Where: Calverton Pine Barrens State Forest (Calverton, NY)
What: Hike (trail, unpaved) Mountain biking is allowed. These are designated bike trails.
Snacks: Taco Bout It (Riverhead, NY)
Just a few housekeeping notes before we begin:
1. A permit is required to use these trails. Land access use permits are offered through the NYS DEC.
2. This trail is designed as a single track for mountain biking. While I’ve never seen another soul on these trails, be prepared to move to the side.
3. While the trail is well marked with yellow placards be prepared to feel lost. The trail snakes around with more switchbacks than a steep mountain summit. There are various offshoots labeled with black diamonds.
4. January use is restricted due to deer hunting season.
Now that you’re up to speed let’s go!
This one is hard to find. In your GPS put the Wading River Motel. The trail head and parking lot are just east of the motel in the shadow of its sign. Blink, and you’ll miss it. Typically the lot is empty but every so often it is packed. My guess is local cycling and running clubs meet up and use the lot.
Follow the yellow trail blazes as they weave through the park. They’re few and far between but intersections are limited. The main loop is roughly eight and a half miles. There are off shoots designated by black diamond blazes – more difficult mountain biking areas that add an extra mile and a half. They have names like fox hollow and enchanted forest. According to the DEC website (https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/111929.html) these trails are maintained by a cycling group called CLIMB (Concerned Long Island Mountain Bicyclists) and they do an amazing job! Seriously, major props to them – these trails were impeccable.
Some of the yellow markers are on downed trees. My rule of thumb for this trail is to follow the serpentine. There are few straight sections. To wit, even if you have an internal compass, you might feel a little lost in here.
After mile three, you can see some of the Calverton National Cemetery. After mile six, a residential area will appear to your right.
The pines are gorgeous and foreboding. The trail is incredibly free from debris. While it feels like you’re weaving through a labyrinth keep going, the trail is clear and easy to follow. If you feel lost don’t panic, as long as the yellow blazes are in front of you, you’ll find your way out.
After hike treats included sharing horchatas and churros at Taco Bout It in Riverhead. It is so cute here. Coming back to this spot brought back memories. Connected to Taco Bout It (I don’t think it was Taco Bout It back then) used to be a coffee shop called Eastenders (now Haiku Sushi). Met one of my first boyfriends there after liking his music on MySpace. I’m not usually nostalgic but, I’m not usually in Riverhead either.
See you on the trails,
PS: It is worth repeating that you’ll make it out of the forest. Just follow the signs.