Belmont Lake State Park
Phone - (631) 667-5055
Website - nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/info.asp?parkID=159
Admission Fee - Yes, in season
Directions – Babylon; at Exit 38 of the Southern State Parkway. To reach the southern end of the park, go to Exit 39. Head south on Deer Park Avenue, cross over Sunrise Highway, and one mile further, turn right onto Park Avenue. Turn right into Babylon Village Park.
August Belmont, Jr. inherited the Belmont banking house from his father, from which he helped fund the building of the New York subway. But he is best remembered as a horsemen, serving as the first president of thoroughbred racing’s ruling body, the Jockey Club, and creating Belmont Park. Belmont lived most of his life on his 1,100-acre estate here, nurturing one of America’s greatest racing stables. During World War I, Belmont volunteered in France with the U.S. Army at the age of 65, causing him to disband his legendary stable. One of the last foals raised here was named by his wife in honor of his military service: Man o’ War. After August Belmont died in 1924 the family mansion was used as Long Island State Park Commision Administration Headquarters. It was razed in 1935 for a new headquarters.
The star walk for your dog in Belmont Lake State Park is a pleasing circumnavigation of the centerpiece lake. At a languid pace this trip on the big, curving loop will take you about an hour to complete with your dog. It is all easy trotting on a cinder path, about half in leafy hardwoods and half on open lakeshore. If your dog considers this ramble just a warm-up, duck through a tunnel at the south end of the lake and cross under the Southern State Parkway. The park extends for an additional two miles down a slender strip of open space to Southard Pond, a wilder cousin of Belmont Lake. You’ll find miles of informal foot and bridle trails here, mixed with paved bikepaths. Preserved primarily as wetlands, these trails flood quickly in times of wet weather. August Belmont raised more than horses on his estate. A president of the American Kennel Club for 8 years, he was well known for exhibiting smooth-coated fox terriers. Earlier, he had shown his 8-year old Gordon setter, Robin, in the first Westminster Dog Show in 1877. Two years later Robin died and is buried on the grounds.
Where The Paw Meets The Earth: The trails are open to bikes and horses south of Sunrise Highway. For a break from the strollers and joggers around Belmont Lake the southern portion of the park is less crowded.
Workout For Your Dog – You can find yourself more than an hour of hiking here
Swimming - A grassy shelf at the south end of Belmont Lake does nicely
Restrictions On Dogs - Dogs are allowed in the undeveloped parts of the park, which translates to the trails. No dogs permitted in the picnic areas.
On September 10, 1813, in light winds, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry engaged the British fleet on Lake Erie off the coast of Ohio. Before the day was over Perry defeated and captured six Royal Navy ships, securing control of the Great Lakes for the remainder of the War of 1812. Cannons recovered from British warships in this first great victory by the United States Navy were resurrected from a junk yard and placed beside Belmont Lake by Mrs. August Belmont, Commodore Perry’s niece.
Phone - None
Website - www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/newyork/preserves/art10987.html
Admission Fee - None
Directions – Manorville; from the Long Island Expressway take Exit 70 and turn north. After less than one mile turn right on Ryerson Avenue at the T-intersection. Turn right on North Street after crossing the railroad tracks and bear left on Wading River Manor Road when the road splits. Make your second right onto Old River Road. A small parking area is a half-mile down on the left.
This 350-acre coastal plain pond ecosystem is one of the most unique wetland ecosystems in North America. The ponds are topographical depressions that intersect groundwater and are fed through porous sand, not streams like most ponds. Water levels rise and fall with the rainfall causing an adaptive plant community that can survive in times of plenty and times of scarcity. More than 30 of these plant species are considered rare and threatened - the most in New York.
This is one of the loveliest hikes you can take with your dog on Long Island, more like a stroll down a pine-lined country lane. The wide road/trails slip among three tranquil coastal ponds. The trail system visits all three ponds. You can circle Block Pond on the white-blazed trail, returning on the yellow-blazed path. The yellow-blazed route also visits the back shores of Fox Pond but you will need to retrace your steps here. You need to keep your dog on the trail to protect this fragile environment but that is easy on the wide passageways. This is all easy hiking for your dog on soft, straw-covered paths.
Where The Paw Meets The Earth: No bikes, no motor vehicles and no horses allowed; the limited parking guarantees light visitation
Workout For Your Dog – A good woodsy romp is in store here
Swimming - This protected preserve is not the place to satisfy your water-loving dog
Restrictions On Dogs - Dogs are restricted to the trails
Death and killing are going on all around you in this tranquil spot. It takes a special plant to make a life in the nutrient-challenged environment of the Pine Barrens. Some have evolved to draw their sustenance from juicy insects. Along the shores of Calverton Ponds is a good place to observe these insectivorious plants. Ewer-shaped pitcher plants lure insects with the promise of a sweet nectar meal from which they slip into a deadly trap for consumption by a cocktail of digestive fluids in the pitcher. Tiny hairs pointing downward prevent the doomed victims from crawling to freedom. Sundews secrete a gooey substance to snare their next meal. The leaves of water-based bladderworts have tiny trapdoors that open when nature’s smorgasbord floats by. In the air during the summer look over the water for colorful damselflies. These ferocious hunters are globally threatened with many species found only on the waters of Long Island.
Camp Hero State Park
Phone - (631) 668-3781
Website - http://nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/info.asp?parkID=82
Admission Fee - None
Directions – Montauk; head towards the end of the Sunrise Highway (Route 27) and turn right just before you reach the lighthouse.
The federal government first established a base at the strategic tip of Long Island in 1929, naming the fort for Major General Andrew Hero, Jr., who was the Army’s Chief of Coast Artillery at the time. During World War II in 1942, with German U-boats menacing the East Coast, the installation was bulked up with seaplane hangars, barracks and docks and renamed Camp Hero. All the buildings were built to look like an innocuous New England fishing village. Concrete bunkers had windows painted on them and base buildings sprouted ornamental roofs with fake dormers. The gymnasium was made to look like a church with a false steeple. At its peak, the camp housed 600 enlisted men and 37 officers. In 1947 Camp Hero was deactivated but revived in the 1950s as a site for Antiaircraft Artillery training. The military left for good in 1978 and after an effort to turn Montauk Point into a resort destination was thwarted the land was bounced from the U.S. Department of the Interior to the State of New York, finally becoming a state park in 2002.
