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

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