Long Island is much more than a handful of city boroughs and suburbs. It’s also the site of some of the US’s most beautiful hiking trails. It’s also got a ton of nature preserves and parks, gorgeous coastline, and a variety of different terrains for you to challenge yourself with. Here are some of Long Island’s best places to go for a walk or hike:
Sunken Meadow Trail
Located in Suffolk County, Sunken Meadow Trail is one of the prettiest hikes on the island. It’s park of Governor Alfred E. Smith State Park, a whopping nearly 1,300 acres of wildflowers and beach.
The trail itself is roughly 6 kilometers (a bit less than 4 miles), with a few inclines and picnic tables for breaks. The latter 3 km will take you along the edge of the water, offering a lovely view of Long Island Sound. This is considered an easy trail and should take roughly an hour to an hour and a half to complete.
Cold Spring Harbor State Park Trail
Long Island might not have a lot of dramatic elevations, but it does have its share of challenging hikes. The most challenging among them is Cold Spring Harbor State Park Trail. It’s located in a state park that boasts some steep slopes, untouched forest, and scenic vistas, making it every bit as beautiful as it is difficult.
This trail is close to 7 kilometers (about 4 and a quarter miles) and is generally considered a moderate-to-difficult hike. It should take around two hours to complete.
Fire Island National Seashore Sunken Forest Nature Trail
Easy hikes, challenging slopes, and well-maintained parks are all well and good, but what if you’re looking for a unique experience? The Fire Island National Seashore Sunken Forest Nature Trail has you covered.
This trail starts by leading you over a boardwalk, away from the beaches and into a maritime forest. Towards the end, the forest opens into Bay Overlook, where you can experience some lovely views of the bay. Best of all, the trail terminates as a little-used beach. Time your visit right, and you might get the whole place to yourself!
This trail is short, sweet, and simple. It’s only about 2.5 kilometers (about a mile and a half), and you can complete it in about an hour. It’s also an easy hike without a lot of inclines.
Sands Point Preserve Loop Trail
Sands Point Preserve is home to Castle Gould, a 100,000 square foot castle with its own clocktower. There’s also a dino-trail (great for kids), dog parks, playgrounds, shoreline, and wooded areas. Take a little detour along Trail 5, just north of the pond area, and you can also enjoy some stunning views of Long Island Sound.
Sands Point Preserve Loop Trail is considered an easy hike. The elevation gain is only about 132 feet overall, and the trail itself is about 3.2 kilometers (2 miles) long.
Long Island Greenbelt Trail
Looking for a multi-day backpacking trip? You’ll love the Long Island Greenbelt Trail. It spans from Great South Bay to Long Island Sound, and will take you along rivers, through pine forests, beside beaches, and more.
Though this trail is long, it’s not super difficult. It’s well marked and reachable by public transportation, so you can duck out if the going gets too rough. The whole trail is about 49.8 kilometers (31 miles) and takes roughly two days to complete. If you’re not feeling up to a two-day hike, you can also easily divide the trail into two parts.
Hiking through Muttontown Preserve is a really wonderful experience. It’s a well-known spot for local equestrians, which isn’t surprising — the area is full of wildflower meadows, forests, and groves of persimmon trees.
Best of all, the southern portion of the Preserve has some beautiful ruins. They’re the remains of a 60-room neoclassical mansion. It was first built by Wall Street tycoon Charles Hudson in 1906, but is best known as the castle of King Zog I of Albania. He’d purchased it in 1951, but the King sadly never relocated — after a bit of exile, CIA missions, and Cold War intrigue, the mansion was sold to mining magnate Lansdell Christie. He had the mansion torn down in 1959, but pillars, fountains, staircases, and more still remain, reclaimed by nature.
This trail is about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles). It’s considered pretty easy, with an elevation gain of only 132 feet.
Long Island might have a lot of developed areas, but there are just as many spots of beautiful, undisturbed forest and meadow land. Whether you’re looking for a fun, easy trail for kids, a challenging hike, a multi-day backpacking trip, or scenic vistas and unique sights, one of these trails is sure to wow you.