HikeLI: Cedar Point Park

Where: Cedar Point County Park (East Hampton, NY)

What: Hike (trail, sand, unpaved)

Snacks: Grindstone Coffee & Donuts (Sag Harbor, NY)

Hello friends! Welcome. Fancy a drive out east? Farther east than we’ve ever been together? Yes! Thanks for coming.

We’re going to Cedar Creek County Park in East Hampton (5 Cedar Point Road) to see the abandoned lighthouse. The trip, from the paved lot is between 5 and 6 miles. Two of which are on the beach so prepare for sand. For reference, my GPS said 5.7, my friend’s said 5.9 and All Trails clocks it at 5.3. If you drive deeper into the park, there is a beach lot, which will cut your trip down to roughly two sandy miles. If you go this route, you’ll miss a lot of beauty. Follow the yellow blazes to get to your destination. Please note, the trail is not marked on the beach.

The trail begins in the woods and meanders on rolling hills until you reach sandy bluffs. Unlike many county parks the trail head is marked with an awning. Nice and easy. The bluffs are closed due to erosion but you can still see the beauty of Gardiners Bay. There is a path around bluffs.

You’ll come to a sandy parking lot, head toward the water and to the left. You’ll be able to see the lighthouse in the distance. It feels as far away as it looks. Once you get to the lighthouse, if you walk onto the balcony, be careful- it’s slippery. You cannot go inside the structure.

To get back to your car, head the way you came. It can get a little confusing to find the trail after the beach.

After the park we head into Sag Harbor for Grindstone Coffee & Donuts. Oddly enough, no coffee and donuts for this girl just a super cinnamon infused hot apple cider. It really hit the spot after a chilly winter hike.

See you on the trails,

x

Jessa

HikeLI: Udall’s Cove Park Preserve

Where: Udall’s Cove Park Preserve (Little Neck, NY)

What: Hike (trail, unpaved)

Snacks: Bean & Bean (Little Neck, NY)

Udall’s Cove Park Preserve is located in Queens at the end of 34th Avenue in Little Neck. It’s kinda sorta off of Northern Boulevard (the Queens name for 25A) and I kinda sorta have no idea how to find it without GPS. You see, I found Udall’s Cove purely by accident after a cooking class in Manhasset. Do you do that? Just drive around when you’re in an unfamiliar area? No? Only me?

Udall’s Cove has space for about four cars at the trail head but don’t be surprised if all of those spots are taken by people that live in the neighborhood. It seems more like a cul-de-sac than an official parking lot anyway. Parking comes at premium ’round these parts. Street parking is allowed.

This place reminds me of a city version of a lover’s lane – right before the unnamed character gets murdered. It is eerily quiet for the City – marshy and mucky. If I were a little kid this is definitely a place where I would stand in the mud and pretend that it was quicksand. But, it is obvious that people don’t use this space to experience nature. Watch for debris – beer cans, and unfortunately needles.

The park is accompanied by Native American lore. Giants at war shaped the coastlines of the Long Island Sound by hurling boulders. But the space isn’t respected as an avenue to learn history. It is unfortunate.

Head to Bean & Bean on Northern Boulevard for delicious coffee, tasty treats and warm but industrial atmosphere.

See you on the trails,

x

Jessa

HikeLI: Sans Souci County Park

Where: Sans Souci County Park (Sayville, NY)

What: Hiking (trail, unpaved)

Snacks: Little Nook Café (West Sayville, NY)

Take Sunrise Highway to exit 51 and go south on Broadway Avenue. Wave to the almost defunct Sun Vet Mall. The park entrance will be on your left about a quarter mile south of the Target. It is a nice Target; in case you were wondering.

This is definitely a head up focus on where you’re going kind of park. The trails are well marked but there are a lot of intersections – most of which aren’t listed as official park trails. Some go into residential neighborhoods, one can kind of take you to a train station or into the Girl Scout camp and more still to parts unknown. I love a good mystery, don’t you? Maybe not while I’m alone in the woods. Speaking of mystery, there were a few missing pet posters on the white trail. It creates an eerie feeling.

Sans Souci is French for ‘without worry,’ which is a nice well wish for walking around a park with mystery trails. Officially, the park is comprised of a yellow connecting trail, a 1 or so mile white trail and a 2 mile orange trail. I spent about two hours in the park using the marked trails and testing a few of the unmarked pathways – particularly around the lake.