There is plenty of unique wandering to be found for your your dog in old Camp Hero. The Paumanok Path begins (or ends) its journey across Long Island here. Part of your dog’s hiking day can follow part of the Old Montauk Highway that was the principle artery though the South Fork until the Montauk State Parkway was constructed. You can explore the buildings still standing in the military area. Bunkers and odd structures are seemingly around every turn. Your dog will find elevation changes as the trails visit the top of fragile bluffs and work down to cobble beaches. Although much of the trails are broken macadam or sandy jeep roads you can also find traditional woods walking on paths like the Battery 113 Trail. Oh, and stick to the roads and trails - it is not impossible to stumble upon unexploded ordnance.
Where The Paw Meets The Earth: Almost anything here from sand to pebbles to asphalt to concrete to natural dirt
Workout For Your Dog – Ups and downs aplenty
Swimming - The trails lead down to the Atlantic Ocean where the surf is often frisky enough to dissuade all but the most avid dog paddler
Restrictions On Dogs - Dogs are allowed throughout Camp Hero
The dominant man-made structure remaining in Camp Hero is a massive AN/FPS-35 long range radar used in the early 1960s. Only 12 of these radars, capable ofpicking up objects 200 miles away, were ever built. The antennas weighed 70 to 80 tons and were perched on concrete tower bases built 80 feet high. There were numerous bugs with the giant radars and all have been dismantled except for the one at Camp Hero. Boaters on Long Island Sound lobbied to save the installation since it was a better landmark during the day than the lighthouse next door. At least that’s the official story. Others believe the radar was used by the government in top-secret time travel experiments called the Montauk Project.
David Sarnoff Pine Barrens Preserve
Phone - (631) 444-0273
Website - www.dec.ny.gov/animals/27036.html
Admission Fee - None
Directions - Riverhead; on Route 104, about two miles south of Riverhead traffic cirle. Parking is available in a lot on the west side of the highway.
Russian immigrant David Sarnoff learned to operate a telegraph key as a boy and went to work for the American Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company, meeting the inventor of the telegraph. Before he was to end his career with the Marconi company and its successor, the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) sixty years later Marconi would oversee the invention of radio, champion the development of television, coordinate the communications for D-Day during World War II and log three decades as President of RCA. On April 12, 1914 a 20-year Sarnoff went to work as a wireless operator when the technology was still a novelty. That night he picked up faint signals from the icy North Atlantic of the sinking of the Titanic. He stayed at his post for 72 straight hours bringing news of the disaster to the world. After that all ships were required to have wireless. In the 1920s Sarnoff directed the development of this property as the receiving hub for RCA’s revolutionary transatlantic wireless radio communication network.
At one time pitch pine and scrub oak barrens covered 25% of all Long Island but today fewer than 100,000 acres remain and these 2,000+ acres are among the largest contiguous swaths of pine barrens remaining. Two canine hiking loops have been carved in the preserve, each reached by a lengthy connector trail, blazed in yellow. The Blue Loop is the shorter of the two circles, about 2.5 miles. Since the acidic soil delays the decay of leaves and organic matter, prescribed burns are necessary to clear the burgeoning tinder box. These burns are evident on the Blue Loop. This route crosses high-speed traffic on Route 104 so that makes the longer Red Loop more attractive to dog owners. It requires a lengthy 1.25-mile lead-in to reach the Red Loop but your dog won’t complain while trotting the soft sandy trail. You and your dog will need to go single-file on much of this hike that has been routed past kettle depressions and picturesque stands of pines. In some places the huckleberry and blueberry constrain the path so as to brush each leg. This is easy going for your dog, however, with no real climbs ,just dips and rolls through the pine barrens.
Where The Paw Meets The Earth: Natural paw-friendly paths
Workout For Your Dog – A good half-day to complete all the trails here
Swimming - These pine barrens filter an underground aquifer of between three and five trillion gallons and occasionally a woodland pond has formed to refresh your dog
Restrictions On Dogs - Dogs are not allowed in the public beach area
The antenna farm created by RCA in these pine barrens featured 75 steel towers built 120 feet high. The company removed all traces of the structures before the land was opened to the public but you can still see abandoned antenna fields. They are especially plentiful along the Red Loop.
Edgewood Oak Brush Plains Preserve
Phone - None
Website - www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7815.html
Admission Fee - None
Directions – Deer Park; take Exit 53 south from the Long Island Expressway on Commack Road. A generous parking area is on the left side of the road.
In 1927 the State of New York built the largest psychiatric hospital the world had ever seen on 825 acres among the farms of Long Island. At its peak, Pilgrim State Hospital housed 13,875 patients. In the early 1940s the U.S. Army established another hospital next door for tuberculosis care and treatment of shell-shocked war veterans. When World War II ended, the Army turned the facility over to the state which operated it as the Edgewood State Hospital for the next quarter-century. Edgewood closed in 1971 and suffered through a two-decade period of vandalism and neglect. Finally in 1989 the hospital complex and tallest building in western Suffolk County (229 feet high) was demolished. The property was saved from development by State Senator Owen Johnson and today is part of the Long Island’s 1,400 remaining acres of ecologically unique oak brush plains, which once covered 60,000 acres extending eastward from the Hempstead plains.
The main hiking route through the Edgewood site is a blue-blazed route that tickles the edges of the 843-acre preserve. The full circuit covers over three miles but can be shortened on the Old Commack Road (a closed coarse sand thoroughfare) or any of a number of other unmarked old roads. The entire preserve is virtually flat and, despite what its name implies, offers plenty of shade on a hot day. Under paw your dog will find a mix of pebbly sand and broken asphalt. This is a great place to get lost with your dog for a couple of hours.
Where The Paw Meets The Earth: No motorized vehicles and the terrain isn’t challenging enough to attract many mountain bikers or many hikers for that matter
Workout For Your Dog – Easy going but your dog can spend a lot of time poking around the preserve
Swimming – Sorry, not here
Restrictions On Dogs – Dogs are allowed to hike these trails
When the site was cleared a group of radio-control airplane enthusiasts obtained a permit to build a pit area and the Edgewood Flyers were born. If you are lucky you will see some of their aerial maneuvers from the grassy runway in the center of the preserve when you visit with your dog.
