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.

x

Jess

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,

x

Jess

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 dec.ny.gov 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,

x

Jess

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!)

x

Jess

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,

x

Jess

*As of June 26, 2020 this location is closed.

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

x

Jess

HikeLI: Belmont Lake State Park

Where: Belmont Lake State Park (North Babylon, NY)

What: Hike (trail, various), Peddle Boats (water)

Snacks: Babylon Bean North (North Babylon, NY)

Belmont Lake State Park has its own exit off the Southern State Parkway. This makes it simple to get to and difficult to drive by without noticing. There is a parking fee on season ($8 as of this writing). The parking lot is enormous. Belmont Lake State Park allows biking, has trail areas for horses and pedal boats (additional fee) for its namesake lake.

The Belmont Park lake loop is a well defined path that is about 1.3 miles and mostly paved. It is flat and wide enough to accommodate for multi-use. An underpass for the Southern State Parkway spokes from the loop and can lead you to Southards Pond Park snaking along the Carlls River. The underpass isn’t high so if you’re tall, you might need to duck. There are far more trails in and around the park but they don’t form neat loops like the aforementioned. These are still worth exploring.

The park has playgrounds, a picnic area and an outdoor games area. An ice cream truck showed up while I was there. The park has such a family friendly vibe.

See you on the trails,

x

Jess

McAllister County Park

Where: McAllister County Park (Belle Terre, NY)

What: Turning around and going home for the dozenth time.

Snacks: Ruvo (Port Jefferson, NY)

There’s something you need to understand about Belle Terre to understand this post. According to the 2018 census, Belle Terre had 787 residents. A 2015 Newsday blurb lists 13 code enforcement officers. That’s one officer for roughly every 60 residents; very similar to an NYC classroom.

The 100 or so acres that comprise McAllister County Park were donated to Suffolk County in the 1970s. There are five parking spots if everyone in them parks perfectly. There is no parking on Belle Terre streets including those that comprise the mouth of the County Park. This is so strictly enforced that an officer hangs out the park, watching and waiting…desperate to write you a ticket if you dare to park. There appears to be space to expand the lot.

I’ve never seen an open space at the park. It doesn’t matter what time, what day, what season – I’ve never seen an open spot. But always an officer.

It is clear that Belle Terre doesn’t want you there. The County should give the land back to the donating family or sell it to Belle Terre so they can keep their exclusivity.

Enjoy the photos that I took turning around…again…

Got a fancy cappuccino from Ruvo and it made the day much better.

See you on the trails (just not this one).

x

Jess

HikeLI: Kings Point Park

Where: Kings Point Park (Kings Point, NY)

What: Hike (trail, unpaved)

Snacks: For Five Roasters (Manhasset, NY)

Kings Point Park is located on Redbrook Road in Kings Point, (additional entrance on Steamboat road) smack dab in the middle of a residential area off of Middle Neck Road. The 175 acre park has roughly five miles of trail, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, soccer fields and more. The park is dog friendly in some sections provided dogs are leashes. There are ample places to picnic.

For this trip, I took the 1.8 mile loop as recommended by All Trails. The loop criss crosses over Mitchell Creek with a series of wooden bridges. Mitchell Creek was dry today and I’m glad for it, I wasn’t in the mood for mosquitos. A portion of the trail hugs various backyards and for a moment there I thought about inviting myself into a stranger’s pool.

Despite the hustle and bustle of the neighborhood it is serene here. Such a cute place for a quick walk or a trail run.

For snacks we went into Manhasset for a quick flat white from For Five Roasters.

See you on the trail,

x

Jess

HikeLI: Planting Fields Arboretum State Park

Where: Planting Fields Arboretum State Park (Oyster Bay, NY)

What: Hike / Walk (trail, gravel, unpaved)

Snacks: Southdown (Oyster Bay, NY)

Planting Fields has gorgeous gardens, welcoming greenhouses, an estate to explore and a small trail network.

Formerly the Coe Estate, Planting Fields sits on 400+ acres, one of the only Gold Coast estates to remain on its full acreage with all of its buildings. Buildings include laundry carriage and tea houses. Mansion tours available during warmer months. As of this writing an $8.00 parking fee applied. The tour is a separate fee from the parking fee.

Among the gardens, are roses, rhododendrons, conifers, hydrangeas and dahlias. Greenhouses include tropical plants and seasonal displays. A newer addition to the arboretum is the 2015 sensory garden.

Trails range from a tenth of a mile to a quarter of a mile and intersect to make for a nice stroll through the trees.

Head to Southdown Coffee for a no frills cup.

See you on the trails (or among the dahlias)

x

Jess