10 Family-Friendly Hiking Trails on Long Island
Whether you're a family of expert outdoorsmen or are just looking for a relaxing nature walk with your little ones, Long Island is home to an abundance of family-friendly hiking trails.
Not only do the hiking trails of Nassau and Suffolk Counties offer a chance for exercise and quality time with your kids, but they also provide an opportunity to learn about Long Island's diverse natural landscape. From toddlers to teens, these hiking adventures have something for everyone in your family.
For more family-friendly activities this season, visit our Fall Fun Guide for Long Island Kids.
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Trails at Sands Point Preserve meander through acres of diverse habitats.
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1. Sands Point Preserve – Sands Point
This site offers six marked trails through 216 acres of diverse habitat, including woods, fields, a pond, and even beachfront along the Long Island Sound. The preserve offers guided nature walks, and hikers can grab a trail map and find their own way. Dinosaur lovers enjoy the Dino Trail, a short walk through the woods complete with dinosaur footprints. Sands Point Preserve is open Wednesday-Saturday, 11am-7pm and Sundays, 9am-7pm, with the last entry at 6:30pm daily. Admission is $15 per car, and a contactless pay station is available at the Gatehouse. Walk-in visitors pay $4 per person. Leashed dogs are welcome.
2. Blydenburgh County Park – Smithtown
The 627-acre Blydenburgh County Park features several trails to enjoy, including a 6-mile loop around Stump Pond. Most trails offer water views, and fishing is allowed with a permit. Four-legged friends are welcome, so grab a leash and take in all nature has to offer. Admission is FREE to Suffolk County residents with a Green Key residency card.
3. Massapequa Preserve – Massapequa
This 20-mile trail is the longest hiking trail in Nassau County. It follows the shore of Massapequa Lake over a charming log bridge, where the landscape changes from traditional vegetation to pine barrens. Parts of the trail parallels Bethpage Parkway. The trail is mostly flat, but a hilly north section ends at Cold Spring Harbor State Park. Picnic areas dot the route, making it an ideal choice for day-trippers.
Take in a diverse environment while hiking through Bayard Cutting Arboretum.
4. Bayard Cutting Arboretum – Great River
This Long Island oasis offers eight marked trails that wind through gardens along the Connetquot River and around Long Island's pine barrens. The arboretum is open Tuesday-Sunday, from 8am-6pm. Vehicles pay an $8 fee to enter.
5. Caleb Smith State Park Preserve – Smithtown
2020 update: The park was hit hard by Tropical Storm Isaias. Some trails have reopened, but crews are still working to clear others. Follow the park on Facebook for up-to-the-minute status.
Caleb Smith State Park features 543 acres of woodland with marked trails perfect for exploring with the family. Once you're there, keep an eye out for a variety of birds. Children ages 15 and younger can fish on Willow Pond from April to October. The preserve also offers nature programs for all ages. The park is open from dawn to dusk, Wednesdays through Sundays year-round. Admission is $8 per car.
6. Mashomack Preserve – Shelter Island
The Mashomack Preserve is a Long Island nature-lovers dream, with more than 2,000 acres of tidal creeks, oak woodlands, fields, and freshwater marshes. The flat landscape makes it a perfect hiking destination for kids. In addition to beautiful fall foliage, Mashomack is home to more than 200 species of birds, so bring your binoculars for some excellent bird-watching. The trails are open from 9am-5pm every day but Tuesday through October. Visit the website for hours during other seasons.
Meditate while walking the labyrinth with your family at Avalon Park and Preserve.
7. Avalon Park and Preserve – Stony Brook
Between dusk and dawn, enjoy the gifts of nature at Avalon Park and Preserve. The preserve features eight acres of hiking trails, including a boardwalk and crushed stone paths. There is also a wheelchair-accessible paved hiking trail, as well as several points of interest to explore, including a labyrinth, rock formations, and sculptures. Leashed dogs are welcome. Ongoing construction projects have limited parking and restricted some trails at this time; be sure to park in the lots on Shep Jones Lane. FREE
8. Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve – Huntington
2020 update: Parking is limited to control crowd size during the pandemic. The historic, 1,750-acre Caumsett State Park offers 13 marked trails to explore, from less than a mile in length to 6 miles. With sweeping views of the Long Island Sound, paved paths, and crushed stone trails, woodlands, and beachfront, all amid historic charm, it is clear why this park is a Long Island favorite. The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset, and entry is $8 per car.
The Quogue Wildlife Refuge features 7 miles of explorable rails for young and old.
9. Quogue Wildlife Refuge – Quogue
2020 update: The indoor exhibits are currently closed.
This refuge is home to diverse wildlife, some of them injured and undergoing rehabilitation, plus 7 miles of trails to explore. The trails, which run through bogs and pine barrens, are easy hikes for all ages, and accessible for wheelchairs and strollers. Keep an eye out for turtles and frogs, and stop by the outdoor wildlife complex and nature center to view owls, foxes, and a bald eagle. The grounds are open daily from sunrise to sunset. FREE
11. Sunken Meadow State Park – Kings Park
2020 update: The trails in this park are temporarily closed; please visit its website to confirm they have reopened before you head out.
Sunken Meadow State Park's main trail features beautiful views of the mouth of the Nissequogue River. With varying topography, from wooded areas to beach bluffs, a hike through Sunken Meadow State Park is sure to be interesting. After your journey, cool off in the Long Island Sound. The park is open year-round, from sunrise to sunset, and entry is $8 per car.
Photos courtesy of the parks and preserves.
This post, originally published in September 2017, has since been updated.