Fire Island National Seashore
Phone - (631) 289-4810
Website – www.nps.gov/fiis/index.htm
Admission Fee – None
Directions - (Otis Pike Wilderness Area) - Shirley; from the Long Island Expressway take Exit 68 and follow the William Floyd Parkway (Route 46) south to its end.
The origins of the name Fire Island are lost to obscurity. Perhaps it was a mangled spelling of the Dutch numeral “vier” (4) to identify the number of inlet islands in the area. When Fire Island Beach appeared on charts in the 1850s many believed it referred to land-based pirates who built fires on the open sand to lure cargo ships to their doom on the beach. Some favor the explanation that abundant poision ivy -it turns bright red in the fall - gave the island its colorful moniker. By any name Fire Island has attracted settlers for centuries, drawn by its bountiful stores of seafood and waterfowl. But by 1964 Fire Island was the only developed barrier island in the United States without any roads and the national seashore was established to keep it that way.
YYour dog’s adventure at Fire Island is dependent on the time of year. Dogs are not allowed on the beach during piping plover nesting season from March 15 to Labor Day but dogs can still visit Watch Hill and Sailors Haven, each accessible only by passenger ferry. Dogs are allowed on the ferries for a fee. At Watch Hill your dog can trot through the Sunken Forest, where 200-year old holly and hardwood trees bravely battle relentless salt sprays. The prime time for dogs, however, is after Labor Day in the Otis Pike High Dune Wilderness Area, established by Congress in 1980 to protect 1,400 acres on a seven-mile stretch of oceanfront. Starting at the Wilderness Visitor Center at the eastern end, this spectacular sliver of Fire Island reaches to Watch Hill to the west. The ferries run for a few more weeks after Labor Day so it is possible to execute this hike as a car shuttle, otherwise you will need to hike back from your turnaround point. Every pawfall for your dog will be on thick, soft sand with little shade so the entire 14-mile round trip is unrealistic. Closely monitor your dog’s effort to determine when to head back. A good destination is Old Inlet with an attractive dock off Pelican Island about two miles away. You can do the entire hike on the beach at water’s edge or make a loop behind the dunes on the Burma Road, a sand path that can be indiscernible and virtually impassable in places.
Where The Paw Meets The Earth: Driving is allowed on the beach in the wilderness area
Workout For Your Dog – As much as your dog desires
Swimming - Every day more than 10,000 waves pound the wide sand beach -more than a few will have your dog’s name on them. There is also access to the Great South Bay for gentler dog paddling.
Restrictions On Dogs - Dogs are never allowed on a lifeguarded beach or in Robert Moses State Park; dogs can stay in the Watch Hill campground
Part of the national seashore on the mainland is the William Floyd Estate, the vestiges of a rambling Colonial plantation. Between 1718 and 1976, eight generations of Floyds resided here, including William Floyd, a Major General in the American Revolution and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, who was born in the house in 1734. A self-guided tour today visits 12 outbuildings and the family cemetery (estate is closed in the winter).
Gardiner County Park
Phone - (631) 854-0935
Website - www.co.suffolk.ny.us/webtemp1.cfm?dept=10&id=880
Admission Fee - None
Directions – West Bay Shore; on the Montauk Highway (Route 27), east of the Robert Moses Causeway.
IIn 1635 military engineer Lion Gardiner sailed to America to build a fort at the mouth of the Connecticut River during the Pequot War. After the war, rather than returning to England, he crossed Long Island Sound to look for a new home. For the price of some cloth, a gun, some powder and “a large black dog” Gardiner purchased a 3,000-acre island from the Montaukett Indians and Sachem Wyandanch. In 1653 a raiding party of Niantic Indians attacked the Montaukett village on Montauk Point, killing more than 30 and taking prisoner the daughter of Wyandanch. To help his friend, Gardiner sailed to Rhode Island and paid a handsome ransom to bring her home. This led to Gardiner’s acquiring an additional 100,000 acres, becoming the largest landowner in Long Island history. Part of his property included this parkland on the Great South Bay that was acquired by Suffolk County in 1971.
Come to Gardiner’s Park on a beautiful weekend day and you will likely see a full parking lot - and each of those 100 cars has brought at least one dog. If your dog just wants a short walk there is a Canine Loop through an open field to the west of the parking lot. For a dog looking for a game of fetch, he can find it in the field behind the main lot. Trail dogs will head down Beach Road that runs down to Great South Bay. Once there, your dog can play on a crescent sand beach to the right. To the left the shore is muddier but still offers swimming opportunities. Crossing back through the marsh on Beach Road you can use Plover Road to complete a hiking loop of Gardiner Park. These sandy-based trails are all paw-friendly, even squishy in wet times. A maze of short connecting trails can be sampled to create alternate routes on return visits or a second tour of the park.
Where The Paw Meets The Earth: Dirt and sandy soil
Workout For Your Dog – This is more for stolling and relaxing
Swimming - The gentle waves of Great South Bay will beckon even the most timid dog to try a swim
Restrictions On Dogs - This is the dog-friendliest park on Long Island and poop bags are available at the trailhead
Across Montauk Highway from the park is Sagtikos Manor, built in 1692. The house has experienced several additions in its 300+ years and today George Washington likely would not recognize the manor he slept in during his tour of Long Island in 1790. Sagtikos Manor once embraced 1,200 acres spreading north from Great South Bay in a shape that resembled the head of a snake. The name “Sagtikos” comes from the Algonquian Indian word for snake.
Hither Hills State Park
Phone - (631) 668-2554
Website - http://nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/info.asp?parkID=48
Admission Fee - in season mid-April to mid-November, but only south of Route 27 where dogs are not allowed
Directions – East Hampton; parking is available on the north side of Montauk Point State Parkway (Route 27) at the Hither Hills Overlook, one mile east of the split with Old Montauk Highway.
In 1879, ten years before his death, Arthur W. Benson, of Brooklyn Gas & Light and Bensonhurst fame, purchased 10,000 acres of government land around Montauk for a little more than $15 an acre. He envisioned his new holdings as a playground for the rich. A generation later Robert Moses, the visionary New York land planner, saw a different future for Montauk. He wanted a necklace of public parks along the Montauk shores and in 1924 announced plans to condemn 1700 Benson estate acres for the fledgling New York State Parks system. It took a three-year court battle that wound its way to the New York Supreme Court but Moses prevailed. The enduring jewel of his struggle is Hither Hills State Park that stretches from ocean to bay and is the largest state park in Montauk.
