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: 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: 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

Greenwood Cemetery

Where: Greenwood Cemetery (Brooklyn)

What: Walk (road, unpaved path)

Snacks: King’s County Distillery (Brooklyn)

Bakeri (Brooklyn)

Today was a day of urban exploration. Did you know that Greenwood Cemetery was one of the first green spaces in NYC and one of the top three tourist attractions of the 1860s? Rounding out that list are Niagara Falls and Mt. Vernon. The cemetery is also an arboretum boasting thousands of trees. A popular website feature is an interactive tree map. I dub Greenwood Cemetery a great place for an outdoor excursion, if a touch macabre.

Today didn’t involve your traditional hike. Instead it was a cemetery tour – both with a guide and later self guided. The guided portion was for the Cemetery’s Dead Distiller’s tour. Part trolly, part walking tour I got to learn all about distilling in NY in the late 1800s.

Casual side note, I love a pretty mausoleum and the Cemetery has so many from the guided age of mausoleums including the Steinway (of piano fame) with spaces above and below ground with the ability to hold more than 200 people (not pictured).

After a solid education, we took the Cemetery trolley to the streets of Brooklyn and headed to King’s County Distillery at the Brooklyn Naval Yard. It happens to be the oldest Distillery in Brooklyn (2010). Here we got a tour of the distilling process and samples. To get the most out of the tour, you should have an appreciation for bourbon and moonshine.

Back to the cemetery armed with a map for some self guided meanderings! We have a lot of ground to cover – 478 acres, just a touch smaller than Prospect Park. The Cemetery is a lattice work of paths, roads, ponds. If you’re deep enough on the grounds you can forget that you’re in Brooklyn. If you’re paying attention you can see the Statue of Liberty from Battle Hill. Rumor has it it’s the tallest point in Brooklyn.

If you go, do yourself a favor and go in through the main entrance so that you can experience the archway – something I regret not getting a photo of.

I rounded off the day with a hazelnut magic bar and an oat milk cortado from Bakeri in Williamsburg. Because what is Brooklyn without a little extra something?

See you on the trails,

x

Jess

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