HikeLI: Pine Trail

Where: Pine Trial Nature Preserve: Ridge, NY

What: Hike (Trail, Unpaved)

Snacks: Waterdrinker Farms: Manorville, NY

Pine Trail is neat and vast. The entrance is on 25 and if you blink you’ll miss it. The trailhead is just west of Misfit Tavern on the same side of the road. Look for green hiker signs and a sizable dirt lot.

Pine Trail doesn’t make a loop but if you’re feeling up to the challenge you can take it to Manorville, into Rocky Point or to the Brookhaven Trail. Further, part of the Pine Barrens Trail and the Paumanok Path cut through here. Don’t trespass onto Brookhaven Lab! Fences will tell you when you’ve found it. Yes, even if the fence isn’t locked. Yes, I know it is tempting.

When I come here, I make my own short out and back in an attempt to mitigate the expanse of the trail network. Typically, I hug left, following the white blazes and walk to the trail sign for the Brookhaven Trail and turn back. It takes about an hour. I have yet to explore the other options. So much trail. So little time.

There isn’t much to see here, unfortunately, the trail hugs a residential area in some places and you end up under power lines in another. Dogs bark at you, people in their backyards stare at you like they forget that their house backs up to public land. The trail is very narrow in some places and the brush tickles at your ankles. Be sure to check for ticks once you exit.

The best part happens to be all of the local farm stands! The afternoon was spent at Finks, Lenny Bruno and Waterdrinker. Finks doesn’t let you into the U-Pick area if they have a field trip and Lenny Bruno is cash only. Pumpkins! Gourds! Purple cauliflower! Roast corn!

See you on the trails,



HikeLI: A Day of Folly on the Northshore

This post marks my first failed attempt at thru- hiking the Nassau-Suffolk Greenbelt trail. I didn’t plan the day well and it showed in the outcome. The portion of the Greenbelt trail that I did get to hike was remarkably well kept. I will be back Nassau-Suffolk Greenbelt, I promise.

Where: Cold Spring Harbor State Park (Cold Spring Harbor) and beyond

What: Trail, unpaved

Snacks: Sweetie Pies, Cold Spring Harbor

There are plenty of people who say that there isn’t any ‘real’ hiking on Long Island. If you’re one of those people, I challenge you to put in some miles in at Cold Spring Harbor.

The goal was to take the Nassau-Suffolk Greenbelt trail, in a single day as a thru-hike. It didn’t pan out. Those that have completed it recommend parking at train stations. I got a late start and parked at the Cold Spring Harbor Library. That parking area closes and added a crunch time feel to the hike. This was mistake number one. My hiking companion and I intended to have someone pick us up in Massapequa but while we were on the trail we got word that, that fell through. We can call this mistake number two as it would have been better to have one of our cars at the Massapequa train station. We realized that we left most of the food and water in the car. This was mistake number three and a really unfortunate oversight.

The Cold Spring Harbor portion was hillier and far more crowded than anticipated. It was swarmed with people, which felt odd. I’d never been to Cold Spring Harbor and it is by far the most crowded I have ever experience a Long Island trail. We got to our third road crossing and there was a girl leaning into a tree, back to us, humming. Her presence really left us uneasy. This, coupled with the business of the road, coupled with lack of supplies and lack of ease getting a ride back caused us to turn around. It was like the Universe was telling, ‘not today.’ You ever get that feeling?

We’ll be back.

We decided to keep hiking and took a trip to West Hills Preserve to hike a bit of the Walt Whitman trail. We headed to West Hills County Park and were met with trail closures and fences erected in every direction we turned. It was unsettling. We turned back through the preserve and got very lost. Without maps on our phones, we may never have gotten out. The – not today – feeling felt strong.

It felt like a waste of a day although we put in about 12 miles. I want to go back and complete the Nassau-Suffolk. Perhaps when the days are longer. It was sobering to not finish something I set out to do but also, so many factors let to lack of completion.

Headed to Sweetie Pies in Cold Spring Harbor for Funfetti Scones and pumpkin spice.A weird day on the trails doesn’t mean snacks fall to the wayside. Although, it turns out that I don’t actually like pumpkin spice….

See you on the trails!



HikeLI: Wertheim Wildlife Refuge

Where: Wertheim Wildlife Refuge, Shirley

What: Walk (trail, packed gravel and unpaved)

Snacks: Tend Coffee, Shirley

Werheim Wildlife Refuge can be found at 349 Smith Road 11967. Yes, dear readers, we’ve got a real address and a real parking lot. Wertheim winds along the Carmen River. Choose between the 1.5+ mile White Oak Trail or the 3.4 mile Black Tupelo Trail or do both for a gorgeous day, exploring a great outdoor space. I’ve done both and the White Oak Trail has better lookout points. While both trails are wide and flat, the White Oak maintains smoother surfaces.