For most visitors, Hither Hills is a mile of pristine, dune-backed Atlantic Ocean beach and top-rated campground. With such delights, the 1755-acre park’s interior that stretches to Napeague Bay is often overlooked. All the better for canine hikers, who are not welcome on the beach anyway. Miles of informal sandy trails and jeep roads pick through the pitch pine, scrub oak and beach heather. Of the marked trails, the long-distance Paumanok Path that crosses to Montauk is the most prominent. It can be combined with the Serpent’s Back Trail and others to form sporty hiking loops that will delight your dog for hours. Expect plenty of ups and downs as you twist through the pine barrens. Highlights include the bass-stuffed Fresh Pond, panoramic overlooks and the sandy/cobbly shore of Napeague Bay.
Where The Paw Meets The Earth: Expect plenty of sand under the paw
Workout For Your Dog - Absolutely
Swimming - The swimming is easy for your dog on the sandy beach of Napeague Harbor from the Walking Dunes Trail and on the shores of Napeague Bay
Restrictions On Dogs - Dogs are not permitted anywhere south of Route 27 including the beach and campground but can hike east of Napeague Harbor and south of Napeague Bay
Hither Hills is home to the unique walking dunes - 80-foot high piles of sand that are blown more than three feet each year by the strong westerly winds.As the sands shift they completely bury trees and vegetation, eventually moving on and leaving phantom forests of dead trees. A 3/4-mile trail loops through the dunes and giant bowls for you and your dog to poke around the bogs and coastal shrubs up close.Further explorations can take place along the shore of Napeague Harbor and around Goff Point.Parking for the Walking Dunes is at the end of Napeague Harbor Road and is limited to a few cars.
Hubbard County Park
Phone - None
Website - None
Admission Fee - None
Directions – Hampton Bays; from the Sunrise Highway (Route 27), take Exit 65 North on Route 24. After two miles turn right on Red Creek Road. A gated entrance is on the left and there is room to park on the shoulder of the road.
John Jacob Astor owned this land on the south shore of Flanders Bay when he was the richest man in America in the early 1800s. Much of the ancestral forest was logged at that time and the tidal Mill Creek was dammed to power a saw mill. Through most of the 1800s the Hubbard family homesteaded here, clearing more land, farming and raising chickens. In 1937, financier Edward Francis (E.F.) Hutton purchased the Hubbard land to use as a private hunting preserve. He renovated the family home to create the Black Duck Lodge. By the 1970s escalating taxes and residential development forced the closure of many of Long Island’s gun clubs. The Black Duck Lodge and the neighboring Flanders Gun Club were acquired by Suffolk County and designated an undeveloped county park.
Most of the extended canine hiking at Hubbard County Park involves crossing active roads but there are a series of road/trails that branch around the property, leading to a variety of adventures for your dog. The Red Owl Trail hikes to the shore of Flanders Bay and a “ghost forest” of Atlantic cedar stumps visible at low tide. The stumps are silent testament to the rising sea levels along Long Island’s north shore. This trail is closed to the public between April 15 and August 15 for osprey nesting. A short loop around the historic Black Duck Lodge visits marshes and forests and the old Flanders gun Club can be reached to the west of Mill Creek. Along the trails your dog can still sniff the remains of old duck blinds. This is all easy going for your dog on soft surface trails that can get muddy in the low-lying tidal grounds. The marquee trail in the park is the Black Owl Loop that connects to Sears Bellows Park and requires two hazardous crossings of Route 24 to complete its five miles. Across Red Creek Road to the east Pine Barrens Trail checks out the freshwater Penny Pond.
Where The Paw Meets The Earth: Hubbard County Park is lightly visited with most people migrating to its more developed twin, Sears Bellow County Park
Workout For Your Dog – Easy going but plenty of hiking available
Swimming - There is access for your water-loving dog to the the tidal Hubbard Creek at a canoe launch, Penny Pond and Cow Yard Beach on Flanders Bay
Restrictions On Dogs - Dogs are allowed to trot where so many of their ancestors once worked the marshes
After emerging from winter hibernation turtles can be seen on the roads and trails at Hubbard County Park. Five types of the reptile inhabit the park: Box Turtles (brown to olive and yellowish); Spotted Turtles (smooth black with yellow spots); Mud Turtles (smooth olive to dark brown); Diamond-backed Terrapins (polygonal with concentric circles); and Snapping Turtles (ridged shell with a saw-toothed tail). Snappers are Long Island’s largest common turtles and can inhabit any permanent body of freshwater. Although placid in the water, where they often remain buried in the mud with just their eyes showing, the turtles should not be approached on land as they can deliver a painful bite if jostled.
Laurel Valley County Park
Phone - None
Website - None
Admission Fee - None
Directions - Noyack; on Deerfield Road, one mile south of Noyac Road (Route 38). From the Montauk Highway (Route 27) turn north on Deerfield Road in Water Mill. Park along the east side of the road..
This hunk of oak-hickory climax forest in an otherwise residential area was purchased by Suffolk County in 1990 less for its beauty than for its deep freshwater deposits. We can’t see the valuable pockets of water underground but we sure can appreciate the beauty of this undeveloped 148-acre park.
The Paumanok Path passes through the park but for canine day hikers the star in Laurel Valley is the 2.5-mile loop trail that shares part of it route with its long-distance cousin. This is a sporty outing for your dog dipping in and out of many kettles and ravines through an interesting woodland landscape. Monstrous chunks of glacial ice have left kettle depressions across the park and their meltwater cut numerous ravines. The steep sides of the ravines in turn are ideal for the growing of mountain laurel in the understory and, hence, Laurel Valley. None of the climbs is likely to set your dog to panting but you will reach an overlook of the Noyac Golf and Country Club and perhaps Peconic Bay beyond. The park serves up a series of curiousities to mark your journey around the loop. A grove of smooth, grey-barked beech trees stand out as they have blotted out the competition below and a single pitch pine has muscled its way through the canopy. But the most striking discovery is a graveyard of black locust trees that have fallen in the forest. This native of the southeast is actually an invasive species. It is one of the hardest and heaviest hardwoods in North America and many dozen have been uprooted in the Laurel Valley forest.
