HomeLong Island Waterfront Walking Trails

Long Island Waterfront Walking Trails

Lace up your waterfront walking shoes. On a Long Island hike this fall, there’s water and water everywhere, not just in your canteen. Hiking trails in local parks and reserves offer refreshing trail and trail-end views of scenic lakes and rivers, idyllic ponds, choppy Atlantic surf, and even some bubbling waterfalls.

Be sure to follow any posted COVID-19 guidelines and watch out for ticks by wearing protective clothing and checking your skin after hiking.

the lake

Twin Lakes Reserve, production

• Free admission

• Park Avenue entrance west of the Parkway production road

• Open all year round from dawn to dusk

• 516-431-9200, hempsteadny.gov

You may have seen Twin Lakes while driving past the reserve at Wantagh State Parkway. But you can also do some Tom Sawyer-like exploration of the 58-acre state-owned and operated land of Hempstead. The forest trail passes three lakes, a man-made waterfall, freshwater wetlands, and pastures. You can catch trout that are stocked in the fall. (A New York State freshwater fishing license is required; dec.ny.gov/permits).

Hempstead Lake State Park

• 1000 Lake Drive, West Hempstead

• Open Saturdays, Sundays and holidays until Columbus Day

• $2 entry

• 516-766-1029, parks.ny.gov/parks/hempsteadlake

The popular park provides an easy starting outing for families with kids and dogs – you’ll need to tie the puppies. The trail runs around Lake Hempstead – the largest lake in Nassau County – and the smaller McDonald and South Ponds. Kids can spend their day fishing or ride the hand-carved historical wooden whirlpool.

Belmont Lake State Park

• Southern State Parkway, Exit 38, North Babylon

• 631-667-5055, parks.ny.gov

The multi-use trails of Belmont Lake, which is 7.6 miles long, feature an unexpected sight: two Champiter waterfalls. The most famous waterfall is located at the southern end of the scenic lake where ducks frolic and the fallen foliage glows in red, orange and yellow. The water drops over the rocks and under a footbridge before feeding the Karls River on its way into the bay. Deep in the woods on a park trail, Little Falls rushes over a rocky riverbed under a wooden footbridge. Instagram, anyone?

long island sound

Sunken Meadow State Park

• Dog friendly trail

• Take the Sunken Meadow State Parkway exit SM4E to Pulaski Road east and continue east to Old Dock Road

• Free parking and driveway entrance on the west side of Old Dock Road

• 631-269-4333, parks.ny.gov

This hike is a coastal thing for you and your canine companion. On the undeveloped eastern end of the 1,287-acre park, you can traverse a thickly wooded, sometimes steep, and rocky hillside trail that edges the bluffs towering over Long Island Sound. Two sunny lawns allow for rest and rehydration before descending through the ditches to Long Island Sound Beach.

Sagamore Hill

• 20 Sagamore Hill Rd, Oyster Bay

Entrance trail behind Old Orchard Museum

Teddy Roosevelt was a passionate hiker who often walked to his swimming hole in his home. Today’s hikers can follow Teddy’s footsteps on the dirt trail through the tulip tree forest, over the trail running across Elle Creek Bay, to the beach on the sailboat-packed Cold Spring Harbor. Swimming is not allowed, but dogs can walk with you. You’ll also get additional views of the 3,209-acre Oyster Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

ocean view

Shadmore State Park

• 900 Montauk Hwy. , Montauk

• 631-668-3781, parks.ny.gov

Roosevelt’s Run Trail, which winds through 99-acre Shadmoor State Park, opens at one point to a dazzling seascape: blue skies, rocky ocean bluffs and 2,400 feet of sparkling ocean beach accessed by two stairs. To the east, you can see the village of Montauk. Another trail leads to Ditch Plains Beach for surfers. Also of note is the deserted lane of WWII-era bunkers that protected the coast with artillery.


Bayard cutting nursery

• 440 Montauk Hwy. the great river

• Closed on Mondays, $8 parking fee is charged on weekends and holidays through November

• 631-581-1002, bayardcuttingarboretum.com

A side trip to see the variety of dwarf pines planted last fall is another reason to walk the river along a wide stretch of Connetquot, one of Long Island’s longest rivers. Keep your eyes peeled for the birds – blue herons, egrets, and American bald eagles – and the native plant group (cattles, elderberries, cranberries) on Breezy Island at the end of the riverwalk. Return to the historic home for pie at Hidden Oak Cafe.