Family hikes on Long Island (for all skill levels) have saved us since the world closed down due to Covid-19. These family hikes on Long Island – and spending time outside in nature – have been spectacular for us. Not only do we get some exercise, but we get to see some beautiful scenery far away from other humans.
As our family hikes on Long Island evolved, we started to hunt for things like the biggest tree, the most random artifact, or something that does not belong. If you saw a deer, you won immediately.
When I say family hikes on Long Island for all skill levels, I probably mean nature walks. But you can decide. We are a family of five – with kids ages four, six and ten. This means none of the trails were very strenuous or with dramatic terrain.
While we enjoyed nature walks pre-Covid we never went regularly. Now we are addicts (after a summer hiatus because we do not like heat or bugs). We are so lucky to live in a place with so many trails and parks and so much natural beauty. I have enjoyed being a resource for others who want to spend some quality time outside. I hope with this guide of family hikes on Long Island, I can reach even more people.
Once you see the addiction is real, you may want to consider getting a small tripod. Selfies only go so far, and with a tripod you can hook it around anything and use your timer.
Easy Family Hikes with Water Views
Our most favorite attraction – whether it be a lake, river, or ocean. My personal preference is to walk in a loop around a lake, but you cannot beat a beachside stroll.
Jones Beach – Field 10
Field 10 is a beautiful place to take in the sunset on one of the boardwalks. During the winter, hiking down the beach and searching for seals is one of our favorite activities.
This is a great big place to walk. There are swans and lots of pretty stuff to look at for hours. We went in the winter and one of the pockets of sunken trees was covered in ice. It looked like a scene right out of Frozen 2.
The summer home of the 26th President of the United States – Teddy Roosevelt. A beautiful, easy loop trail that has a pretty bridge to cross and ends at a beautiful beach. Tours and programs are available inside the house and on the property as well, including a Jr. Ranger scavenger hunt that my son loved.
Wow! This place was amazing. It hit all of the exciting hike points – a slight elevation, logs bridges over streams, deer, swings on random tree limbs, and tons of places to stop and rest. The highlight was at the end – a GORGEOUS beach with a sandbar. You can walk across it and I guarantee you will feel like you’re on vacation. This may be my favorite hike on this list. Also, it is one where we got some of the best pictures.
This was one of the prettiest and most challenging hikes. By challenging, I mean there were narrow paths and some altitude. Funny enough, we went up the bluff to the trail, while our friends returned and went along the beach. Two completely different experiences observing this beautiful stretch of land. Definitely a place I would like to return to get a different perspective.
One of the most interesting combinations – cacti as you walked up to sand dunes sloping down to a beautiful beach. I felt like I was out West when we arrived. It was amazing, until my kids started screaming as they barreled down the sand cliffs – with screams of joy.
While this was not necessarily a hike, we went here on my birthday and it was really pretty. There were plenty of places to walk around and rocks to climb on at the water’s edge. Worth mentioning if you want to visit a pretty place, but not get too involved on a hike. Plus, this shirt is amazing so I kind of had to share this picture. Also, I’m a sucker for a picture where a kid has no front teeth.
This place was fantastic. Plus, it finally answered the question “what is that?” when we drive down to Jones Beach and see a pretty lake with lily pads . Know what I mean? Off the Wantagh Expressway. Lots of little spots to stop and fish or sit down and take a break.
Super Cool Long Island Graffiti Hikes
The ruined remains of a mansion once owned – but never occupied – by King Zod of Albania, is one of Long Island’s more beautiful places to search for nature and graffiti. While we got completely lost and never found the remains, it was a fun day. Plus, now a good excuse to go back and look again. The closest we got was the graffiti wall of the garden. I think we will return here once our Fall hikes resume. I want to find those darn ruins. *11/7/20 update. We went back & found them. Ahhh I feel so much better!*
Another one of my favorites. A completely unique hike – all on intertwining boardwalks – that end at a stunning lake (with giant turtles in it!). Around the lake were a few paths in different directions including one under a train trellis with some awesome graffiti. *10/23/20 update: sadly, the graffiti above has been painted over, but this is still my favorite “starter hike” park to send people.
The mother ship of graffiti hikes on Long Island. Not only an amazing place to see nature and/or water (which we did not see because the trail was too muddy), but it offers all kinds of interesting objects to enjoy. Most are covered in graffiti. If you are looking for a decent hike – again meaning like beginner 2 – and lots of great photo opportunities, this is the place for you. The graffiti was awesome.
Trees, Trees, and More Trees
A beautiful property where you will find trails as well as big open fields with sculptures and climbable trees. If you like art, they have very cool exhibits as well inside the museum and great family programs.
This was the first hike we took after the world closed in March. I do not know if it was because we were stir crazy or the sheer beauty of the 200+ year old 100+ feet pine trees, but I fell in love. A very short, easy loop trail with hidden teepees, fallen logs, and absolute perfection.
A huge, paved trail (with more rustic unpaved options) spanning from the north shore of Long Island all the way south to Jones Beach (via the Massapequa Preserve). Many stretches have parking lots so you can choose your own adventure for distance and terrain. Added bonus: I found tie dye berries!
Family Scavenger Hunt for Extra Credit Stuff
One of my favorite spots on Long Island. Also where we’ve enjoyed a “First Day Hike” for the last few years. Here they have a tree claiming to be the oldest on Long Island. They also have an old cemetery tucked in with some famous names – like Jones (of the beach fame).
While this hike was not so great, it had a few elements worth including on this list. There was some graffiti, including a tree that said “hell” with an arrow (that cracked me up). There was an abandoned, dilapidated, disintegrating car (which was huge with my boys). It is also has a small boat launch for the Nissequogue River. In fact, the river looked so great, it inspired us to buy an inflatable boat. The moment it arrived we returned. It was beautiful, we saw deer, but as new boaters we did not really understand about the tide. Fun fact for clueless boaters like us – it is a lot easier to go down this river than to come back. So make sure you check the tide charts first on a site like the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.
This huge park offers trails near and far from the water and all kinds of huge trees. You could probably spend a week here just walking around aimlessly. It also offers a small boat launch close to one of the parking lots. This was a much better place to take our boat. Unlike the tide situation above, this was more of a big, beautiful bathtub. Otherwise known as: exactly our speed.
We ended up here after a failed attempt to go to the beach (it was at capacity). While sprawling, beautiful looking hiking trails were in front of us, our beach attire kept us from exploring. What we did see were animals including goats (we love goats) and an osprey nest. We look forward to returning this fall for a proper hike.
While sadly there are no longer cranberries here, you will find an easy lake loop to walk around with a very pretty bridge.
This beautiful park has a huge lake and an easy, wide trail to follow. You will find some graffiti here and a big tunnel over pass where your kids can yell “echo”.
Family Hikes on Long Island: To Be Continued…
I hope this list has been helpful and that you save it for future use. I will update as we venture out more. The most important thing is – just GO! Get outside, walk around, enjoy the fresh air, and take some great family pictures. Don’t forget to bring water and 4,000 granola bars because your kids will be hungry every five minutes. Until we can go on a proper vacation, nature is all we have to keep us sane!