Saturday's Top 10: Long Island Nature Preserves

Long Island has no shortage of various wildlife ecosystems and habitats.

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Long Island has no shortage of various wildlife ecosystems and habitats. This is perfect for nature lovers, those looking to get away from a hectic schedule and reconnect with nature or anyone looking for cheap or free activities to enjoy with their friends. Explore the many wonders of the wild at any of these Long Island parks and nature preserves. Visitors will find all sorts of trees and plant life, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and more, all indigenous to the Long Island environment. A number of these preserves also have ecological education centers and museums where visitors may gain knowledge of Long Island’s natural habitats and history.

1. Avalon Park and Preserve spreads across eight acres and is the recreation of the natural environments of Long Island discovered by the early settlers of New York. Highlights include a large duck pond, a boardwalk, footpaths and a labyrinth.
Avalon Park and Preserve, 200 Harbor Road, Stony Brook – (631) 689-0619
2. Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center, established in 1923, was the nation’s first bird sanctuary. The sanctuary provides quality educational resources as well as wildlife research and conservation.
Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center, 134 Cove Road, Oyster Bay – (516) 922-3200
3. The Cranberry Bog County Nature Preserve is a 165 acre preserve, all that remains of an abandoned cranberry-growing operation. Visitors will enjoy miles of hiking trails that allow for views of the Little Peconic River, and various bird, reptile, and plant specials plus plenty of other wildlife.
Cranberry Bog County Nature Preserve, Edwards Avenue South, Riverhead – (631) 854-4949
4. The Caleb Smith State Park Preserve is one of only two New York State nature preserves. This picturesque preserve comprised of over 543 acres containing nature trails, bird watching huts, a lake where fishing is permitted April through October, and a recently renovated Nature Museum with a number of exhibits.
Caleb Smith State Park Preserve, 581 West Jericho Turnpike, Smithtown – (631) 265-1054
5. The Connetquot River State Park is one of Long Island’s biggest, resting upon 3,473 acres of land. It contains over 50 miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding, cross country skiing, and nature walks. Fishing is allowed at Connetquot River with a permit.
Connetquot River State Park, Sunrise Highway, Oakdale – (631) 581-1005
6. Inside the Welwyn Nature Preserve visitors will find four trails leading along various ponds, swamps, salt marches and even a stretch of the Long Island Sound. Visitors will also get the chance to catch a glimpse of more than 100 species of birds, small mammals, reptiles, and other wildlife inhabiting the 204 acre preserve. It is also the home of the Holocaust Memorial & Educational Center.
Welwyn Nature Preserve, 100 Cresent Beach Road, Glen Cove – (516) 676-1474
7. The Tackapausha Museum and Preserve, an 84 acre sanctuary, is one of the more popular preserves on Long Island. Located in Seaford, it is rich with oak forests, ponds, streams, small mammals and many bird species. The five miles of marked trails make for wonderful and scenic hiking.
Tackapausha Museum and Preserve, Washington Avenue (at Merrick Road & Sunrise Highway), Seaford – (516) 571-7443
8. Sands Point Preserve offers visitors a delightful stroll on six marked trails through woodlands, fields, pond, and a stretch of beach on the Long Island Sound. Guided nature walks on the 216 acre preserve are available.
Sands Point Preserve, 127 Middleneck Road, Port Washington – (516) 571-7900
9. The Massapequa Preserve consists of 423 acres of land divided into three sections, intersected by major roadways. The Preserve is home to many rare and endangered Long Island plants and is home to the beginning of the Nassau-Suffolk Greenbelt Trail, the longest hiking trail in Nassau County.  A license is required to fish in the various lakes and streams within the preserve.
Massapequa Preserve, Merrick Road and Ocean Avenue, Massapequa – (516) 571-7443
10. Muttontown Preserve contains 550 acres of fields, woodlands, ponds and miles of marked nature trails where visitors will see various local wildlife including birds, mammals and reptiles. Cross country skiing is available in the winter. 
Muttontown Preserve, Muttontown Lane, East Norwhich – (516) 571-8500
This is just a small selection of the various parks, preserves and sanctuaries located on Long Island. Visit our Things To Do page for more fun places to visit or stop by the Forums to discuss your favorites.