Quogue Wildlife Refuge

Where: Quogue Wildlife Refuge (Quogue, NY)

What: Hike (trail, unpaved with sections of boardwalk)

Snacks: Beach Bakery (Westhampton Beach)

This is the worst entry I’ve ever written. Truth is, I love Quogue Wildlife Refuge and have been to dozens of events – night light shows, moon walks, fancy balls but I can’t think of anything to say without talking about those experiences.

Quogue Wildlife Refuge is nestled in the Pine Barrens.

For more information about Quogue Wildlife Refuge please visit their website. They host a ton of great events all year long.

Saturday, I got eaten alive by mosquitos despite wearing bug spray. It made me question my decision to attend their ball this year. I’m one of those lucky folks whose bites welt up and look like golf ball halves wedges under the skin. Needless to say, I couldn’t finish my walk.

The trails at the refuge are nice. Quiet when you aren’t worried about being eaten alive. Honestly, I don’t have a lot to say about this place. Go see the turtles.

Then go get cookies at Beach Bakery. Once I went there on a Monday night and the woman behind the counter just kept staring at me. When I tried to place my order she just sat down at one of the customer tables. On break? Maybe. Rouge customer? Probably not, she was wearing a Beach Bakery polo. There was only one other worker there but she was helping a couple with a big order. I never did get treats that day.

See you on the trails,

x

Jess

HikeLI: Shadmoor State Park

Where: Shadmoor State Park (Montauk, NY)

What: Hike (trail, unpaved)

Snacks: Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee (Amagasett, NY)

I just want to put it out there that Jack’s said they didn’t have a public restroom. There are however public restrooms across the street in a municipal lot. Cleanliness at 8am was good. I’d gotten a honey cinnamon latte, which was an unexpectedly delicious combination. Would have been better without the weird bathroom side quest.

Jack’s happens to be across the street from The Stephen Talkhouse. I don’t want to talk nostalgia or misspent youth, but man …

There are a bunch of State parks in Montauk – Camp Hero, Hither Hills, Montauk Downs, Montauk Point. You know Montauk Point, it’s got that Lighthouse. So why Shadmoor? (Shadmoor is about five miles west of the Lighthouse on the right hand side of Montauk Highway. Parking lot holds about ten cars.) I like bluffs and it is a bit calmer than the other parks.

The loop is a short, sweet 1.2 miles. You can extend this to about 2.5 if you stay along the bluffs and take that path to the end (turn around when you reach the driveway). Trail is clearly marked with red arrows. The trail is narrow and you’ll have to walk over planks in a few areas. There is something magical about Shadmoor, between the sunshine soaked bluffs and the enclosed shaded areas that allow you to feel deep in a forest it is ecotone at its finest.

Stopped at Hither Hills on the way home but made a rookie mistake. We stepped off trail to allow some cyclists to pass. I found two ticks on myself and am now paranoid about more lurking. As of this writing I’ve checked myself seventeen times. The fear still persists.

So check for ticks, watch for cyclists and pee before you leave the house.

See you on the trails,

x

Jess

Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park

Where: Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park (Great River, NY)

What: Walk (trail, paved, gravel)

Snacks: Hidden Oak Cafe (Great River, NY)

What a day, friends! There was sunshine. There was one of my best friends. There was high tea. I bought dahlias and lavender to plant. I met Pete, the best tour guide – ever.

The arboretum is very popular. Even more so when you stumble upon a plant sale day. Normally, I’m not a crowds kinda gal but, I got a lesson in dahlia care, growth and storage. Now I have new friends at the Dahlia Society of Long Island.

Find this magical place at 440 Montauk Highway – Great River or Oakdale depending on your GPS. They’ve got a large parking lot. As of this writing there is an $8 parking fee. They’re open Tuesday-Sunday from 10-5pm with narrower hours in the winter.

This isn’t a hiking trail per say, more like a gentle stroll. Choose between the Riverwalk or the gardens. We did both! The riverwalk on our own and an hour long tour of the gardens with tour guide Pete. Pete was as knowledgeable as he was funny. Now I know that when I have a big back yard I want a European Weeping Beech, a blue conifer and a whole slew of other stuff. Despite the gravel areas on the tour, it felt accessible. I say this because someone on the tour had a walker and could navigate.

We then had high tea at the Hidden Oak Cafe. Treats on treats on treats. Scones, sandwiches, cakes, cookies. I’m so full.

Okay friends, I’ve got dahlias to plant.

See you on the trails,

x

Jess

HikeLI: Connequot River State Park

Where: Connequot River State Park (Oakdale, NY) (3525 Sunrise Hwy.)

What: Hike (trail, unpaved)

Snacks: Desserts on the Spot (usually between Wireless and Belle Meade on the south side of route 347 in a big dirt patch)

Picture this, it is 7:30am and you pull up to the park gate. A surely gate attendant tells you that she only lets permit carrying fishermen in before 8am. Cool cool cool. Your friend says that it is your first time at the park. The surely attendant asks you to pay the parking fee ($8 as of this writing) and hands you a map and a history pamphlet. She tells you that the gates lock promptly at 4pm.

It truly was our first time at Connequot; precisely because it keeps a strict 8-4 schedule. Brookhaven State Park does the same. It seems to be a rarity since I haven’t experienced it elsewhere. What happens if you get locked in the park after hours? Chaos?

Connequot River State Park is located in the westbound side of Sunrise Highway just before exit 46. If you miss it, you’ll have to loop back around. There’s an entrance on Veterans Highway but no official parking area. That entrance is gated too – and helps connect Connequot to Lakeland County Park via the Long Island Greenbelt (white blazes).

