HikeBeyondLI: Pollmiller Lake Park

Where: Pollmiller Lake Park (West Point, Iowa)

What: Hike (trail, varied)

Snacks: Kim’s Confections Bakery (West Point, Iowa)

I want to start off by saying that bug spray is a must. I was eaten alive. If you know me personally you’ve seen this and laughed about it. I’m like a little kid in the summer, despite my best efforts I always end up a little bruised, bug bitten and sunburnt. Iowa has more bodies of water, and is far more humid than anticipated. As someone whose no stranger to humidity, this felt a little new.

Pollmiller is a lake, campground, playground and all around neat destination, if a little confusing. Parking lots are scattered along a paved loop and hit various points of interest including a swimming area. No parking along the road. Dogs are allowed but must be leashed.

Trails are paved or gravel. For the first time, in a long time I didn’t track any mileage and just went with the flow. Sometimes we all need a serene little reminder to just exist. Enjoy the sounds of unfamiliar wildlife. Enjoy the paved, wide, flat trails and the ample sun. Be prepared for minimal to not shade coverage. As a New Yorker, the lack of shade was something to adjust to. Benches are scattered along the trail for those in need of a rest.

This place feels like I once saw it in a dream. The winding paved paths and the winding roads all tap into something, like when walking a labyrinth. Speaking of dreams, I had the dreamiest blueberry lemon bread pudding at Kim’s Confections Bakery. Seriously, I didn’t know my life was missing such a confection.

See you on the trails,

x Jess

PS: I don’t know if there are ticks here. But, living where I live, I watch for them always. It is just the Long Island way.

HikeLI: Welwyn Preserve

Where: Welwyn Preserve (Glen Cove, NY)

What: Hike (trail, unpaved)

Snacks: Karmic Grinds (Locust Valley, NY)

Welwyn Preserve County Park is located at 100 Crescent Beach Road in Glen Cove. It is 204 acres of the Gold Coast estate of industrialist Harold Pratt. The original mansion now holds Nassau County’s Holocaust museum. Preserve and museum however differ. As of this writing there is no parking fee for preserver goers. Museum admission is $10.

A housekeeping note. Dogs are not allowed at the preserve. This was a great feature to me, given how ubiquitous off leashed dogs are where I frequent. However, no one checks and no one listens. If you’re looking for a dog free hike this might not be it. Sometimes it’s hard to enjoy a hike when dogs you don’t know are constantly running up to you.

The trail itself is roughly 2.4 miles and consists of cobblestones closer to the estate, paved potions and dirt. The main draw are the portions of the estate that were left untouched. Greenhouse structures, garages and small ancillary buildings near the main estate house. Time and graffiti have claimed all of them, so do proceed with caution.

The trail is unmarked, so we left up the All Trails map the entire time. (According to the Nassau County website there are four marked trails. While I believe them, with the amount of graffiti, it maybe be very difficult to trust a perceived blaze.)

Without it, we would have gotten lost in all of the interlocking footpaths. Which, gave the appearance of old carriage roads. The trail is overgrown in many places, be sure to check for ticks on your way out.

Ruins aside the trail boasts a beach and some other lovely water features. It is incredibly buggy so be prepared.

The morning ended with coffees from Karmic Grind.

Heckscher Park

Where: Heckscher Park and art museum (Huntington, NY)

What: Casual stroll (trail, paved)

Snacks: Ella’s (Huntington, NY)

Let’s talk short, sweet, no stress kind of days. Days where your only worry is parking in busy Long Island towns. Speaking of, on a rainy, unseasonably chilly day, parking was still at a premium. To the point where you feel relief after parking. Or maybe I’m just overthinking this. Everyone knows I hate when parking isn’t easy.

Heckscher Park is located at the corner of 25a and Prime Avenue, about a ten minute walk from the 110 / 25a intersection. Ample parking onsite, but, if you want to pair it with a day in town I recommend taking advantage of the sidewalks and the short walk by parking in town. Yes, I know that I just said parking was at a premium in town and ample at Heckscher but you can leave your car in town. You can’t park at Heckscher all day.

