part of the park, more secluded and less visited by people.
In some areas of the park there is no cell network coverage. It depends on your provider and location in the park, but there will be blind spots.
There is no streets light in the park. Walking in the dark requires good torch light.
The park has lots of trails, some of them are on maps, specifically Yandex maps has all major lanes. However it’s easy to get lost, so having compass and printed map can be quite useful.
There is no way of buying water or food in the park, take some snack and water if you go on a long stroll.
Most trails have no pavement, having proper footwear is important. Especially in summer and in between seasons it gets real dirty in the park. Some trails have gravel covering and this is a rough type of gravel, so have proper shoes on.
Be cautious about bikers, ride their bikes like crazy. Be careful not to step onto bike lane and be cautious about bikers riding off dedicated bike lane.
All the pictures in this publication are taken by me.