There are four marked trails to choose from excluding the Greenbelt. Red (3.7), blue (8.4) yellow (1.1) or green (3.9). Once you park the trails begin at the pond by the historic houses. Yellow and green are to the left and red and blue are to the right. Green crosses yellow, yellow connects to red, red runs along blue for a time. Confused? We couldn’t get through the park without a map from the app Avenza.

For this adventure we took the green to the yellow and did the red loop. Red was by far the prettiest. It was decently marked but not from the direction we took it (counterclockwise). Every so often we would hunt for blazes. This usually involved just turning around at the various intersections.

Now, the snack spot isn’t anywhere near the park. My original snack spot for this place was called the Golden Sparrow in Bayport but, it closed about a year ago. I miss it. Nostalgia aside, today was a task for Desserts on the Spot – a super delicious food truck with the best desserts. The only problem is, that it hangs out on the north shore. But, it’s a big pink truck and I (if you haven’t guessed by now) have a wicked sweet tooth. Today’s yummy is a chocolate danish pretzel hybrid.

See you on the trails,

x

Jess

PS: No dogs allowed, no cycling allowed etc. Only permit fishing and walking/ running.

Heritage Park

Where: Heritage Park (Mt. Sinai, NY)

What: Walk (trail, paved)

Snacks: Crazy Crepe (Miller Place, NY)

Heritage Park has everything that I love: sizeable parking lot, public restrooms, a real address and hills that you can roll down.

I haven’t been very active lately so this is the perfect get-back-out- there location. There are a few paved trails, the longest of which being less than a mile. They don’t allow pets. There are plenty of benches and the trail is paved, wide and free of debris making the park accessible. There are also restrooms at both ends of the park.

It hugs two major roads, so don’t expect a quiet jaunt. There are also fields, a playground, an event pavilion and a mini putting green. No word on whether or not you need your own golf clubs.

For snacks we head to Crazy Crepe for coffee and dessert crepes.

See you on the trails,

x

Jess

The East River Greenway

Where: The East River Greenway (Manhattan, NY)

What: Walk (paved)

Snacks: Bibble & Sip (Midtown West)

I went to Manhattan today. It was to cheer on a friend at the NYC Half Marathon, which, didn’t leave much room for exploring somewhere new. I did however have a super fun time tracking her run, and running around the City trying to catch her at various points on the course. Pretty sure that I was only successful once; if at all.

So, if you were in Manhattan for the NYC Half today and you saw a wind blown lady with a mini floral backpack running along portions of the half marathon route, it was probably me. Or ditto if you saw the same girl standing on benches trying to see the runners. I ran the Greenway from 14th (when the route took the runners on the FDR) and in short portions when the route turned onto 42nd.

Once the run hit Times Square, I took a detour to 8th and 51st to grab coffee from Bibble & Sip. They like llamas, and I like them. Also, cream puffs the size of your face. Also, my friend needed a finish line latte. Look at me, justifying snacks.

Let’s talk Greenway, shall we? (Thank you to everyone who let me pet their dog. Double thanks to the couple who tried to help me find a better view).

The Greenway stretches from Battery Park up to 125th Street with a gap between 34th and 60th to accommodate for increased midtown traffic with views of the East River. The entire thing is roughly 9.5 miles. You can navigate the gap just fine but keep your eyes open and your head up. At 103rd you can take a bridge over to Randall’s Island.

The Greenway is the most serene part of Manhattan. People fish, you can pick up a ferry. You can watch the trams to Roosevelt Island. If you get a chance to, take the tram. There is also an abandoned smallpox hospital on that Island. Also neat.

That’s all this week, friends. Take the Greenway, take the tram and support your friends.

See you on the trails,

x

Jess

HikeLI: Edgewood Oak Brush Plains Preserve

Where: Edgewood Oak Brush Plains Preserve (Deer Park, NY)

What: Hike (trail, paved, unpaved)

Snacks: Jack Jack’s Coffee House (Babylon, NY)

From the LIE head south on Commack Road and Edgewood will appear on your right as a flat open air space at the edge of a residential neighborhood. If you reach Tanger Outlets, you’ve gone too far. Parking coordinates are available on the NYS DEC website.

Edgewood is an unassuming 800+ acre preserve managed by NYS DEC. The website states a permit is required as with other DEC properties. I assume most people go without a permit considering how visible the parking lot is from the main road. There are nearly 25 miles of paved and unpaved trails within the park.

Trails within the park are deemed accessible with ease of access for motorized wheel chairs.

A designated blue hiking trail is 2.7 miles. Bike trails are managed by C.L.I.M.B and range from beginner to advance as designated by white, yellow and red trail markers. Hiking is allowed on the bike trails but, be mindful of cyclist. Watch for model airplanes – the park is home to the Edgewood Flyers, a model airplane club that uses the park.

Edgewood has a lot to offer but isn’t particularly beautiful. Wherever you go in the preserve is a comfortably wide trail. I find it better suited for cycling than walking. It is flat. It is very dog friendly. While the cycling trails are well marked the remainder criss cross and can leave one a bit disoriented.

The grounds used to be an asylum and they currently sit next to Pilgrim Psychiatric. Some of Pilgrim’s buildings are abandoned and accessible through the woods which, lends a creepy vibe to Edgewood.

I find the history of the property better than the hike itself.

For snacks I headed to Jack Jack’s Coffee House in Babylon. Don’t let the exterior fool you. Inside is a world of fancy lattes, weekend brunch and pastries (including vegan treats). Also dog friendly!

See you on the trails,

x

Jess