The orange trail parallels a Girl Scout camp, which makes it very clear that trespassing is not allowed. The grounds beg to be explored but, I’m not telling you to trespass. For a time, the orange trail hugs a lake with an unmarked trail that loops partially around. You get better lake water views from the unmarked trail, but watch your footing as it gets very narrow near the edge of the water.

The white trail, while the shorter of the two is hillier and has some boardwalks over water. You can’t hear busy Broadway Avenue. Sometimes, it is nice to pretend that you aren’t on Long Island.

Lots of folks bring dogs here, they usually mill around by the parking lot and many are off leash. If off leash dogs bother you, I would skip this one. Deeper into the trails, I didn’t pass anyone despite a full parking lot. Otherwise, it is a great little walk with some serene features.

There is no better way to describe the Little Nook Café other than eclectic. Hours listed on the door say 10-3ish don’t let that deter you, just try the door (I think 3ish refers to AM based on their social media but I’ve never asked). They have evening activities like open mic and game nights. You can get anything from vegan pizza (or Nutella marshmallow dessert pizza) to espresso concoctions to so so many sweet treats.

See you on the trails!

x

Jessa

BikeLI: Cupsogue Beach County Park

Where: Cupsogue Beach County Park (Westhampton, NY)

What: Bike (Road)

Snacks: Hampton Coffee (Westhampton Beach, NY)

Cupsogue Beach County Park sits at the western most end of Dune Road. Dune Road is a destination in of itself if you want to take a slow ride along the coast and see some enormous homes. If I’m being frank, I don’t know if there are any full time residents; it’s so quiet this time of year.

Dune Road is a roughly 14 mile stretch of road connecting Westhampton Dunes to Hampton Bays. It is flat, well maintained and idyllic. The road, however is prone to floods as evidence by the pools of water and homes on stilts. The speed limit is very strict.

The Hampton Bays side boasts restaurants and night life hot spots – some of which have been open since I was in high school. They might be passé at this point but, I wouldn’t know. Beaches, both public and private dot Dune road. The Westhampton side boasts the most popular beach of all – Cupsogue. Parking fee applies during the on season.

For me, the beach isn’t the big draw. It’s a great beach, don’t get me wrong but it’s a hot spot on season and a brooding patch of sand in the off season. It’s always dreary in the winter. I recall being in college and trying to get onto the beach at night, thwarted, always by local police. The draw for me is Dune road itself and the promise of quiet cycling in early winter.

I bike from the Westhampton side to the Hampton Bays side and always manage to catch a head wind on the way back. It’s daunting, but worth it. I do wish Surf Shack had winter hours, but that’s neither here nor there. A beer rounding out mile 24 or so sounds stellar.

After a wonderful, brisk ride I headed to Hampton Coffee Company for a cappuccino. The foam is the best part.

Make sure to rinse the sand from your bike.

See you on the trails,

x

Jessa

HikeLI: Caumsett State Park

Where: Caumsett State Park (Lloyd Harbor, NY)

What: Hike (trail, various)

Snacks: Southdown Coffee (Huntington, NY)

Wind through idyllic Lloyd Harbor all of the way to Caumsett State Park. Don’t quote me on this but, it seems very one way in, one way out, no rabble allowed. It was an estate, after all. Close your mouth. I did the same, had that someone-lived-here-once feeling of the grounds and the estate houses and the still active horse stables.

There is a parking fee ($8 as of this writing). Collection varies based on season and is sometimes limited to weekends. Unlike other state parks, I haven’t managed to go to this one without paying the parking fee. Take friends, it’s worth it.

When I come, I like to walk the perimeter – watch for cyclists and then head to the beach. I get in roughly four miles. The paved trail gives way to a sandy maze. There is ample signage to get you safely to the beach and back. No swimming allowed or rather, swim at your own risk. No swimming allowed.

I haven’t gone at a time when the estate houses are open for public viewing but I have looked in the windows. If they’re open, I suggest adding them to your walk.

I paired this with a trip to Southdown Coffee in Huntington. Parking is always a pain. Enjoy!

