New Year’s resolutions are an annual tradition and, yet, often difficult to maintain. In 2019, kick off a new resolution right away with the nationwide trend known as “First Day Hikes”. Dedicate yourself to hiking more in the New Year by starting on Day #1. The “First Day Hike” movement was created by the America’s State Parks organization in order to raise awareness of the benefits of being outside, even in the winter! On January 1st, 2018, more than 55,000 people participated in this New Year’s hike and we hope you are one of these people this year! Hiking is not only fun, but has major health benefits. These include lowering the risk of heart disease, strengthening one’s core, improving blood pressure and weight loss. Perhaps, most importantly, however, hiking offers the chance for friendship! On Long Island, a number of guided group hikes are scheduled for January 1st, 2019 for those in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
Scheduled First Day Hikes
Ridge Conservation Area, Suffolk County: Starting at 1 pm, the 2.25 mile hike around the Ridge Conservation Area will give hikers a great collective experience of Eastern Suffolk County’s environment. The hike features 14 interpretive posts describing forest, grassland and pond habitats. The interpretive trail hike will provide scenic viewing locations and be completely guided. For more information, reach out to the hike’s guide, David Pomeranz, at firstname.lastname@example.org. The conservation area is located at 484 Randall Rd, Ridge, NY 11961.
Connetquot River State Park Preserve, Suffolk County: Starting at 1:30pm at the park’s Main House, this hike will offer great scenic views along a 2.5 mile trail. Guided by the State Parks Department, participants will a knowledgeable and relaxing walk near the beautiful Connetquot River. Registration can be made at 631-581-1072. The park is located at 3525 Sunrise Hwy, Oakdale, NY 11769.
Bethpage State Park, Nassau County: Starting at 10 am, Nassau County residents can welcome the New Year at Bethpage State Park. A 5 mile hike will offer the opportunity for hikers to see signs of rabbits, hawks, fox and owls along the trail. The group meet-up will be at the park’s Picnic area parking lot by rest rooms. For more information about this hike, feel free to contact 516-249-3560. The park is located at 99 Quaker Meeting House Rd, Farmingdale, NY 11735.
Hiking on your Own?
For those wishing to hike on their own for the day or throughout 2019, the Long Island Pine Barrens is a great site for hiking. With more than two dozen preserves within its jurisdiction alone, the Long Island Pine Barrens has a plethora of hiking trails. And with no bears or poisonous snakes on Long Island, the Long Island Pine Barrens is a hiking haven! However, with some many hiking options, we, at the Pine Barrens Society, thought you might need some tips for your First Day Hike on January 1st.
Some of the best hiking locations in the State of New York are right here in the Long Island Pine Barrens:
- The Paumanok Path:
No hiking list would be complete without mentioning the 125 mile Paumanok Path. While “First Day Hike” strives to include everyone – expert hiker and first time hiker alike – in the joys of hiking, the Paumanok Path should only be completed by the most prepared of hikers. Spanning from Rocky Point to Montauk, the Paumanok Path is nicknamed “Long Island’s Appalachian Trail”. In fact, only one person has ever been able to complete the entirety of the Paumanok Path…and it took six days! However, those not willing to invest six days into the hike can still enjoy the Paumanok Path as many of the Pine Barrens’ trails follow the Paumanok Path
- Rocky Point Preserve:
For those interested in a soothing day-long hike, the Rocky Point Preserve is a perfect candidate. At eleven miles, the Rocky Point Preserve offers a scenic view of an essential part of the Pine Barrens. At 5,000 acres, the Rocky Point Preserve is a large home for an abundant supply of wildlife so don’t be surprised if you have spectators while hiking. The other added benefit – your dog is allowed to join you on this hike.
Directions – The parking area for the preserve and the western terminus of the Paumanok Path lies on the south side of NY 25A in Rocky Point, 0.6 mile east of the junction with NY 25A and North Country/ County Road 20 and 0.4 mile west of Rocky Point– Yaphank Road/County Route 21.
- Hubbard County Park:
Hubbard County Park is the perfect place for learning about human and geological history while hiking. At 2.6 miles, the Hubbard County Park hiking trail provides a short trip through the Pine Barrens, a trip that is decorated by Flanders Bay, a historic building known as the Black Duck Lodge and a “Ghost Forest”. The Ghost Forest refers to a series of sunken stumps that were once Atlantic White Cedars when sea levels were lower – a perfect photo opportunity. Black Duck Lodge, on the other hand, is a 19th century farmstead that was later converted to a hunting lodge for wealthy financier E.F. Hutton. If you get tired during your hike, don’t forget to relax near the scenic Owl Pond, ringed with sweet gale, leatherleaf, swamp azalea and other wetlands shrubs
Directions – From NY 27 Exit 65, go north about two miles on NY 24 to Red Creek Road. Park alongside RC Road in one of the many pull-off spots and walk the 1/5 of a mile in to the Black Duck Lodge.4. Westhampton Dwarf Pine Plains:
If you are hiking on the first day of the year, why not see a global rarity? The Dwarf Pine Plains is only one of three such areas, the other two being found in the New Jersey Pine Barrens and Ulster County’s Shawangunk Mountains. Characterized by trees of no more than six feet and the poor soil that stunt their growth, Dwarf Pine Plains are an ecological marvel. It is Long Islanders’ good fortune to have this marvel accessible year round to explore. For hikers, the Dwarf Pine Plains offers two trails to try – one trail on the west side of County Route 31 and an interpretive loop on the east side.
Directions – Take Route 27 (Sunrise Highway) to Exit 63. At the southwest corner of the interchange, pull off immediately into an unpaved clearing just beyond the shoulder. Alternately, parking is available across the road at a Suffolk County Water Authority building adjacent to the interpretive loop. For the west-side loop, locate an unmarked trail at the south end of the dirt parking area and heading south parallel to C.R. 31. The path extends a quarter mile to the side yard of a small commercial building. Turn right, and at the rear of the property a wide, straight trail heading northwest lures hikers into the heart of the Dwarf Pines.
With these great examples of hiking on Long Island, we hope you can go out and take full advantage of the Long Island Pine Barrens’ offerings. Exercise, fresh air and relaxation. Start your New Year’s with all three by going hiking on January 1st. Overall, all of us at the Pine Barrens Society wishes you a Happy and safe holiday season, New Year’s and hiking outing!