Fall is the best season to spend time outdoors on Long Island. The relatively flat terrain enables young children to participate in a walk through the woods, but watch out for tree roots, which are easy to trip over. There are a variety of ways to make the trip special. Some families enjoy a quiet walk, some enjoy identifying the wildlife and plants, and some just enjoy having an opportunity to bond with each other. Whatever the reason, there are plenty of trails throughout the East End to explore. Pack some bug spray or put some on before heading out. Remember to check for ticks at the end of the outing. It is also a good idea to go to the bathroom ahead of time. Bring along some water, as many of the locations do not have water fountains. After the hike, make a day out of it and check out some apple farms on the East End.
Greenport, NY 11944
This peaceful park is part of the Long Island Pine Barrens Maritime Reserve, due to its unique resources. The preserve is a short drive from Greenport Village, and about a quarter of a mile down Chapel Lane from Route 25. The three trails wind through the woods and pass by wetlands and a freshwater pond. About 3/4 of the way into the main loop, which is an easy 3/4 mile walk, there is the Overlook Path, which leads to an observation tower. Don't miss the opportunity to climb the tower and to look out over the water. Kids love the view from above, especially if they are into bird watching. Ospreys fly overhead and are looking for food and nest on the shores of the pond below. The paths at the preserve are well maintained and there are benches along the main path.
Cranberry Bog County Preserve
Riverhead Moriches Road
Riverhead, NY 11901
Enjoy an easy 1 mile hike around Sweezy Pond, which is along an abandoned cranberry bog. In addition to a wide variety of native wildlife and plants in this wetland area, the trail also goes past the old pump house. Cranberry harvesting took place in this area from the late 1800's through the early 1900's.
Dwarf Pines Plains Preserve
East side of county road 31, 1/10 mile from the intersection of county road 27
Westhampton, NY 11977
The Dwarf Pine Plain community is a rare ecosystem with only three in the region, so take advantage of this local resource. Spend some time exploring its 6/10 mile trail. The trees in this region average 3 to 6 feet, making it home to some uncommon wildlife.
Mill Road Preserve
1900 West Mill Road
Mattituck, NY 11952
The main trail at this 25 acre preserve is a 2/3 mile loop, but there is also a shortcut trail, which cuts it to just under a quarter mile walk. The trail is marked well and is wide, so there is no chance of getting lost. It is a bit out of the way, so there are typically no more than one or two cars in the parking area.
Montauk County Park
East Lake Drive
Montauk, NY 11954
A trip to Montauk County Park includes not only a beautiful hike, but a journey back in time at the Third House Museum. Early cattle keepers called Third House Museum home but in 1898, it served as the headquarters for Camp Wikoff. After their victory in the Spanish American War, Theodore Roosevelt and 28,000 soldiers with contagious diseases were quarantined at the camp.
Orient Beach State Park
Orient, NY 11957
The hiking options, along with other activities at this park, makes it worth the drive to the tip of the North Fork. After hiking through the maritime forests and taking in the views of Shelter Island, take some time to relax on the beach or play at the playground. A beach pass is required and there is a nominal fee to purchase one.
Sound View Dunes Park
7199 Soundview Avenue
Peconic, NY 11971
A short 1/3 mile trail leads straight to the breathtaking views of the Sound. A longer 1 mile hike winds its way through the woods and grasslands before making its way to the sandy beach.