21 Winter Walks on Long Island for Families

Explore the sprawling grounds of Sagamore Hill, former home of President Theodore Roosevelt, on a beautiful winter day. Photo by the Jaime Sumersille
Explore the sprawling grounds of Sagamore Hill, former home of President Theodore Roosevelt, on a beautiful winter day. Photo by the Jaime Sumersille
1/21/24 - By Jaime Sumersille

When the mercury hasn't dipped too low, bundle up the kids and fend off winter blues with one of these winter walks on Long Island.

Long Island is home to several state parks, preserves, and historical grounds that provide family-friendly hiking trails, serene natural beauty, and breathtaking views—even in the middle of winter. So, grab your warmest coats and boots and head for the hills (so to speak).

Don't forget to check out our Winter Fun Guide for more ways to enjoy Long Island's breathtaking beauty in any season.


Winter Walks For Families in Nassau County

1. Garvies Point Preserve — Glen Cove

Take in the natural shoreline, meadow, and woodland environments at this 62-acre North Shore preserve. Marvel at the trees, shrubs, vines, and wildflowers until you reach the high cliffs. In addition to nearly 150 bird species, the preserve is home to woodchucks, opossums, and raccoons that can occasionally be seen along the meadow's edge. Grab a map and check out which trail is best for your family, as all are cleared and marked for visitors. Pop into the on-site museum, which illustrates the cultural and natural history of Long Island's North Shore through interactive exhibits and dioramas depicting the daily life of the Native Americans who lived here. The museum is also a research facility, and there is a large-scale model of archaeological excavations from the area.

2. Sands Point Preserve — Sands Point

Sands Point Preserve is home to six trails ripe for strolling, hiking, jogging, and exploring at a sprawling Gold Coast estate turned public sanctuary. Hop on the quarter-mile Dino Trail located just across a drawbridge. Complete with two agility stations and a picnic area, this is a perfect trail for little striders. A rugged-wheel stroller could also make the trek. There are five other looping trails on the property, and leashed pooches are welcome here. The Woodland Playground boasts a 75-foot zip line, a swing set, a four-seat rocker, spinners, a tether ball, and a huge geodesic dome climber. This area is also home to the quail coop, which serves as a natural and effective form of pest management. 

3. Bailey Arboretum — Locust Valley

This 40-acre North Shore preserve houses its own Children's Habitat, allowing kids to explore, climb, build, create, and even make music, all outdoors. Picnicking, dog walking, and cross-country skiing are allowed here. There is no charge, but donations are encouraged. There are plenty of photo ops on the stunning grounds.  

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Long Island Winter Walks: Sagamore Hill
The trail at Sagamore Hill includes water views and a boardwalk bridge. Photo by Melanie Ressa

4. Sagamore Hill — Oyster Bay

The historic home of our 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt, from 1885 until 1919, this Oyster Bay estate boasts 83 acres of lush nature trails, woodlands, beaches, a salt marsh, and a chicken coop. Sagamore Hill’s boardwalk nature trail leads to scenic water views of a salt marsh and beach. Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and sledding are permitted in winter. Bring Fido along, because Sagamore Hill is dog-friendly. While trails and grounds open daily, tours of the Roosevelt Home are Thursday-Sunday by advanced reservation only. The Old Orchard Museum is open Thursday-Sunday from 11am-4pm. Take a look at our guide to Oyster Bay for more family-friendly activities in the area. 

5. Massapequa Preserve — Massapequa

Located in the heart of the community, this Massapequa Preserve is a 432-acre oasis that transports you to a forest-covered Greenway. Its bike path is used by walkers, runners, and, of course, cyclists. Enjoy the path from the Long Island Expressway to the north, all the way to Cedar Beach. The miles-long path is paved and filled with interesting scenery to satisfy curious kids, plus plenty of bridge crossings and ducks. Leashed dogs are also welcome here. For more fun in Massapequa, check out our story on the best things to do in Massapequa with kids

6. Norman J. Levy Preserve — Merrick

This converted landfill serves as a plant and wildlife sanctuary, complete with two human-made ponds. A 3-mile, winding hiking trail offers more than a dozen exercise stations. You can spot the New York City skyline from the path's 115-foot peak on a clear day. Wildlife such as egrets, turtles, snakes, and foxes call this preserve home, while goats help keep the grass trimmed and Guinea fowl are employed to keep the ticks controlled. There's a 500-foot fishing pier that extends into Merrick Bay. If you're planning to bring a stroller, some trails do have stairs. Admission is free and it is open daily until dusk.