See you on the trails,

X

Jessa

HikeBeyondLI: Shenandoah National Park

Where: Shenandoah National Park (Skyline Drive, VA)

What: Hiking (trail, unpaved – wet)

Snacks: Before & After (Sperryville, VA)

I’m a little nostalgic for summer. I’m also angling to go back to Shenandoah – please Government shutdown don’t last long (ongoing as of this writing 🥺)

Skyline Drive is a vast expanse of road in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The 105 mile road is popular for its sweeping views. It is home to Shenandoah National Park. Enter the park from any four entrance points and pay the parking fee – $30 for the week at the time of this writing. Entrances from North to South are Front Royal, Thorton Gap, Swift Run Gap and Rockfish Gap. Directions to each entrance can be found on the corresponding National Park Service website. Cell service is spotty at best.

We chose our starting point based on the hikes we were interested in. We entered the park at Thorton Gap and headed south. I was in the mood for waterfalls and waterfalls I got – Oak Canyon, Rose River and Dark Hollow. Plus the added bonus of Hawksbill Summit – the highest peak in the park. It’s doubtful that I saw more than 10% of the park. There were stretches of Skyline Drive that we didn’t touch. Don’t be sad for me, it just means I have to go back.

In true National Park fashion, there is emphasis on horse trails. Why, I don’t know. Be wary, the closer a parking lot is to a viewpoint the more crowded it will be, further there will be more bad behavior. Dark Hollow falls was a crowded nightmare, people sobbing with blisters in inappropriate footwear, people climbing in and on the falls, garbage. The falls were about a mile from the lot but the terrain still required appropriate footwear.

On the flip side, the Rose River loop was mostly empty and very wet. But, it was perfect. We meandered, we scrambled, we took in the sites and just enjoyed.

Next it was time to tackle the tallest peak in the park. With a hike hovering around two miles, the trails were packed. Nice meandering climb to the summit with no technical factors. There was a guy at the summit trying to take the perfect social media photo – walking on his hands. Crowded summit but still felt serene.

Our goal was to leave for day after Hawksbill but we still had plenty of snacks and water. The parking lot for Oak Canyon caught our eye. Arguably the most difficult hike of the day, rocky but with little technical factors. Wet trail in some places. So many people passed us asking if the parking lot was far – it was about five miles round trip so that lot was never all that far. But, at the end of our hike, I felt what those people were asking. Fifteen miles for the day, in the early August sun will do that to a person. Goodness was this waterfall incredible. Incredible, and by far the tallest I’ve ever seen in person.

Feed the hike team! We went into Sperryville to Before & After Café for some hard earned croissant egg sandwiches and the best cappuccino I’ve had outside of Italy. The best coffee is in rural Virginia, folks.

See you on the trails,

x

Jessa

HikeLI: Smith Point County Park

Where: Smith Point County Park (Shirley, NY)

What: Walk (sand, unpaved)

Snacks: Jimmy’s Diner (Mastic, NY)

I know what you’re thinking. She went to the beach, big deal. But dear reader, I didn’t go to the beach for the sake of going to the beach. I go to the beach during off season to get a solid walk in. Really works legs. You won’t find me on the beach in the summer, I burn badly unless you dunk me in SPF. But, only certain kinds or I break out. (I’m fun at parties). Sun hats, please and thank you. Sun hats forever, sun hats for always – the wider the brim the better.

Anyway, take William Floyd Parkway all of the way south. The Parkway practically ends at the gigantic beach parking lot. Full disclosure, in the on season this beach is as disgusting as it is crowded. Patrons leave garbage everywhere and people smoke wherever they please. It takes away from what I feel is the point of going to the beach – serenity.

There is far less of that on chilly, late fall mornings. I still find some garbage to pick up – like old mylar balloons and water bottles. How hard is it for people to take their garbage? Why balloons? Now I just sound contrary.

Live music on summer nights. Empty air in the fall. Watch for Jeeps and other vehicle traffic on the sand. Permits allow people to ride right on. Stay off the dunes.

Before a beach walk, breakfast is always a good idea. Enter Jimmy’s Diner. I would describe it as a hole in the wall but it is a very visible, small freestanding building. It can hold maybe twenty people at a time. The cutest little no frills breakfast spot that you ever did see. Coffee is always fresh, home fries are always perfect. Be prepared for a wait.

See you on the trails,

x

Jessa