Where The Paw Meets The Earth: Natural dirt trails throughout
Workout For Your Dog – Several hours of woods walking on tap here
Swimming - Nope
Restrictions On Dogs - Dogs are permitted to hike in Laurel Valley
Laurel Valley is a favorite of birdwatchers and one of the star performers is the mottled brown American Woodcock with its unique courtship display. In springtime, at dusk, males arrive at “singing grounds” and begin flying in upward spiraling circles before swooping back to earth where they herald their flights in song. Woodcocks require four habitats in close proximity: feeding cover, nesting cover, roosting areas and open ground for courtship.
Long Pond Greenbelt
Phone - None
Website - longpondgreenbelt.org/
Admission Fee - None
Directions - Sag Harbor; from Bridgehampton on Route 27 take the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike north to Mahashimuet Park on the right. Park in front of the playground but be certain not to enter the park - there are more NO DOGS signs per square inch here than any place on Long Island. The trailhead is evident at an opening in the woods to your right, past an information board.
Water is the dominant theme of the Long Pond Greenbelt, stretching from its creation by glacial activity over 20,000 years ago to its well-lubricated present. Some 30 bodies of water including saltwater ponds, freshwater ponds and tidal ponds are included in the 1,100 acres bounded by the Sag Harbor Turnpike and Sagg Road. In the 1800s a mile-long trench was dug among several ponds to juice the water flow for a mill to operate on Otter Pond. Later a dam was built at the north end of Long Pond to provide public water for Sag Harbor. This aquatic diversity has created a wonderland for botanists - there are more rare plant species here than anywhere in New York. More than three dozen are globally threatened. The preserve began in 1969 and over the years parcels of land have collected from the town, county and state to build the Greenbelt from Ligonee Creek in Sag Harbor to Sagaponack Pond in Sagaponack.
The backbone of the Long Pond Greenbelt is the Old Railway Spur that hauled passengers and freight between Bridgehampton Train Station and Long Wharf in Sag Harbor between 1870 and 1939. One of the most prized cargoes was ice from Round Pond destined to New York City. The railway was pulled up for steel in World War II and the predictably flat route now makes an ideal trotting surface for dogs. There are more than nine miles of trails here, including little detours to the old water works and the dam. For a long, leisurely loop point your dog south on the Old Railway Spur, turn left on the Crooked Pond Path and head back on the Sprig Tree Path. For shorter outings, there are many combinations open. Under paw your dog will find a sandy, pebbly mix often obscured by oak leaves.
Where The Paw Meets The Earth: No motor vehicles and the wide main routes afford plenty of passing room
Workout For Your Dog – You can get a long walk here
Swimming - Your water-loving dog will find many spots to delay your hike here; there is a boat ramp at Long Pond off Widow Gavitts Road
Restrictions On Dogs - Dogs are welcome to hike these pleasant trails
Truman Streckfus Persons was born in New Orleans in 1924 but by the time he came to live in Bridgehampton he was world famous as Truman Capote.When he died in 1984 Capote’s ashes were scattered on Crooked Pond, although his grave is in Los Angeles.Today there is a simple but elegant memorial at the lake’s edge: two short quotations from Capote and partner Jack Dunphy’s books are inscribed on a rock.
Montauk Point State Park
Phone - (631) 668-3781
Website - http://nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/info.asp?parkID=136
Admission Fee - Yes, on weekends and holidays
Directions – Montauk; at the very end of the Sunrise Highway (Route 27).
At the eastern tip of Long Island the land rises slightly. The Montaukett tribe who reigned over this area called the hill “Womponamon,” an Algonquian word meaning “to the east.” Great tribal councils were convened from the point. During the American Revolution the British Royal Navy controlled Montauk Point, lighting enormous fires on the bluff to guide its warships stationed in nearby Gardiner’s Bay. When the British departed after the war the American government quickly realized the importance of a lighthouse on Montauk Point. In 1792 Congress appropriated $255.12 to buy land upon which a light was to be built to guide boats past the perilous rocks. The first whale oil was lit in 1797 in New York’s first lighthouse and America’s fourth.
In Montauk Point State Park dogs can only go west of the concession stand which works out well since that is where the trails are. You didn’t really want to use the playground did you? There are two trailheads here. The red-blazed trail dives towards the shoreline down a service road and the green-blazed Money Pond Trail starts a little ways up the road. The Money Pond is where the pirate Captain Kidd supposedly stashed two treasure chests but no loot has ever been found. Your dog may feel as if he’s discovered gold on this tight, twisty route however. The sandy surface is a delight on the paw and the many dips and rolls are certain to pique any dog’s interest. The Money Pond Trail joins the yellow-blazed Seal Haulout Trail for a longer journey out to Oyster Pond and the red-blazed stem that closes the loop to the parking lot. Both lead to the shore with occasional side trips to the beach. The further your dog hikes from the point the sandier the beaches become.
Where The Paw Meets The Earth: Mostly sandy soil
Workout For Your Dog – A good workout awaits in this scrub dunesland
Swimming - Fantastic swimming awaits your dog in the usually placid Block Island Sound surf on the northern side of the point
Restrictions On Dogs - Dogs are allowed west of the parking lot/food stand
For reasons that are unkown, beginning in the 1990s seals began arriving in Long Island waters every year in mid-November. They stay until May, gorging on fish and sunning on beaches before heading back to New England. There are as many as 4000 individuals, mostly harbor seals but also ringed seals and grey seals as well. False Point in Montauk is one of the best seal hangouts. Your dog is not permitted close to the seal haulout beach so if you come, bring binoculars.To spot seals in the surf look for what appears to be a breaking wave with a little bewhiskered dog face in it. But be patient - seals can dive as deep as 300 feet and stay underwater as long as 28 minutes.
Pine Barrens Trail Information Center
Phone - (631) 852-3449
Website - www.co.suffolk.ny.us/webtemp1.cfm?dept=10&id=885
Admission Fee - None
Directions – Manorville; take Exit 70 off the Long Island Expressway and go north on Route 111. The Visitor Center is only 1/4 mile away on the right.
The Pine Barrens is Long Island’s premier ecosystem and one of the Northeast United State’s greatest natural treasures. There is a greater diversity of plant and animal species here than anywhere in all of New York. Prized for the beauty of the pitch pine and oak forests that grace the landscape, the Pine Barrens are also working hard for the citizens of Long Island. The sandy soils overlie the source of the greatest quantity of the purest drinking water on the island and filter virtually every drop into a single system of underground reservoirs, known as aquifers. This led the federal Environmental Protection Agency to designate the aquifer system as the nation’s first Sole Source Aquifer, requiring special protection.