7. Tanglewood Preserve — Rockville Centre

This 11-acre Nassau County park and preserve in Rockville Centre features a mostly flat, very short trail that meanders through the woods and around a pond. The pond is stocked, and fishing is allowed. Leading down to the trail is a rolling green that kids will enjoy racing down. The Center for Science is also on-site, and kids can enjoy indoor and outdoor animal habitats, such as peafowl, emus, and owls. There's also an outdoor dinosaur exhibit. The trail is free, but there is an admission fee to enter the Center for Science. Check out our guide to Rockville Centre for more kid-friendly things to do in the area. 

8. Twin Lakes Preserve — Wantagh

Twin Lakes Preserve in Wantagh offers a 1.5-mile loop with semi-rugged terrain and stunning pond views from every point on the trail. The 58-acre preserve features five freshwater ponds and an extensive section of freshwater wetlands and transitional-stage woodlands. Bring a fishing pole or hike the trails. Beware: Parking is quirky. There are a few roadside spots at the base of the Park Avenue Bridge, but side streets are more optimal.

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Long Island Winter Walks: Hempstead Lake State Park
Hempstead Lake State Park has renovated trails leading down to majestic water views. Photo by Jaime Sumersille

9. Hempstead Lake State Park — West Hempstead

Athletic courts, playgrounds, picnicking, boardwalks, observation towers, three ponds, trails, horseback riding, fishing, a carousel, and a nature education center can all be found on the sprawling grounds of Hempstead Lake State Park. Free story times are offered monthly, and Tiny Tots programs for ages 3-5 and more attract families year-round. Leashed dogs are also welcome. 

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10. Connetquot River State Park Preserve — Oakdale

You'll find bathrooms, a pond, streams, and even a fish hatchery at this unique South Shore park. It boasts stroller-friendly paved paths, and narrow, woodsy trails. There are bridle trails, too, so you might catch someone trotting by. The Tiny Tots program for 3-5-year-olds runs here on Wednesdays in winter. Note: Bicycling, picnicking, and pets are not allowed, as this is a nature preserve. During the winter, the preserve is closed on Mondays and there is an $8 vehicle use fee. 

11. Bayard Cutting Arboretum — Great River

This 691-acre park overlooking the Connetquot River is described as an "oasis of beauty and quiet." Trees along the trail are labeled for educational purposes. Be sure to find the hidden maze under a weeping willow tree. There is so much going on at this arboretum that it's ripe for a scavenger hunt. A special program for home-schooled children is held on Tuesdays. The Hidden Oak Cafe, which offers a quaint tea and sandwich menu, operates on the premises as well. The facility is closed on Mondays. 

12. South Shore Nature Center — East Islip

With an engaging wigwam on-site, this South Shore Nature Center also boasts a salt marsh with a boardwalk trail, a pond, and wooded trails. The park is not huge, so it offers decent-length hikes with kids. Be ready to remain still because, at any moment, you could see deer walking nearby. The trails are not stroller-friendly, so pack the baby carrier. Restrooms are available during public hours, 9am-5pm. The visitor center, which offers several programs, including a fully outdoor preschool, is open on weekends only.

13. Blydenburgh County Park — Smithtown

The possibilities are endless at this lush, forested, 627-acre park that is open year-round. The head of the Nissequogue River is also located in the park and a 5.7-mile loop trail guides hikers with white and blue arrows. Hiking, fishing, camping, rowboat rentals (in season), horse paths, a playground, and a dog run are all available. A collection of historic buildings dating back to the 1700s is also located on the property. If you enter via Jericho Turnpike, you'll face more rugged trails.

