From beginner pathways to more advanced terrain that can test even the most seasoned hiker, Long Island has some of the best trails around.
If there’s one thing that Long Island is known far and wide for, it is the vast amount of scenic hiking trails that give local residents access to some breathtaking views of nature, while at the same time allowing them to stretch their legs and get some exercise at the same time.
From beginner pathways that are mainly flat to more advanced terrain that can test even the most seasoned hiker, Long Island has some of the best trails around, and now that the fall season is upon us, it’s the perfect time to go out and experience hiking as only Long Island can provide.
Here’s a list of the Top 8 hiking trails on Long Island to explore:
Long Island Greenbelt Trail: This is the original Greenbelt hiking trail, completed in 1982 and clocking in at 31.8 miles, running from Sunken Meadow State Park on the Long Island Sound to Heckscher State Park on the Great South Bay. The trail takes you varied and lovely terrain, including forests, beaches, marshes, and even residential neighborhoods.
Nassau-Suffolk Greenbelt Trail: This trail, part of the Greenbelt Trail System, is 20 miles long and affords those who traverse it some wonderful opportunities to experience nature in an up-close and personal way. The trail – which features a parallel mountain-biking trail as well – extends from Cold Spring Harbor and the Massapequa Preserve watershed, and also connects with the Walt Whitman Trail.
Walt Whitman Trail: Another part of the Greenbelt Trail System, this pathway begins at the famous poet’s South Huntington birthplace and continues through West Hills County Park; this includes a 3.7 mile loop through the Sweet Hollow Road picnic area and beautiful views of the ocean from atop Jayne’s Hill.
Planting Fields Arboretum State Park: A National Register property and the former home of the W.R. Coe family - their estate is still located on the grounds and is open for tours - Planting Fields, located in Oyster Bay, New York, features 400 acres filled with elaborate gardens, extensive greenhouses, and numerous nature trails.
Belmont Lake State Park: This 463-acre park features a number of amenities for guests, such as rowboat and paddleboat rentals for use on Belmont Lake (season runs from May through the end of October), as well as a nearly 8 miles of hiking and bicycle trails that run throughout beautiful wooded areas teeming with flowers and wildlife.
Muttontown Preserve: This Nassau County preserve – featuring 550 acres of fields, wooded areas, ponds and more – boasts miles of marked nature trails that offer those that traverse them rare glimpses of local wildlife, flowers, trees, and more. Comprised of land from three separate estates – including that of King Zog of Albania, whose former mansion can still be viewed, albeit in ruins – Muttontown Preserve was named “Best Nature Walk of Long Island” in 2006.
Long Island Pine Barrens Trail: A 47-mile route from Rocky Point to Hampton Bays, the Pine Barrens is renowned for it’s vast and varied ecosystem, being home to thousands of unique animal and plant species; this includes over 100 bird species, many of which are endangered. The terrain itself is equally varied, with dry upland areas featuring lush forests giving way to a diverse range of wetland, including bogs, marshes, and swamps.
Caleb Smith State Park Preserve: Located in Smithtown, Caleb Smith Preserve is 543 acres of woodland beauty that features picturesque views that cater in particular to bird watchers, with species such as Prothonotary Warblers, Virginia Rails and Osprey calling the park home. Caleb Smith Preserve is one of four state nature preserves situated on Long Island.
Of course, this is only a small glimpse into all the hiking locations that Long Island has to offer…there are many, many more! What are your favorite hiking locations on Long Island? Let us know in the comments below!