Watch the kayakers, stop off at several great view points. Go slow, take it all in – there’s something magical here. The trails are separate, well marked loops with minimal room for error or confusion. Much of the park is accessible and dotted with signs pointing to accessible features and viewpoints.

There is also a visitors center with a restroom and helpful, onsite staff. Inside the center, find interactive exhibits.

I’m just going to let the photos speak for themselves on this one. It was a lovely day relaxing around the park. I capped the day off with cookies and a hot tea from Tend Coffee.

See you on the trails,



HikeBeyondLI: I Went to Maine

Where: Acadia National Park and Mackworth Island, Falmouth

What: Hiking (various)

Snacks and Extras: Ate my way through Bar Harbor and fruit picking at Dole’s Orchard

Hi friends! I went to Maine and spent three great days hiking around and enjoying the leaves and sunshine. Where to begin?

In Acadia National Park I did – Jordan Pond, South Bubble, The Bubble Divide, Ocean Walk, The Carriage Roads to Witch Hole and Beech Mountain. Followed by Mackworth Island on the way back to the airport. It was already off season but Bar Harbor and the surrounding area was so crowded that I can imagine what in season must be like, especially when it comes to parking. I read about a bus called Island Explorer but, it doesn’t run in off season.

Day 1: I couldn’t check into the motel until 3pm so with time to kill I grabbed lunch at a place called The Independent. It was a coffee shop / cafe with a blueberry coffee that tasted like it was vine ripened. Almond milk and sugar made it taste like pie in a cup. One spinach and hummus wrapped later, I was fueled for the park. For Acadia, find a visitors’ center to purchase a park pass. Like other National Parks, it is $30 for a week.

Parked in the Jordan Pond lot with the intent of walking the four miles or so around the lake. I got distracted by a sign for the South Bubble summit. It was less than half a mile away but it was rocky, steep and had an iron rung designed to help hoist yourself. It was by far the toughest scramble I’d ever completed. Once at the summit, I heard children’s voices. A family let my companion and I know that there was an easier way up. Oh. I went down through the Bubble Divide, super rocky with lots of loose rocks, back to Jordan Pond. To finish the loop take the wood plank boardwalk. It was marshy and felt never ending.

Day 2: I made an attempt to see sunrise from Cadillac Mountain but it was so foggy seeing your hand in front of your face was difficult. Huge shoutout to my friend Lauren who braved the fog from behind the wheel. Instead I went to Jeannie’s Great Maine Breakfast for apple cinnamon pancakes. Vegan pancakes! Caught sunset though. It rained and Acadia has lots of hikes with iron rungs and ladders so I stuck with Ranger recommended safe hikes. I meandered through carriage roads to Witches Hole. It was roughly six miles of lakes and one terrifying lake with dozens of dead trees surrounded by the colors of fall. Ocean Walk was incredibly crowded but I managed to see gorgeous cliffs and beautiful water views.

Day 3: I have a thing for fire towers and to look for them wherever I go.* Found one at Acadia. The roughly two mile Beech Mountain Summit. Park in the Beech Mountain parking area and take one of two paths up. I took the steeper trail up and the less steep trail down. It was a great decision with gorgeous views on the way down that I would have missed if my back were to them. Terrain was rocky but no scrambling required.

Headed back to the airport and stopped at Mackworth Island. It was so cute! About a mile and a half, flat and accessible. There were swings and fairy huts and gorgeous overlooks. Just magical.

See you on the trails!



*I realize that all of this is written in ‘I’ statements despite traveling with my Lauren. She and I always find fire-towers together.

HikeBeyondLI: A Super Fall Day

Where: Rockefeller State Park, Pleasantville and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

What: Hike (trail, carriage road)

Snacks and Extras: Pik Nik BBQ and Muddy Water Coffee, Tarrytown and Horseman’s Hollow

Hello friends! Welcome to a spooky Halloween edition of JessaHikes. Today we leave Long Island and head to 125 Phelps Way in Pleasantville, NY. About a half hour outside of Manhattan, Rockefeller State Park is a favorite fall destination of mine.

Park in one of the ample spaces and pay the $6 fee at the machines. Use the restroom if you need to and head under the archway. (I know!An address, restrooms – beautiful) Take a map from the visitors’ center and get moving. There are dozens of miles of trails at Rockefeller, most of which are packed gravel carriage roads.

Follow the map and make your own path. Trails are all named, but short and connect well. I took a stroll around the lake, up to an Overlook then over to the river to Witches Spring and Big Tree and back around. It was a gorgeous loop that took about two hours. Whenever I go, I try to take a new path.

It is difficult to give concrete directions through the park. Paths are numerous and winding. The park is comprised of 45 miles of carriage roads donated by the Rockefellers. I’ve been about a dozen times and have yet to hit every patch of trail. There are beautiful water features including an aqueduct and stunning bridges throughout. Plan some time and really get lost here. Gentle gradients make it an easy place to meander.