14. Cold Spring Harbor State Park — Cold Spring Harbor

Take in the scenic vistas of Cold Spring Harbor from 40 acres of hilly terrain in this park. Keep your eyes peeled for songbirds, great horned owls, and red-tailed hawks. Enter at the northern trailhead of the Nassau Suffolk Greenbelt Trail, which extends to Bethpage State Park and eventually the South Shore of Nassau County. Visitors are welcome to snowshoe or cross-country ski as well. Bring Fido along, but make sure he's leashed and remains on the trails with you. Pets are not permitted in playgrounds, boardwalks, or beaches.

15. Prosser Pines — Yaphank

A small, forest-like space west of the twin forks of Long Island, Prosser Pines began as pine seedlings in 1812 and its trees are now nearly 100 feet tall. It's one of the oldest surviving White Pine Plantations to exist on the Eastern Seaboard. Leashed dogs are also welcome on this 0.7-mile loop. While it isn't very stroller-friendly, and there are no bathrooms on-site, with some planning your family will be grateful to have made this trek.

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16. South Fork Natural History Museum & Nature Center — Bridgehampton

This animal- and nature-fueled natural history museum in Bridgehampton offers kids hands-on experiences and immerses them in nature. Reservations are currently required to enter the building. Once inside, you're surrounded by murals of the natural world, including forests and freshwater ponds. Kids love sinking their hands into the downstairs touch tank to feel prickly sea urchins and other sea creatures. Reptiles, frogs, and more live animal exhibits are available, too, and so is an outdoor butterfly garden. Take a guided nature walk on the grounds or check out one of the many family-friendly events and workshops happening at the museum.

17. Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge — Sag Harbor

Established in the mid-1950s, this refuge is home to diverse habitats, including an expansive and majestic bay-facing beach. If you love getting up close with feathered friends, bring along some birdseed. Birds will use you as a perch and eat the seed right from your hands. Morton’s forests and marshes are home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, chipmunks, turkeys, turtles, and frogs. Up in the skies, sighting of ospreys, ducks, terns, and other water birds are common.  Hike the trails and set up camp at the beach, but note that portions of the Amagansett and Morton Refuge beaches might be closed for short periods during nesting periods.

18. Mashomack Preserve — Shelter Island

Located 3 miles from the south ferry to North Haven on Shelter Island, Mashomack Preserve boasts 12 miles of coastline and acres of creeks, woodlands, and fields. There are several trail options from 1-10 miles, so choose wisely. We managed to do 2 miles with my boys, ages 7 and 10. The terrain was steep at times and bumpy, so tread carefully. Note: Trails open daily from dawn to dusk. Visitor Center exhibits are open 10am- 3pm, Thursday through Saturday. Trails will only be open on weekends during January. Bathrooms are open during operational hours.

19. Sagg Swamp Preserve — Bridgehampton

Considered one of the most beautiful nature walks on the East End by Hamptons Magazine, this 105-acre preserve boasts an array of oak, red maple, and Atlantic white cedar trees. There is also a 700-foot boardwalk that curves out over the swamp, where you might spot some of the 14 species of mammals that live there, as well as 84 species of birds. It's open from dusk to dawn.

20. Montauk Point State Park — Montauk

Nature trails and sweeping water views are abundant at Montauk Point State Park. Cross-country skiing and dog walking are also permitted. You can visit the state's oldest lighthouse, the Montauk Point Lighthouse, which is open seasonally. Keep in mind that children under 41 inches tall are not permitted to climb the lighthouse. Note: the $8 vehicle use fee is collected year-round. Check out our story on the best things to do with kids in Montauk for more great ideas. 

21. Laurel Lake Preserve — Laurel

At nearly 500 acres, Laurel Lake is the largest preserve in Southold Town, and its 2-plus mile trail features a panoply of tree and animal species. The forest is dominated by oak, hickory, beech, and maple, but don’t miss the mixed forest, where the hardwoods share space with evergreens. Of course, where there are trees, there are woodpeckers, often heard hammering away for food. Other wildlife include owls, foxes, deer, and squirrels. Laurel Lake, from which the preserve draws its name, provides a habitat for waterfowl, amphibians, and reptiles, including turtles.

This post was originally published in 2014 and is updated annually.

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