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

Hike LI: Cranberry Bog

Where: Cranberry Bog, Riverhead

What: Hiking (trail, unpaved)

Snacks: Mustache Brewery, Riverhead

If there are people in your life that aren’t outdoorsy and they want to be Cranberry Bog is a great introduction. The mile or so path is clear with minimal debris. There are enough view points to make even the biggest curmudgeon smile.

To get there, use the address for the Wildwood Lanes. If you are coming from Rt. 58 the trail head will be after the bowling ally to the left. If you’re coming from the traffic circle it will be on your right. The trailhead is well marked with a prominent sign.

Enter the trail by going around the gate. I have yet to see it open as it is to prevent vehicles from driving to the water. Walk forward toward the lake. You’ll know when you’re there, you can see it through the trees. Once you get to the lake, veer right and follow the loop around the lake. There are plenty of little view points along the way. Roughly a third of the way around a loop, there will be a concrete structure to your right. It is typically covered in graffiti but, I have yet to see anyone nefarious.

The bridge pictured below indicates that your nature jaunt is almost finished. You’ll walk over the lily pad strewn water and feel like you’re far away from Long Island.

Pair this short hike with a tasting at Mustache Brewery. Flavors rotate. Cheers! There as several other breweries, and hard cider breweries in or around Riverhead. Off the top of my head I can think of Crooked Ladder, Woodside and Long Ireland.

Riverhead is a popular tourist destination so if drinking isn’t your thing there is a bustling Main Street with cute eateries and an aquarium. I highly recommend Blue Duck Bakery for its cafe and abundance of pasties. I’m a dessert person, what can I say! If none of these fit the bill, there is always Tanger Outlet.

See you on the trails!

X

Jessa

Hike LI: Terrell River County Park

Where: Terrell River County Park, East Moriches

What: Hiking (trail, unpaved, sandy)

Snacks: Mustard Seed Cafe, Center Moriches (as of 2/8/2019 it has come to my attention that this location is not longer open).

Once upon a time, a young Jessa had her first crush on a boy. He eventually left for the army and she was sad. She had other crushes but they were intangible – unless anyone thinks teenage me had a chance with actor Stuart Townsend. When the boy was discharged from the army he wanted to take Jessa on a date!

“Dress nicely,” the army boy said, “we’re going somewhere nice and special.” Heels. Dress. Make-up. He picks me up. We pull into a dirt parking lot. “Changed my mind. We’re going hiking.” I’m stubborn, like ridiculously stubborn and hiked the whole, roughly three miles, in those heels. Blisters be damned, this was for true love (warning: true love not guaranteed even after bold gestures).

The boy didn’t last but my love for Terrell River County Park did. To get to my beloved park, use the address for Khaler’s Pond Park. (Side note: Khaler’s is a great fishing spot with a sturdy playground and public restrooms). The lot for the trailhead is across the street.

When you walk in, take the trail to the left and follow the white blazes. Not only is the white trail the most scenic it is also the most well marked. Any side trail that you see is an overlook. They might be similar but take advantage of as many as you can.

The trail loops at a beach. For years, I called this “secret beach” without realizing the popularity of the park. Extend your hike by walking along the beach in either direction. The tide levels dictate the amount of beach you have access to. Loop back the way you came or take the wider path straight back to the parking lot. This path is wide enough for a stroller and I believe clear enough for a wheel chair. If you’d like to start on this path when you enter the park, enter the park to the right.

The trail gets very buggy in the warmer months and after a big rain so plan accordingly.

I paired this park with Mustard Seed Cafe. Mustard Seed is a full service cafe boasting pastries, sandwiches and breakfast all day. They also sell flower bundles! Cinnamon bun snack not pictured – treats rotate.

See you on the trails!

x

Jessa

Bike LI: Veteran’s Memorial Park

Where: Veteran’s Memorial Park, Calverton

What: Bike (road, paved)

Snacks: Hollywood Sweets, Ridge

Let’s begin! I love Veteran’s Memorial Park and I love it even more now that the paved trail extends another five miles. Last year it was a mere six mile out and back (3 miles each way). This year they’ve extended it to sixteen miles (8 miles out and back!!!). You can walk / run the trail but there might not be enough visual stimulus to keep you going. I’ve seen rollerblades and skateboards too.

Getting there: Just east of the Wading River Motel on the opposite side of the road. I recommend the motel address for your GPS.

At the end of mile one you have the choice to continue on the trail or take Burman Boulevard. This road will intersect the trail again between miles six and seven.

Take the trail and you’ll be rewarded with a smooth meandering ride. Be mindful of deer, ticks and occasional areas with excessive sand, and fallen pine needles.

Miles five to seven are where things get interesting. Just after mile five you’ll see a cemetery to your left. It is small, overgrown and well fenced. I’m a touch superstitious and won’t take photos of cemeteries that aren’t tourist attractions. I also hold my breath when I ride by. It’s a hold over from being a little kid and believing that you can breath in souls.

After the cemetery you’ll come to a rail yard. You may think this is the end of your ride but don’t turn around just yet! If the gate to your left is opened, cross the tracks and ride right through. Yours truly isn’t sure if this is an active railway, be cautious.

Continue to follow the trail. When you get to the end you’ll know as the trail ends abruptly at the eighth mile. There appears to be room for further expansion (pretty please). You’ll also get your final, of many, tick warning signs.

You have a choice now – you can turn around and follow the trail back or you can take the intersection at Burman Boulevard and reconnect with the trail at the end of mile one. Taking the intersection makes your trip about twelve miles as opposed to sixteen.

After the trails take a trip to Hollywood Sweets for some post ride ice cream. It’s such a fun pairing. The ice cream parlor has dozens of flavors, candies and so many movie posters. Settle into their seating area for some board games.

See you on the trails!

x

Jessa