Your dog has a choice here: a low-key trot or a spirited woodland ramble. The Wampmissick Trail is a 3/4-mile, handicap accessible loop that travels along finely ground gravel. Even with a rest on one of the trail benches or a stop to pick wild blueberries, this spin is just an appetizer for your dog. The Red/Yellow Trail breaks away from the interpretive loop down a narrow, leaf-covered single track where the adventure for your dog begins. The rolling route loops back to the departure point (make sure you turn left after re-crossing the road) or takes off across the Long Island Railroad for a long-distance canine hike. There was a Wampmissick train station here as early as 1852. This is classic woodland hiking for your dog on a serpentine path, shaded all the way. Look for a lone glacial erratic along the Red Trail. The hike does suffer from its proximity to the Long Island Expressway - even with the trees as a buffer, the drone of traffic never really disappears.
Where The Paw Meets The Earth: No bikes, no horses, not many hikers
Workout For Your Dog – Absolutely
Swimming - All the water is underground here
Restrictions On Dogs - None
“Wampmissick” is the Indian word for blueberry. The blueberry is native only to North America and favors the acidic soil found in the pine barrens. The wild blueberries you will find growing along this trail in the summer are much smaller than their farm-grown cousins you see in the grocery store. The domestication of the blueberry began 100 years ago in 1908. Cultivated berries grow on plants nearly ten times taller than those found here. The blueberry has been tabbed a “superfruit,” delivering such benefits as reduced stroke damage, preventing urinary tract infections and even battling aging.
Prosser Pines Nature Preserve
Phone - (631) 852-5500
Website - www.nps.gov/guis
Admission Fee - None
Directions - Middle Island; on Yaphank-Middle Island Road, south of Route 25. From the Long Island Expressway take Exit 66 North (Sills Rd). Bear left at the flashing light (Middle Island/Yaphank Rd). The park entrance is on the right, past Cathedral Pines County Park.
In 1812, William “Uncle Billy” Dayton planted a grove of white pine seedlings on the family farm. He obtained the seedlings from the neighboring Edwards farm that were growing from seedlings brought back from Quebec by French-and-Indian War veteran Jonathan Edwards. The Dayton family nurtured the pine grove through several generations until the farm was sold to George Prosser in 1889. Prosser was an even more attentive steward of the pines, some of which had grown to over 90 feet tall. Prosser would not allow standing trees to be cut - even when trees toppled in storms were shown to produce over 2000 board feet of lumber. He allowed the public to picnic in his grove and lobbied the township to expand his 30 acres of pines. As development quickened following World War II worried local residents agitated to protect the famous trees. Finally in 1969 Suffolk County purchased the pine plantation , preserving forever the largest white pine forest on Long Island.
An outing with your dog in the Prosser Pines is like no other on Long Island. The trails here disappear under a thick carpet of pine straw, the sun struggles to reach the ground, and you wander through scented corridors completely bereft of understory. The park slopes gently uphill and after you ascend the grade the legacy pines thin away, replaced by a younger, airier woodland. The ridge affords splendid views back into the dark cathedral.
Where The Paw Meets The Earth: Soft pine-strewn trails
Workout For Your Dog – Gently rolling terrain for an outing of about an hour
Swimming - None
Restrictions On Dogs - Dogs are allowed to ramble through the Cathedral Pines
In the early years, the white pine grove competed with the chestnut tree and oaks for space here. Without question, the greatest tree in America prior to 1900 was the chestnut. Rot resistant with fine-grained wood, the chestnut tree supported both vibrant wildlife populations and entire rural economies. It was estimated that one in every four trees in the eastern forests was a chestnut tree - some as old as 600 years. But in 1904 an Asian fungus was discovered in the Bronx Zoo and the blight soon decimated the chestnut population. By 1950 millions of acres of woodlands were left with dead, standing trees. The chestnut blight remains 100% fatal - young chestnuts may reach 20 or 30 feet but are doomed to succumb to the disease.
Rocky Point Natural Resources Management Area
Phone - (631) 444-0273
Website - www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7780.html
Admission Fee - None
Directions – Rocky Point; the park is dissected by Route 21, Rocky Point Road, south of Route 25A. Parking is available on Rocky Point Road, Route 25A and on the east side of Whiskey Road.
After World War I the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) gobbled up 6,000 acres in Rocky Point to develop the world’s largest and most powerful wireless transmitting station. The site included a research and development lab and an administration building that connected to a series of land-consuming long-wave radio towers. Construction began in 1920 on the Spanish-stylemain building meant to evoke a Hollywood mansion. “Radio Central” began operations on Nov. 5, 1921, on a signal from President Warren Gamiel Harding, who formally opened the station by sending a radiogram from Washington addressed to all nations. By the early 1960s, with the advent of satellites, most of the original long-wave towers that had stood at Radio Central were dismantled and removed. The installation shut down in 1978 and RCA donated Rocky Point and its twin receiving station in Riverhead to the State for $1 each. In 1993, the New York State Legislature enacted the Long Island Pine Barrens Protection Act, providing both the Sarnoff Preserve and Rocky Point the highest level of protection.
Rocky Point is laced with dozens of miles of trails dedicated to hiking, mountain biking and equestrians. If you keep your dog on the hiking-only trails you are essentially signing on for a ten-mile loop around the entire property. Your canine hiking day can be short-circuited, however, by using the multi-use trails to work your way back to the trailhead. The northern part of Rocky Point sports more hills than the numbingly flat southern sections but this is easy trotting for your dog throughout. Oaks dominate the forest, sharing the stage with pines only grudgingly. Rocky Point is also the eastern terminus of the Paumanok Path that eventually touches the Atlantic Ocean just short of Montauk Point and its white blazes mingle every now and then with the loop trail.
Where The Paw Meets The Earth: The hiking trails are reserved for foot traffic; the sandy roads and fire breaks can host horses and bikes should you venture there
Workout For Your Dog - A half-day of exploring is possible here
Swimming - Canine hikers only need apply
Restrictions On Dogs - Dogs are allowed to hike throughout the management area
The woodland scenery here may change less minute to minute than any other canine hike on Long Island so two topographic features will come as a jolt (well, perhaps not a jolt if you paid attention to the directional signs). Sitting Rock on the west side of Rocky Point Road is a dramatic glacial erratic left on the landscape from a retreating ice sheet.Sand Hill on the east side is also courtesy of a glacier that deposited a high pile of silt as it inched away.
