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

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

Prospect Park

Where: Prospect Park (Brooklyn, NY)

What: Walk (trail, paved, cobble stone)

Snacks: Blue Marble Ice Cream (Brooklyn, NY)

You can drive here if you want to. You can find some street parking and various parking garages. I took the LIRR and the the subway (2 or the 3 to the Brooklyn Museum stop). Various entrances are walkable from various other subways, this one is just the simplest, in my opinion. Go to the museum too, and the botanical gardens and the library. Certainly, if you’re schlepping into Brooklyn, make a full day of it. This is especially true if you’re an East Ender like me.

Prospect Park has everything you’d expect from a large urban green space: baseball fields, sledding hills, ample walking spaces, people playing quidditch as best they can, a zoo, dogs, people on cell phones and inline skates. Oh and a carousel. It isn’t an unpopular park by any stretch. Even at thirty degrees the park was full. When I say full I mean that you can’t get a moment away from other people anywhere in the park. You also can’t escape the road noise; it is Brooklyn after all. I can’t imagine what summer in Prospect Park is like. I mean, I can, I’ve been there but, I don’t want to. I don’t know if you’ve picked up on this yet, dear reader but I don’t like crowds and I’m not really a people person.

I entered by the archway across from the library; roaming the park for an hour and a half. I took the perimeter loop, which is roughly three and a half miles with various intersections. You can see a good portion of the park if you block out two or so hours. There are lots of benches and grassy areas if you need a break from exploring. The park is filled with maps and signage leading you to popular destination points. Maps are also available online (https://www.prospectpark.org/media/filer_public/7f/88/7f88b8ca-f614-4cf4-9761-7e3097e74753/prospect_park_running_map.pdf).

I don’t dawdle. I walk frustratingly fast when I’ve got lots to see and limited time. The city brings this out times infinity. Pro tip – play video games it will help with your spacial awareness and navigating through the dense fog of other people.

For this trip I overindulged on ice cream at Blue Marble. Ignore how smooth that is, I forgot to take a photo before starting. I promised myself that I wouldn’t skimp on food photos. Small warning to those that don’t like being around children – Blue Marble has a play area and is extremely child friendly.

See you on the trails,

x

Jess

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

Hike LI: Lakeland County Park

Where: Lakeland County Park, Islandia

What: Hiking (trail, boardwalk/ dirt)

Snacks: Cornucopia Natural Foods, Sayville

Let’s go! Lakeland County Park has an address; a real address. This is a miracle of sorts since most trail head finding is an elaborate guessing game. Use 176 Johnson Avenue, Islandia NY 11749 for your GPS. There are also public restrooms so, true treat – obviously.

Lakeland boasts basketball courts, a full playground and accessible trails. I, myself can’t resist the swings. There is a decent sized parking area that I have yet to see full.

The trails here consist of unpaved dirt and a raised boardwalk. The boardwalk is loose in a few spots but nothing unsettling. Watch where you step – not everyone frequenting the park is courteous enough to clean up after their pets. (Yes, I’ve stepped in it. Yes, I’m bitter.)

Weave through the boardwalk and follow the signs for ‘Honey Suckle Pond.’ It is haunting but not in an unsettling way. For me, Lakeland offers a sense of ease. Pass the pond and you’ll see a shady graffiti covered underpass. Train tracks above it will give you a slight “Stand by Me,” vibe — if you’re old enough. I assure you, it won’t be nearly as death defying.

Speaking of graffiti, Lakeland is full of it. The boardwalk seems to invite it. If you end up on the dirt trail, be mindful or you’ll get a far longer adventure than you planned for. The 30+ mile Greenbelt Trail* enters the park. It is marked by signs and white trail blazes. There are also scattered blue blazes for a horse path.

Overall, enjoy the park. Lounge on the many benches. Go down the slide like you’re a kid again. Have a picnic in their well kept picnic area. You’ll occasionally get a whiff of marijuana but you won’t be able to find the source. Teenagers are crafty. Don’t let this turn you off.

My snacking habit brought me to Cornucopia Natural Foods. It is a small organic grocery store and deli – from black bean burgers to specialty chocolates to smoothies. It is essentially a prepared foods wonderland. I wanted a mint chip smoothie but they’d finished their mint for the day so I opted to try a specialty chocolate from Honey Mama’s to get that mint craving satisfied.

*It is on the list!

See you on the trails!

x

Jessa