Next I headed over to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Fun fact – it was originally marketed as a park! Spend time with family both here and from the beyond. The cemetery tour is excellent – filled with stories. Our guide mentioned that she doesn’t tell ghost stories so as not to spark panic on the tour.

Following this, head into Tarrytown. BBQ fan? Head to Pik Nik for neat sides and flavorful dishes. It was cute, cozy and delicious. Food photography skills, poor. Food images not included.

Grabbed a quick coffee at Muddy Water before heading to a spooky walk. Muddy Water had every non-dairy milk a girl could ask for. Oat, almond, soy and coconut, oh my. Plus vegan treats.

Horseman’s Hollow was an Ichabod Crane themed spooky walk (obviously!). Scare level 3 out of 10. Costuming 8 out of 10. Ambiance 10 out of 10. It was on the grounds of the Philipsburg Manor and it was stellar. Candle lit pathways, scares and picturesque grounds. Beware, spooky walk contains strobe lights.

See you on the trails!



First Responders Memorial Recreational Field

Where: First Responders Memorial Recreational Field (FRMRF), Islandia, NY

What: Walk (trail, paved)

Snacks: 7-11, Islandia and Thai Angel, Islandia

I want to preface this by saying, I’m aware that this isn’t a hike. It is a walk at a park. But, it is one I enjoy when I’m short on time, don’t want to be bothered by vehicles and want to work my upper body.

It also wouldn’t be a Long Island based blog without a trip to 7-11. You can disagree with me here. There are also no photos of a 7-11 coffee cup. I’m sorry that I let you down.

FRMRF is a place you drive by, stumble upon and bookmark for future use but never manage to return to. Find it again, whatever that outdoor space is for you.

To get there use the address for the Islandia Village Hall. The parking area is located there and the park itself is across the street. Use the crosswalk; crossing Old Nichols Road can get hectic.

I stopped here after a lunch trip to Thai Angel (Islandia). Full of green curry, I set off on my little jaunt. Green curry not pictured because honestly, as tasty as I find it, it doesn’t photograph well. Now, I’ve let you down twice in one post. Forgive me?

FRMRF is about a 10-15 minute walk around an athletic field. The trail is paved, smooth and wide. There are also ample benches for the easily fatigued among us. Take a stroll, have a seat or work your upper body. Wait. What?

The little trail boasts outdoor athletic equipment, chest press, pull up bars and more. It is a cozy little fitness trail. You might have an audience but, I encourage you, if you want to, to take full advantage.

Once my little work out was complete I walked to 7-11. It is diagonally across the street about a block from the parking lot for FRMRF. I really want to drive around Long Island rating and reviewing 7-11s. If that dream were to come true, this one would get a B+.

See you on the trails,



HikeLI: Blydenburgh County Park

Where: Blydenburgh County Park, Smithtown

What: Hike (trail, unpaved)

Snacks: Duck Donuts, Hauppague

When I come to Blydenburgh, I park by the dog run. Enter the park at the Veteran’s Highway entrance across from the government offices. Sometimes there is a parking fee, sometimes there isn’t. It all depends on the time of day, the season and the gate attendant. It is all very fickle. Once, the gate attendant was too busy finishing a cigarette and waved me right through in the middle of a Saturday afternoon during the summer. How generous of him.

Veer right. The road will eventually turn to dirt and the parking entrance will be to the left. You’ll see the dog run and access to the trail. Enter the trail through the large opening in the trees and head straight down to the pond. To your right you’ll see blue blazes. That’s your trail.

Today, I’m taking you through all six or so miles of the blue trail. Lucky you! Follow the blue blazes around the pond. You’ll cross over foot bridges and have access to viewpoints. The blue trail eventually becomes unmarked in favor white blazes. These blazes share trail with the Greenbelt Trail. Make sure you hug the pond. If you see the pink house after the second mile, you’re on the right track. Continue to hug the pond until the blue blazes reappear. Sometimes blue is green, sometimes blue and green share trees. I’m not sure why, it’s like someone decided to casually spray paint a few trees. Continue to follow the blue.

The trail is largely well marked but be vigilant. Eventually the trail intersects the road. It doesn’t end here. Keep your eyes focused left to continue the blue trail back toward the pond toward the boat house. Boat rentals for all! I took a break and watched the boaters for a bit. There wasn’t anyone around to discuss rentals with, sadly.

The trail is serene and only lightly hilly in a few parts. Beautiful views of the pond throughout. Occasionally buggy. Occasionally unmanageably so. Seriously, why are Long Island mosquitos so good at defying bug spray? Is it me? Do I sweat it off? Am I extra delicious? Please never try to lick me.

Follow the blue blazes until you end up back at your starting point. Poll time! Did I say follow the blue too much?

Donuts are a meh dessert for me. I know, I know …but Jess… then why were they your snack this week? Because, dear friends these are made to order, fresh out of the fry oil with the toppings of your choice. Plus, rubber ducks. Everywhere.

See you on the trails!