Spring salutations! Now is the perfect time to get out of the house, lace up your hiking boots and start exploring the many hiking and nature trails that Long Island has to offer.
Whether you're Nassau County or Suffolk County bound the Island is chock full of hiking options ranging from advanced to beginner. With such diverse terrain Long Island has something for everyone, waterside views, densely wooded paths, and a variety of plant and animal life to marvel at. Many of these great parks are run by the state, which means you can use your Empire Passport to get in for free all season long!
Happy Trailing (But remember, don’t forget the bug spray!)
Caleb Smith State Park Preserve: This Suffolk County, Smithtown based preserve has 543 acres of picturesque habitat. As you make your way through the paths and trails be sure to keep an eye out for the rare flowers that can be found here, including the Indian Pipe, the Pink Lady Slipper and the Trailing Arbutus.
Camp Hero State Park: Located in Montauk this former U.S. military installation encompasses 415 acres of diverse terrain including wooded areas and beachfront views. You can even get up close and personal to the Montauk Radar Tower.
Long Island Greenbelt Trail/Nissequogue River State Park: Located on the north shore of Long Island the Greenbelt Trail, which runs parallel to the Nissequogue River, provides scenic views from the top of the bluffs overlooking the Nissequogue River and the Long Island Sound. A wonderful spot for bird watching, it even has a designated State Bird Conservation Area.
Long Island Pine Barrens Trail: Take a day and get lost in the beauty of nature on this 47- mile trek from Rocky Point all the way to Hampton Bays. You’ll be sure to encounter plenty of deer and wild turkey on your journey.
Massapequa Preserve: Divided into three sections, this 423 acre preserve is an ecological gem. The freshwater swamps, bog areas and marsh accommodate a habitat for many rare and exquisite plants. With that in mind make sure to bring along your camera to get some shots of the endangered Long Island plants that grow here, including orchids and carnivorous plants.
Muttontown Preserve: Muttontown is Nassau County’s largest nature preserve and home to various local flora and fauna ranging from amphibians to wildflowers. Maps and brochures are available depicting the various notable spots along the trails.
West Hills County Park/Walt Whitman Trail: Bring along your copy of, "Leaves of Grass" and enjoy the historic Walt Whitman Trail to Jayne’s Hill which reaches a staggering elevation of 400 feet and is the highest peak on Long Island.
Welwyn Nature Preserve: The former estate of Harold Irving Pratt in Glen Cove, Welwyn Nature Preserve is 204 acres of diverse fresh water ponds, salt marshes, streams, swamps and woods. The preserve has four marked nature trails and is also home to the Holocaust Memorial & Educational Center.
Now go grab your best pair of hiking shoes, a backpack with some grub,
and your camera to snap a few shots of Spring at its absolute best!
Image by Kelly Tenny