Sears Bellows County Park
Phone - (631) 852-8290
Website - www.co.suffolk.ny.us/webtemp1.cfm?dept=10&id=886
Admission Fee - Yes, in summer
Directions – Hampton Bays; follow Sunrise Highway to Exit 65 North. Follow the road (Route 24) to Bellows Pond Road and turn left. The park entrance is on your right.
Once the site of the Flanders Club for sportsmen, the 979-acre county park is named for the two families that once owned much of the land. In 1963 Suffolk County purchased the first of its land to create Sears Bellow park.
The tail of your trail dog may droop a bit when bounding from the car in the Sears Bellows parking lot, greeted by an off-limits beach and a walk through a busy campground. But chin up. Once you clear the bustle of the developed part of the park and start down the blue-blazed footpath your dog’s mood will brighten immediately. The dominant natural features of the extensive park trail system are two lovely, pine-shaded ponds, Bellows and Sears, appropriately. The trail - sometimes narrow - between them is draped in large pines that often lean across the wide road/trail to touch boughs. There are long straightaways and some rolling terrain on these easy-going piney hikes. More than a dozen ponds are situated throughout the park. Dirt roads can be used for extended canine hiking here, including passing under the Sunrise Highway.
Where The Paw Meets The Earth: Bikes can also be found on the trail but you can expect long stretches of time alone with your dog in Sears Bellows County Park
Workout For Your Dog – Many hours on the trail can be had here
Swimming - There is plenty of access to freshwater ponds for your dog to practice his best dog paddle
Restrictions On Dogs - Dogs are welcome on the trails but not on the beach
Long Island with its humid climate, abundance of running water and sandy soil is ideal for raising ducks. Some of the largest duck farms in the world have been located on Long Island. In the 1930s there were 90 duck farms around Riverhead alone. In 1931 one of those duck farmers, Martin Maurer, built a retail poultry store in the shape of a 20-foot high Peking duck. Dubbed the ”Big Duck” from the beginning, the buidling was constructed on a wood frame with wire mesh, sheathed in concrete and painted white. The eyes were Ford Model “T” tail lights. In 1937, the 16,500-pound Big Duck was moved from its perch on West Main Street in Riverhead four miles southeast to Flanders, where it became a Long Island landmark before closing in 1984. Suffolk County rescued Big Duck from a wrecking ball and placed it at the entrance of Sears Bellows park in 1988. Big Duck moved downed the road in 2007 where it now houses a retail gift shop operated by the Friends for Long Island Heritage.
Shadmoor State Park
Phone - None
Website - http://nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/info.asp?parkID=83
Admission Fee – None
Directions – Montauk; on the south side of Route 27, one-half mile east of the village.
This land was purchased by the first European settlers from the Montaukett Indians late in the 1600s. The open plains on bluffs above the Atlantic Ocean were used used for grazing cattle and Shadmoor was still open grassland when the United States government established Camp Wikoff as a quarantine for soldiers returning from the Spanish-American War in 1898. After the war in Cuba the servicemen were riddled with tropical fevers. Over 20,000 soldiers recuperated here; 257 died. Among those who spent time in Camp Wikoff was Colonel Theodore Roosevelt and his regiment of Rough Riders. Shadmoor once again became important to the military during World War II when the Army used it for artillery practice and coastal defense. Two large concrete bunkers were built - the first permanent structures on the property as Camp Wikoff had been a canvas tent base. The bunkers are still standing in the park that was acquired in 2000.
The hiking goal at Shadmoor is the half-mile of oceanfront bluffs that overlook the Atlantic. There are two ways to get to accomplish this. The most direct route is a gentle uphill climb on abandoned Shad Lane. If you don’t make a quick detour to examine the World War II bunker this journey with your dog over the wide, wood-chip path will take less than 20 minutes. The round-about way is on the red-blazed Roosevelt Run Trail that loops around the perimeter of the 99-acre park. The once open plains have given way to a dense cover of maritime heath producing a tunnel effect for much of the journey. Once on the bluffs the hike opens up behind a low rail fence with views as far into the Atlantic Ocean as your dog can see. Continue downhill on the somewhat eroded footpath to the east and the trail leaves the state park and meanders into Rheinstein Park, operated by the town. Here your dog can trot down to the Ditch Plains Beach below the bluffs for play in the ocean. Retrace your steps back to Shadmoor or try one of the unmarked trails through the beach heath maze.
Where The Paw Meets The Earth: Dirt and sandy beach
Workout For Your Dog – Going up and down the bluffs will qualify as a workout
Swimming - Down on the beach is all the swimming your water-loving dog can take
Restrictions On Dogs - Dogs are allowed throughout the park
The sandplain ecosystem of coastal Long Island is among the most unusual on earth, home to dozens of rare plants and animals. Centuries ago, the sand plain moors would periodically burn, either by wildfires or from fires set by Montaukett Indians to facilitate hunting. By the 1900s too many houses made it impractical to scorch the earth. Pitch pine forests spread, shading the ground and burying it in pine needles. Grasses and wildflowers began to disappear. One of those wildflowers, the sand plain gerardia, is among the world’s most endangered species of plants but can still be found in the sandy soil at Shadmoor. A member of the Figwort family, the fragile plant grows about one foot tall and its purplish-pink flowers can be seen from August to September.
Southaven County Park
Phone - (631) 854-1414
Website - www.co.suffolk.ny.us/webtemp1.cfm?dept=10&id=878
Admission Fee - None
Directions - Brookhaven; just north of the Sunrise Parkway (Route 27), west of the Yaphank Avenue exit (57) and west of the William Floyd Parkway exit (58). The park entrance is on the north side of Victory Road. Mills began to replace the resin buckets and the most prosperous belonged to Samuel Carman. His house was so large it operated as a post office, tavern and store. New Yorkers arriving from the city to hunt ducks commonly said they were going to “Carman’s river,” and so it became.
