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: Manorville Hills County Park

Where: Manorville Hills County Park (Manorville, NY)

What: Hike (trail, unpaved)

Snacks: Eastport Luncheonette (Eastport, NY)

Manorville Hills may look daunting but don’t let the long dirt driveway fool you. Nestled on the northbound side of rt. 111 between Sunrise and the LIE (the Manorville one not the Smithtown one) is a picturesque walk in the woods.

Despite its easy access location, this park is by no means popular. For large chunks grass grows on the trail. Be gentle to it. Absolutely check for ticks. But come and you’ll be engulfed by nature. The park is broken into three sections: an 8 mile pedestrian loop, a 12 mile mountain bike path (blue) and a 6 mile horse trail (yellow). Horses have the right of way at trail intersections. There is also access to the Paumanok Path – an LI thru hike from stretching from Rocky Point to Montauk. The pedestrian trail is marked with white blazes and from what I’ve seen the only way out is through. Paumanok is also marked with white blazes but worded signs point you towards Paumanok.

Turn around if you can’t commit to the loop. The loop is riddled with fences in an attempt to curb horses and cyclists from using the pedestrian trail. You may have trouble navigating these areas if you are a person of size or use mobility aids. Trail is hillier than other local parks but it isn’t daunting. Since the trails are quiet, it is one of my favorite places to get fully immersed in nature.

Sometimes, quiet trails feel eerie but at Manorville Hills, the trail blazes are bright and the parking lot is always clear of debris. You get the sense that not only was someone here before you but that they also cared for the space.

Since this writing, prior to publishing there was a fire at the park. The July 7th fire is a reminder to exercise caution and to understand how fragile outdoor spaces can be. I found no news reports of closures to the park after the fire. The brush fire covered 15 acres, according to 27east – a local news outlet. County rt. 111 was closed for a time and there were no evacuations of residents necessary.

Manorville Hills pairs perfectly with nostalgia. I grew up going to the Eastport Luncheonette. Enjoy a no frills breakfast / lunch / coffee with a side of small town charm. Eastport used to be home of the antique shops, now Main Street is mostly empty stores with a stained glass shop and a boutique or two.

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.

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

HikeLI: Calverton Pine Barrens State Forest

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,

x

Jess

PS: It is worth repeating that you’ll make it out of the forest. Just follow the signs.