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,



HikeLI: Southards Pond Park

Where: Southards Pond Park (Babylon, NY)

What: Hike (trail, unpaved)

Snacks: Villa Bella Bakery (West Babylon, NY)

Once upon a time a girl ordered a Negroni. They are her favorite cocktail. But, she was at a trendy spot and it wasn’t called a Negroni. It has some cheeky name so she ordered it by that cheeky name. The waiter asked her if she was sure. He said because, “it’s basically a Negroni and people find them bitter.” Cool.

So, Babylon. I have mixed feelings about it. During the day I love it for the cute town it is. At night, when I go, I text at least one person to ask them why i keep participating in the same sh*t show. None of this means anything, I’m just feeling chatty today. If recipe bloggers can give you their life story, I guess I can give you the story of a day as opposed to the story of a hike.

So, I drink my Negroni slowly. They used a gin brand called ‘Old Tom’, which, was surprisingly awesome. One of the best Negronis I’ve ever had, minus the whole are-you-sure conversation. Whatever, I’m with cool people and I’m not as bitter as my favorite cocktail.

As a team of four we head off to Southards Pond Park. I like the entrance at Pond Place and Southard Lane. Use the intersection for your address. There is a sign, a pretty clear entrance and you can park on the street. The Park has many entrances but I think this one is the simplest to get to.

The park loop is about 1.4 miles. It is flat, packed dirt and only narrow in a few places. Muddy in a handful of places but as it hugs the lake closely and is sometimes flanked by water on both sides, this is expected. Wear shoes that you don’t mind getting muddy.

Via the Sunrise Highway underpass you can connect all of the way to Belmont Lake State Park. It’s a nice walk. Lots of dogs, lots of people on bicycle, lots of people in general. It is the most suburban trail you’ll ever walk.

Keeping things Italian today, Villa Bella reminds me of the Italian bakeries my grandmother used to ferry me to on Sunday mornings so that we could have smorgasbord of pastries with Sunday sauce. It’s a smell and a vibe that I didn’t know I missed. Pignoli cookies and sfogliatella dominate my mind. Cappuccino with extra foam is always the play. Before I knew it I’m taking home half a pound of lemon drops because I have problems with nostalgia and a constant desire for sugar. Leave me to my gluttony.

See you on the trails,



HikeLI: Sunken Meadow Etc.

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

What: Hike (trail, unpaved)

Snacks: Café Portofino (Northport, NY)

Typically, I only come to Sunken Meadow in summers to laze about the boardwalk and listen to jam bands. I avoid the trails because they are difficult to navigate and pop out in local neighborhoods. They’re easy to lose and mostly unmarked.

Today, I did something uncharacteristic. I went to Sunken Meadow and Nissequogue with a group led by the lovely Ed Moran of Eastern Outdoor Experiences. Group hikes aren’t usually for me. I’m not great with small talk, often dislike the speed of the group and have a tendency to wander off. Surprisingly, this group had a pace I was comfortable with, a guide that pointed out things that I would wander off to see anyway and I got to learn all about bird watching instead of trying small talk. Superior group hike.

Without Ed, I wouldn’t have gone to Sunken Meadow. We did 10 + miles on a loop of Ed’s design traversing road, park path, beach, bluffs and along Sunken Meadow Parkway. I couldn’t repeat the loop if I tried. We crossed 25A to see the remains of an old fire tower. I didn’t know there were fire towers on LI at one point. If you’re a regular reader, you already know that fire tower hikes are some of my favorites. There isn’t any tower left but, some old anchor points. Imagining the view that could have been, I’m disappointed.

The day ended in the park itself with a stunning beach walk followed by a loop up to the bluffs.

I took myself to Cafe Portofino for a campfire mocha (it tastes like a s’mores with a perfectly cooked marshmallow).

See you on the trails.



HikeBeyond: Hudson Highlands State Park

Where: Hudson Highlands State Park (Cold Spring, NY)

What: Hike (trail, unpaved)

Snacks: The Black Cow (Croton-on-Hudson, NY)

Sometimes the best mornings start with a long drive, good coffee and an empty parking lot. To get to the appropriate parking lot for this hike put 41.42659,-73.96534 into your GPS. This will bring you to the Washburn Trail Head – right across from Little Stony Point.

Today, we’re going to summit Bull Hill / Mt. Taurus. Then we’re completing the loop to get to the Cornish Estate Ruins. Ready? Our loops is 5.5-6 miles depending upon the amount of exploration you choose to do around the ruins. This took about three hours to complete but do go at your own pace.

Starting on the Washburn Trail follow the white trail blazes. The trail is well marked but keep an eye out, there are a few places where it is easy to lose – rocky, steep areas that don’t quite look like trail. If you’re a fan of trekking poles, you may want them on this one. Every so often you’ll come up upon a great viewpoint. I would argue, this hike has the best views of the Hudson Valley, surpassing even Storm King. On a clear day, you can see to NYC.

Take the white trail to the end, marked by three blazes in a triangle pattern. From here hook up with the blue trail. The blue trail meanders through forest and stream. It is pleasant but if it is views you’re after you won’t find them here.

Eventually you’ll come to a trail junction – yellow and red. Take the red trail to your left. On this section there will be small stream crossings with loose rocks. Do watch your footing. In dryer weather, you may not encounter them. You’ll eventually come to a fork on the trail. Red to the ruins, back to blue to return to the lot. You didn’t come this far to skip the estate, did you?

Continue on the red trail and explore. Enjoy. Walking passed the ruins you can hook back up with the blue trail back to the parking lot. The connector trail is marked by duplicated red and blue blazes. Keep in mind, this loop is only a small portion of the park.

Want to see the ruins without the hassle? At your first trail junction take the Cornish Trail to your left as opposed to the Washburn. When you’ve had your fill go back the way you came. This avoids any steep rocky sections and cuts the trip down to an estimated 1.5miles.

Prior to the hike we stopped at Black Cow for happy coffee and some zucchini bread.

See you on the trails,