The 18 acre park was donated to Huntington by August and Nannie Heckscher, and has been under jurisdiction of the town since 1954. The grounds boast an art museum, which I was too late to see, a playground and sport fields. Art museum closes at 5pm and I believe the grounds, as of this writing are until dusk.

It is a short, sweet little walk with lots of flowers. The paved network is probably about a twenty minute stroll through. Tulip season, currently.

Paired the day with fancy pizza at Ella’s and a stroll around Northport harbor. Pizza not pictured. Do you know how hard it is to get an appetizing photo of pizza? So take this cool colored drink as consolation.

Speaking of, if you fancy yourself an art person; Northport is home to beautiful galleries. Take a stroll, take in some art, grab a coffee and relax in the gazebos by the harbor.

See you on the trails,


HikeLI: Ashley Schiff Park Preserve

Where: Ashley Schiff Park Preserve (Stony Brook, NY)

What: Hike (trail, unpaved), Walk (side walk, paved)

Snacks: The Cookie Shop (Centereach, NY)

Nestled on the grounds of Stony Brook University’s Campus is a tiny little H- shaped trail network. To find, enter Stony Brook’s campus from the South Entrance on Nicolls Road. Turn right onto Marburger Drive. Keep right at the traffic circle and the preserve entrance will be on your right.

The fun part? Figuring out where you can park on campus without getting a ticket. It is simpler to find appropriate parking on a weekend as many of the lots only have Monday through Friday restrictions.

The preserve itself is about a fifteen minute walk through. Mostly flat and cuts from Circle Road to the dental clinic. Trails are designated red, yellow and blue. They’re well marked on the trees. If the short wooded stroll isn’t enough I recommend leaving the preserve on the Circle Road side and heading left. Pass the traffic circle, cross at the crosswalk, bounce down the stairs and make a quick loop around Roth pond. It adds about fifteen minutes. Or if you’re in the mood for a longer walk Circle Road is …. a circle and happens to be almost three miles.

For snacks we head to The Cookie Shop. A new storefront serving all things cookie. Fun fact, maybe five years ago I got obsessed with macarons and theirs are my favorite locally.

See you on the trails,

x Jess

HikeLI: Hunter’s Point South Park

Where: Hunter’s Point South Park (Long Island City, NY)

What: Walk (path, paved)

Snacks: Black Star Bakery Cafe (Long Island City, NY)

Enter at Center Boulevard between 50th Avenue and 2nd Street. GPS this one because I got off at Woodside and followed my heart. Well, not really, I followed a friend. But, it felt like following my heart because it was a) pouring and b) my mask wasn’t helping the situation with my glasses. I should wear my contacts more often, but hear me out, after a time my eyes get bloodshot and itchy. It’s unpredictable so we limit usage to special occasions requiring false lashes.

That being said, I don’t look as outdoorsy as I feel. If it wasn’t obvious from the false lash comment.

I like trains. Something about them, whether I’m going to DC, the Midwest or into Manhattan fills me with such longing and possibility. I don’t always pretend my life is a romance novel but, I’m infatuated with the idea that one day I’ll feel magic. Unlike other people I can’t romanticize Manhattan. Although, I really want to. Commute to the City on enough rush hour trains, in varying degrees of inclement weather and you’ll understand where the magic gets lost.

On to the park. South Hunter’s is a relatively new waterfront park with great views of Manhattan. Provided cityscapes are something you enjoy. It boasts a playground, dog park, bikeway and a seriously dedicated running community.

The park is maintained by the Hunter’s Point Parks Conservatory. It was opened in 2018 and is roughly 10 acres. The park itself is a short sweet walk but, if you’re a dog person it is really dreamy. Watch the dogs. Pet the dogs. Enjoy the cityscape.

For snacks we head to Black Star Bakery Cafe for a flat white. Sadly, no seating inside of the restaurant, a business decision based on current conditions. You know the ones; the same ones that require masks.

