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 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,



HikeLI: Rocky Point State Preserve

Where: Rocky Point State Preserve (Ridge, NY)

What: Hike (trail, unpaved)

Snacks: NoFoDoCo (Mattituck, NY)

There are several entrances to the Rocky Point trails. Today, we’ll park at the Whiskey Road / Wading River Hollow Road entrance. This entrance is hiking access, not mountain biking access. For mountain biking use the entrance on Rocky Point Road or the entrance where 25A splits to bypass the business district in Rocky Point. DEC permit may be required to park at some entrances. I’ve never seen this enforced. There is no fee to park. Additional parking areas dot 25A. Please visit for a detailed map.

For hiking the park has three trails. The yellow (2 miles), blue (4.1 miles) and the red (4.9 miles). These can also be cobbled together to form an 8.5 mile loop. For today, we’re focusing on the red trail, which is my favorite it is also a point to point trail. If you choose to make it an out and back understand that it will be nearly ten miles.

Using the parking area on Whiskey Road, enter the trail. There are usually port-a-potties here. The trail is beautifully marked with red circle blazes. Where this trail crosses a mountain bike trail it is marked with neon ties on the surrounding trees. Bikes yield to pedestrians but, look both ways before you cross. The trail is flat save for a large hill at about midway. Near mile 4.25 you’ll have to cross Rocky Point Road to continue the trail to the end. This will put you in one of the parking areas on 25A. This trail is beautifully kept, and serene. Despite proximity to large road ways, it is rare to hear the road noise.

Hunting access is not allowed along the trail but may be allowed within the preserve.

After a lovely morning stroll I went out east to check out a much talked about donut shop. This time of year you’ll have to brave the farm stand, pumpkin picking, vineyard traffic but it was a nice drive to top off an enjoyable morning.

See you on the trails,



DIY Urban Hike

Where: Williamsburg to Midtown (Bklyn to Mnhttn, NY)

What: Sidewalks!

Snacks: Various!

Something that I like, more than I’m willing to admit to are long aimless walks across multiple boroughs of NYC. This is especially nice when the weather is crisp and cool. In the summer, Manhattan feels oppressive akin to being trapped in an air vent while strangers breathe and sweat on you. Did you feel that visual? Do you feel gross now? Welcome to my mind.

Today’s jaunt takes us about 4.5 miles on city sidewalks, through various neighborhoods and over my favorite of the walkable bridges connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan.

There are three bridges connecting Brooklyn to Manhattan that offer walkability. The Brooklyn, the Manhattan and the Williamsburg. The Brooklyn is the most popular and if you’ve ever walked over it you wonder how any gets those empty bridge photos.

What I like about the Williamsburg is that it separates pedestrians and cyclists. It’s also a unique sensory experience because you’re walking above cars and the subway.

Our trip starts on the LIRR where we get off at Woodside, pop into Blue Cup Coffee for a quick warm drink. Take the 7 to the G and walk to Wythe Avenue. From Wythe follow the signs for the Williamsburg bridge and enter via the pedestrian access point.

Marvel at the street art and the skyline views. The only shame are the red safety gates. I obviously understand their purpose but for a brief moment I sympathize with folks who vote down windmill farms for their own property views. I snap out of it.

Once over the bridge we head over to Urban Backyard for a refreshing yuzu lemonade and continue our trek north to Penn. From the bridge make a left onto Clinton followed by a right onto Delaney. Delaney becomes Kenmare. Make a left onto Mulberry to reach this snack destination.

From Mulberry go to Bleeker and make a left onto sixth avenue. Moving up sixth avenue we make a pit stop at Grace Street (32nd b/t 5th and 6th) for towers of shaved ice and Vietnamese coffee. Head to Penn or keep exploring the city!

See you on the trails (sidewalks!)



HikeLI: Valley Stream State Park

Where: Valley Stream State Park (Valley Stream, NY)

What: Bike (paved, asphalt)

Snacks: Sip This (Valley Stream, NY)

Valley Stream State Park is exit 15A off the Southern State Parkway, eastbound only. The 97 acre park is in a highly populated residential area on Long Island’s south shore. Much like most of South Western Nassau County it is a little crowded and a little dusty.

There is a small section of nature trail. By my very scientific meandering estimates, it’s about 3/4 of a mile. The whole thing is overgrown so watch for poison ivy and check yourself for ticks.

The paved portion is a 2.7 mile loop. It’s cute for a few passes. If slowing down for pedestrians and watching for people isn’t your thing skip this one. You’ll find people just hanging around on the loop standing and chatting or playing phone games. Apparently the park is great for Pokémon catching. I cannot independently confirm this.

Maybe I’m bias but Valley Stream State Park is better served as a family picnic spot than an outdoor adventure spot. I say this because we used to have our family reunions here. No picnic today and no family reunion since 1994 but I did head to Sip This for a dirty chai and a good book.

See you on the trails,



HikeLI: Sweetbriar Nature Center

Where: Sweetbriar Nature Center (Smithtown, NY)

What: Hike (trail, unpaved)

Snacks: Various

I like owls and other birds of prey.

Sweetbriar is a 54 acre nature preserve and animal rehabilitation center. Located on Eckernkamp drive it has a sizeable parking area and is within walking distance of the Smithtown LIRR. The grounds have beautiful gardens, a farm and a butterfly house (small fee). There is no fee to visit aside from the butterfly house.

On Sunday, I attended a fundraiser there. Not only did I get to support a place that I adore, I got to roam the trails and get up close and personal to some handsome feathered friends.

The Long Island Greenbelt (white blazes) skirts the property as does the Nissaquogue River. Trails contained by the property are marked with red, yellow and blue blazes. I estimate that the trail network is about a mile and a half to two miles making it a great introductory hiking location.

The fundraiser included food trucks so snacks were empanadas from Island Empanadas and various tastings from local breweries.

See you on the trails