Put on your walking shoes at the water’s edge. When hiking on Long Island this fall, there’s water, water everywhere, and not just in your canteen. Hiking trails in local parks and preserves offer refreshing trail and trail views of scenic lakes and rivers, idyllic ponds, crashing Atlantic waves and even a few sparkling waterfalls.
Be sure to follow all published COVID-19 guidelines and protect yourself from ticks by wearing protective clothing and checking your skin after your hike.
EDGE OF THE LAKE
Twin Lakes Reserve, Wantagh
• Free entry
• Entrance on Park Avenue west of Wantagh Parkway
• Open all year round, from dawn to dusk
You may have seen Twin Lakes while driving near the preserve on the Wantagh State Parkway. But you can also take a Tom Sawyer-style exploration of the 58-acre state-owned land managed by the town of Hempstead. The forest trail passes by three lakes, a man-made waterfall, freshwater wetlands and grasslands. You can fish for trout, which is stocked in the fall. (New York State freshwater fishing license required; dec.ny.gov/permits).
Lake Hempstead State Park
• 1000 Lake Drive, West Hempstead
• Open Saturday, Sunday and holidays through Columbus Day
• Admission at $2
• 516-766-1029, parks.ny.gov/parks/hempsteadlake
The popular park offers an easy hike for families with kids and dogs — you’ll need to keep the puppies on a leash. The trail skirts Lake Hempstead – the largest lake in Nassau County – and smaller McDonald and South ponds. Kids can end their day fishing or riding the historic hand-carved wooden merry-go-round.
Lake Belmont State Park
• Southern State Parkway, Exit 38, North Babylon
• 631-667-5055, parks.ny.gov
BelmontLake’s 7.6 miles of multi-use trails offer an unexpected sight: two bubbling waterfalls. The best-known waterfall is located at the south end of the scenic lake where ducks frolic and fall foliage ablazes red, orange and yellow. The water tumbles over rocks and under a footbridge before flowing into the Carlls River en route to the bay. Deeper in the woods on the park trail, Little Falls rushes over a rocky river bed under a wooden footbridge. Instagram, anyone?
THE SOUND OF LONG ISLAND
Sunken Meadow State Park
• trail suitable for dogs
• Take Sunken Meadow State Parkway exit SM4E to Pulaski Road East and continue east to Old Dock Road
• Free parking and trail entrance is on the west side of Old Dock Road
• 631-269-4333, parks.ny.gov
This hike is a land thing for you and your canine companion. At the undeveloped east end of the 1,287-acre park, you can traverse a hilly, densely forested, and at times steep and rocky trail that skirts the bluffs overlooking Long Island Sound. Two sunny meadows allow rest and rehydration before descending through the cliffs to the shore of Long Island Sound.
• 20 Sagamore Hill Road, Oyster Bay
• Trail entrance behind the Old Orchard Museum
Teddy Roosevelt was an avid hiker who often descended to his estate’s swimming hole. Today’s hikers can follow in Teddy’s footsteps on the dirt trail through tulip forest, on the boardwalk over Eel Creek, to Cold Spring Harbor Beach, dotted with sailboats. Swimming is not allowed, but dogs can walk with you. You’ll also get additional views of the 3,209-acre Oyster Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
Shadmoor State Park
• 900 Montauk Highway, Montauk
• 631-668-3781, parks.ny.gov
The Roosevelt’s Run Trail, which winds through 99-acre Shadmoor State Park, opens at one point to a dazzling seascape: blue skies, rugged seaside cliffs, and 2,400 feet of sparkling ocean beach accessible by two stairs. To the east you can see the village of Montauk. Another trail leads to Ditch Plains surfer beach. Also noteworthy are the abandoned WWII bunkers along the trail that once protected the coast with artillery guns.
Bayard Cut Arboretum
• 440 Montauk Highway, Great River
• closed Mondays, $8 parking fee charged on weekends and holidays through November
• 631-581-1002, bayardcuttingarboretum.com
A trip to see the collection of dwarf evergreens planted last fall is another reason to take a river walk along a wide stretch of the Connetquot, one of Long Island’s longest rivers. Keep your eyes peeled for birds – blue herons, egrets, bald eagles – and a collection of native plants (cattails, elderberries, wild blueberries) on Breezy Island at the end of the river walk. Return to the historic house for pie at the Hidden Oak Cafe.