See you in the trails,

x Jess

HikeLI: Forsythe Meadow County Park

Where: Forsythe Meadow County Park (Stony Brook, NY)

What: Hike (trail, unpaved)

Snacks: Druthers Coffee (Stony Brook, NY)

This place is almost literally around the corner from Avalon on Hollow Road in Stony Brook. The entrance has the typical easy to miss sign of smaller county parks. The lot only holds about three cars.

I didn’t track mileage, but the walk took about a half hour – through a field, trails that feel familiar and a bamboo forest. Mix of white and yellow blazes. The trail is self contained, so getting lost doesn’t appear to be an issue. You are in a residential area, so be mindful.

It’s always nice to come home. Had a pleasant orange spiced from Druthers Coffee. Pleasant chilly morning.

See you on the trails,


HikeBeyond: Stoppel Point

Where: Somewhere in the Catskills

What: Trail, Unpaved (rocky and flooded)

Snacks: Yum Yum Noodle Bar (Woodstock, NY)

Hello friends. Welcome to another entry of this. What have you been up to? Me, I’ve been roaming the same familiar woods, reading and putting INOJ’s Love You Down on repeat. I’m also feeling like, as Cat Marnell described, “A lonely weirdo who feels like she’s under water most of the time.” I’ve also been baking and playing with flowers, a lot.

This weekend, in an attempt to stop moping (and feeling the weight of my personal life coupled with the pandemic), I ventured to Woodstock, NY. Stayed at the contactless Woodstock Inn and spent time roaming Main Street and meandering in the woods.

This adventure begins at Mary’s Glen and ends at the Stoppel Point plane crash site and is an out and back. You can continue on to Dutcher’s Notch from here and beyond if you so choose. Parking is located at the North South Lake Falls Campground. Address 874 North Lake Road Haines Falls, NY 12436. The recommendation is to get there early. By the time we left, there was a line 15 cars long to get in. As of this writing there was a $10.00 parking fee.

The trail, the date we went was after a rain storm. Hike the Catskills they say. It’s beautiful in the fall, they say. Well, it is, but … it’s also rocky, slippery and flooded out in places. Choose your own risk level. We fell, not hard. We got wet, but not soaked.

The problem with rocky, flooded, slippery trails is the mental energy it takes to stay safe. That person you pass in Converse is going to have a hard time. You, my friend shouldn’t have a hard time with appropriate footwear.

Wind along the red trail, use caution, some of the blazes are difficult to find. When you reach North Ledge look for the informational sign and follow the blue blazes. The next informational sign you see go left and keep going until you get to the crash site. Turn around and go back the way you came or continue in to Dutcher’s Notch and beyond.

History brief: The crash occurred in 1983 and the plane is still there. The pilot died. He did not have a flight plan and only had a revoked student pilot license (information from Catskill Mountaineer).

The Woodstock Inn is walking distance from the main drag. You have your choice of shops and eateries. Woodstock itself is very vegan friendly when it comes to food options. Today’s adventure enter at Yum Yum Noodle Bar.

See you on the trails,


BikeLI: Nissequogue River State Park

Where: Nissequogue River State Park (Kings Park, NY)

What: Bike (trail, paved)

Snacks : Strong Island Ice Cream (Smithtown, NY)

Nestled among the ruins of the old Kings Park Psychiatric Center is a short, sweet multi purpose paved path. The 1.5 mile path stretches from the Old Dock Road entrance of Nissequogue River State Park to a public parking lot on Church Street.

The option also exists to bike through the park lots and on town roads. Shady spots however, are few and far between. I pair this path with a stroll around the park grounds. Not only do you get an up close personal view of the old facilities but, just across Old Dock Road is another park entrance that boasts beautiful water views.

Entering the buildings constitutes trespassing. Now, you know how I feel about trespassing. So, I’ll just say this, for the curious – there are plenty of missing doorways and open crawl spaces. Don’t get tetanus. The grounds are supposed to be patrolled by State Police. In daylight. I have never seen an officer. That doesn’t mean they aren’t present.

For snacks this week, we ventured to a local ice cream shop. Rumor has it, they opened in winter so you know they have to good to stay open through a pandemic and a cold season.