This land situated along the Carmans River formed the western boundary of the massive landholdings of William “Tangier” Smith. The former mayor of Tangier, Morocco, Smith landed in America in 1686 and eventually bought 81,000 acres all the way to Riverhead. He oversaw his empire from the Manor of St. George that he built at the mouth of the river a few miles to the south. At this time the river was known as the Connecticut River and was the center for many small industries. Tar and turpentine from the plentiful pine trees was such a thriving business that by 1705 the town began to tax it. The settlement that grew up around the tarring business and was called “South Haven” shortened from “South Brookhaven.”
Southaven is primarily a picnic park with enough facilities to accommodate 1000 people on a summer afternoon. But there is plenty here to entertain an active trail dog as well. Push beyond the picnic groves and pick out a sandy road into the trees. Nothing is marked so come with a mind to enjoy an afternoon of free form hiking with your dog here - don’t come with a due back date, just wander. Work your way north through the open pine forest to create a big canine hiking loop. Sample some side trails. To the east you’ll reach the river where your dog can cool off, elsewhere you’ll ramble through open grass fields.
Where The Paw Meets The Earth: Natural dirt and grass
Workout For Your Dog – Nothing that will cause your dog to stop and sit down in the trail
Swimming – Excellent dog paddling can be had on the banks of Carmans River
Restrictions On Dogs - Dogs are permitted on the park trails and in the campground
Southaven is the home of the Long Island Steamers. Since 1966 club members have kept the Steam Age in America alive by crafting precision models of steam boilers, steam-powered tractors and, most famously, its miniature steam railroad. The club has two operating track layouts, one of which is built entirely on sawed-off telephone poles. The steam-powered model trains can reach speeds of 25 mph but typically chug around the more than one mile of track at about 6 mph. Public run days scheduled for the second and last Sundays each month from the middle of May until the end of October provide passenger rides.
Theodore Roosevelt County Park
Phone - (631) 852-7878
Website - www.co.suffolk.ny.us/webtemp1.cfm?dept=10&id=888
Admission Fee - None
Directions – Montauk; on the north side of Montauk Highway, east of the Village past East Lake Drive. The nature trails aredown East Lake Drive on the right side of the road.
Deep Hollow Ranch was founded in 1658 and claims to be the birthplace of the American cowboy. There was no need to build fences; the Atlantic Ocean on the south and Block Island Sound to the north provided natural boundaries. For over 250 years cattle, sheep and horses grazed here - as many as 6,000 in peak years. The ranch is still operating today, moving past 350 years, offering trail rides. As late as the 1700s only three houses stood on the eastern tip of Long Island, spaced three miles apart. From west to east they were First House in Napeague that was to burn, Second House in Montauk and Third House that now houses park headquarters. In 1879 Arthur Bensen bought all the land from Napeague to Montauk Point and lived in Third House. He hoped to create a resort but when his plans failed he sold out to the federal government who built Camp Wikoff during the Spanish-American War and used Third House as its headquarters.
Theodore Roosevelt County Park maintains an extensive trail system but canine hikers are best served at the Big Reed Pond Nature Trails. Here, a triple-stacked loop of colored trails pile up almost three miles of first-rate hiking with your dog. This is one of the few interpretive trails on Long Island. The routes curve pleasingly with a few short hills thrown into the mix. Your dog will be sheltered the entire way, save for the open setting of a former Montaukett village site. The trail system trips through a succession of plant communities from tidal marshes to wet meadows to upland hickory forests to a recovering sand mine.
Where The Paw Meets The Earth: Natural sandy soil and dirt paths
Workout For Your Dog – The hiking is easy for your dog in Roosevelt Park so you may want to push further east past Big Reed Pond to adjacent natural areas
Swimming - Outer Beach behind the campground on Long Island Sound offers excellent dog paddling - you can hike down a service road to the beach. A small beach on Lake Montauk opposite the trailhead serves up superb doggie dips.
Restrictions On Dogs - Dogs are allowed on the trails and the in the camper-only campground
The east end of Long Island has some of the darkest night skies on the Northeast corridor. The Montauk Observatory, to be housed at Third House, has been designated the first “Dark Sky” park in Suffolk County. The revolutionary 20-inch Meade telescope in the park is the first of its kind deployed in the United States.
West Hills County Park
Phone - (631) 854-4423
Website - www.co.suffolk.ny.us/webtemp1.cfm?dept=10&id=872
Admission Fee - None
Directions – Melville; take Exit 49S off the Long Island Expressway and head north on Route 110. Make the immediate left on Gwynne Road after crossing the Northern State Parkway. Make the first right onto Sweet Hollow Road and the expansive parking lot at the dog run is on the right.
The Whitmans were a pioneering family in the West Hills and by the time Walter, the second of nine children, was born in Huntington on May 31, 1819 his ancestors had lived here for over one hundred and fifty years. Walt Whitman only lived in the family’s cedar shingle house until he was four years old when his father moved the clan to Brooklyn. But America’s “greatest poet” never lost his affection for the ancestral grounds and returned often. In 1850 he wrote, “West Hills is a romantic and beautiful spot.” In Whitman’s day, before the second-growth hardwood forest reclaimed the slopes, he could look to the shores of Connecticut in one direction and watch the packet ships off Fire Island in the other.
The marquee trail in the West Hills is -naturally- the white-blazed Walt Whitman Trail. Interlocked with the park’s blue-blazed route it forms a satisfying canine loop of about four miles. The highlight is the arrival at High Hill, later named Jayne’s Hill for a prominent land-owning family that is marked with a commemorative boulder to Whitman. The “hills” provide only sporadic challenges for any trail dog. Once you reach the pebbly dirt on the ridges the elevation gains are scarcely noticeable. This entire canine hike is conducted under the shaded canopy of hardwoods with a healthy understory of mountain laurel and dogwood.
Where The Paw Meets The Earth: Natural dirt footpaths
Workout For Your Dog – For additional trail time with your dog, head off down a panoply of unmarked side paths or cross Sweet Hollow Road for even more canine hiking
Swimming - Your dog may get a few strokes in Toad Pond, just east of Jayne’s Hill
Restrictions On Dogs - None
Highpointers are folks who seek to stand atop the highest point in each of the 50 states. Your dog can be a Highpointer too. She can’t complete all the peaks - there are places she can’t go legally or vertical mountains she can’t climb physically - but she can reach the roof of New York on 5,344-foot Mount Marcy south of Lake Placid. It is alot easier to scale the highpoint of Long Island - right here in West Hills County Park atop 400.9-foot Jayne’s Hill.