See you on the trails,



HikeLI: Sunken Forest

Where: Sunken Forest (Fire Island, NY)

What: Hike (trail, boardwalk, beach)

Snacks: The Shed (Sayville, NY)

Hello Friends!

I’ve been lazy. Going new places hasn’t been a priority. Certainly finding new snacks hasn’t been a priority. But, like a fool I decided that Fire Island was exactly where I needed to be on the Fourth of July.

I don’t drink, I hate fireworks and I don’t like crowds. Basically, it’s my least favorite holiday. But, the sun was out. The company was stellar and the ferry ride is always pleasant.

To get to Sunken Forest take the Sayville Ferry to Sailors Haven. The ferry ride is about 20 minutes and you can find the schedule on the Sayville Ferry website at http://www.sayvilleferry.com. Cost as of this writing was $18 round trip. You can walk to Cherry Grove from Sailors Haven but, the only thing you can do at Sailors Haven is sail, beach, boardwalk hike or drink at the beach hut.

Masks required on the ferry.

Sunken Forest is a 1.5 mile boardwalk with with the option to extend to sand. It’s serene and smells kind of homey. If home were a forest overlapping a beach. In my head, it is. Ecotone my friends, ecotone.

After a few hours roaming the beach and the boardwalks, sunburn set it. Cool. I’m usually very pro sunscreen reapplication. Far more safety conscious. You know what happened? Ferry ride tequila sunrises for a girl who doesn’t drink. No, I’m not sure if alcohol is actually allowed on the ferry. Turns out, while I’m not a drinker I make a mean tequila sunrise. Extra cherry, always.

Anyway, taking an early ferry back to Sayville was a great idea. Do you know how many local news articles came out about mask-less debauchery on Fire Island? Lots. I’m in none of those photos. I hope.

So, we roamed Sayville looking for an opened place and stumbled upon The Shed at the end of town. They had picnic style outdoor seating and I followed all of the masked guidelines.

See you on the trails! x Jess

PS: Maybe not because I look like a spy in my mask.

HikeLI: David A. Sarnoff Preserve

Where: David A. Sarnoff Preserve (Riverhead, NY)

What: Hike (trail, unpaved)

Snacks: Main Street Biscuit Co. (Jamesport, NY)

This DEC managed property is off limits during shotgun season and requires a permit to hike on. Don’t let that deter you; hunting season starts the first Sunday in January and ends on the 31st. As far as hiking permits go, it is a form you fill out yourself through the DEC website. You print it. Part stays on your dashboard and the other on your person. There isn’t a simpler permitting process.

Now that the housekeeping items are out of the way, let’s talk parking. There are multiple one to two car cutouts around the perimeter of the preserve. I usually use the area after the Route 24 traffic circle on Riverleigh Avenue. After exiting the traffic circle this alcove will be on your right. Look for a sign designating the preserve. Signs will tell you that you can’t park from sunset to sunrise.

Follow the paved access road (on foot), while keeping a close eye to your left. You’ll want to be on the look out for a red trail blaze to begin the 4.4 mile loop trail. Here’s where it gets tricky, this area is a little sparse, making the trail hard to locate. Rumor has it, due to beetle infestations trees had to be removed. They litter where we begin and end the loop. The trail markers are still in place.

After you navigate this section, the trail is well marked and easy to follow. Keep looking for those red blazes. A yellow trail runs through the preserve but that isn’t our loop. At various points you’ll see directional markers. The trail to kettle hole is completely overgrown, so, if bushwhacking is your thing, have at it. The trail to Wildwood Lake sends you to a residential road. The lake will be up on your left through the trees.

Toward the end of the loop, you’ll begin to lose trail again. Thanks to those pesky beetles. Just keep moving, safely forward. The blazes, for the most part, are still up in this section. Once you’re back on the access road, your loop is complete.

I didn’t see anyone else on the trail or in the parking area. It’s mostly flat, largely enjoyably but it is lacking any major view points. If a nice, quiet walk in the woods is what you’re craving this one is for you.

Headed over to Main Street Biscuit Co. afterwards. It was crowded for a winter morning but not unpleasant. Super cute place, diner style breakfast.

See you on the trails,