As I said last year in my first hiking post, family hikes on Long Island have saved us since the world closed due to Covid-19. I still agree that these family hikes – and spending time outside in nature – have preserved our sanity. It’s the perfect marriage of exercise, enjoying beautiful scenery, and being far away from other humans.
Similarly, like my first hiking post, these family hikes on Long Island are for all skill levels and probably more nature walks than hikes. We are a family of five – with kids ages five, seven and eleven. If you also have small kids – any of these will work perfectly for you. This means the trails are not very strenuous or with dramatic terrain.
Finally, we continued to use our little tripod to take family pictures. It’s a great addition to your hiking back pack.
More Family Hikes on Long Island: Nassau County Hikes
Charles T. Church/Shu Swamp Nature Preserve – One of our favorite hikes this year. Partly because it was beautiful and partly because of the company. We can safely say we got very lost in these woods, but at every turn there was so much beauty it made it all worth it. This is one of North Shore Land Alliance‘s many properties I’ve come to love.
Fox Hollow Preserve – This preserve is all woods and very pretty. The highlight was finding an owl pellet the same week my son was learning about them in school. This is one of the many North Shore Land Alliance properties.
Hempstead Lake State Park – Another big lake to walk around. It was very pretty and allowed me to channel my inner Salvador Dali. Definitely a great place to visit if you are going for a “walking around a lake” vs. hiking on a trail vibe. I believe the park is actually very big and has lots of other trails but we just focused on the lake.
Manetto Hills Park – One of my favorite finds this year. This park is cool because it’s so hidden. No marker, no sign, you just see a little opening on Washington Ave in Plainview heading North – just past the Northern State Parkway. A great place to get lost in the woods. It also has a few surprises like some fun signs added in by a local boy scout troop.
Mill Pond Park – A very pretty & relatively small park with a big pond. The walk around the pond is short and easy and it is a beautiful spot to spend some time. Plus there’s a gazebo, small waterfall, and lots of ducks.
Muttontown Preserve – While technically this should be under the “Repeat Favorites” section below, I do not count our previous hike last year successful as we did not find the fabled King Zog ruins. This time we did! There are now spray painted markers (on trees) with arrows directing you to find them. This would have been helpful had we come in that way… but we found them nonetheless and they were really cool!
Plainview Park Trail – Very small but pretty. The perfect spot to get in some exercise while one of your kids is playing a ball game on the baseball or softball field. When I was growing up someone scared my 4th grade class (at our class picnic) into thinking Ninjas lived in these woods. It took me thirty years to get up the courage to see that was not -in fact – true. However, you may find bats thanks to a local Boy Scout Troop bat house installation. I can’t find any information on this trail so to find it follow the path behind the softball field all the way up to the top. The trail links around to the tennis courts.
Stillwell Woods Preserve – Nice if you’re on foot, better if you’re on a bike. This was a pretty hike but we felt like we either took the wrong trail or we should have been on wheels. Most people here were riding their bikes. Lots of trails, and lots of parking. Plus some fun random abandoned stuff to see.
Sand Point Park and Preserve – A beautiful and expansive property – once the Guggenheim Estate from Great Gatsby‘s “East Egg” fame. It has everything you’d want in a hike – tons of trails, bridges, water, and old mansions. There is also a playground. It is a very famous place for good reason and a great place to visit. They have programs going on all year and an annual membership if you plan to go multiple times. This is one of the only hikes on my lists that has a year round admission (parking) fee.
Tackapausha Nature Preserve – A bit over grown when we visited but an interesting walk with fun graffiti to find. It’s spread over a few areas so you have to cross the street and choose your own adventure.
More Family Hikes on Long Island: Suffolk County Hikes
Belmont Lake State Park – As the title would suggest – there’s a big lake. It is beautiful with a nice walk around it. We took family pictures here many years ago shortly after we moved to Long Island so this park holds a special place in my heart. Once again – a great place to visit at sunset.
Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve – Another park that sometimes fills to capacity in the high season – this park is huge and you could spend a month exploring it. We went for a beach cleanup and got to see the north tip of the beautiful park. This would be a great park to bring a picnic and spend your day enjoying.
Connetquot River State Park Preserve – Many speak of the beauty of this park and now we see why. There are so many beautiful trails here, water, animals, bridges, sculptures, jettys, etc.
Gardiner County Park – This was an interesting park with a long trail heading straight down to the water. There was lots to see and many smaller paths heading in different directions, but if you went straight you were afforded a gorgeous beach view. The landscape looked foreign to me and for a moment I pretended to be on the Scottish Plaines.
Heckscher State Park – A huge park with a ton of different areas to hike, bike, and enjoy a day by the water. This is a spot where you can bring lunch and spend the whole day just exploring around the space.
Makamah Nature Preserve – A great hike with lots of (easy) inclines perfect for a family who wants a little more of a hike but is accompanied by people who have small legs.
San Souci County Park – A beautiful park with lots of trails. Kids can find some special things hiding in the ground too to excite them. We liked winding around and around here, finding water, teepees, and pipes to balance on and sit.
Target Rock National Wildlife Refuge – Another of the “hot ticket” parks (aka the parking lot fills up in the summer), we decided to return at an off peak time after being turned away last year. We came on a weekday after school and were the only people there (yay!). It was so beautiful and there was so much to see. This is a hike offering a great aerial view that winds down to the water. We went during the holidays as a (planned) surprise for my kids the day after we gave them binoculars as a present. We also saw a deer.
Wawapek Preserve – Hidden up in Cold Spring Harbor, this is a nice and relatively short hike. It opens into a big field with a beautiful wooden trellis – sure to be a crowd pleaser for the kids. This is another North Shore Land Alliance property.
West Hills County Park – As the name implies, it’s hilly. A pretty straightforward hike that was easy enough but also a bit more challenging than others because of the inclines. Very nice with some nice views. Home of the famous Jayne’s Hill – the highest point on Long Island. This is a pretty cool landmark with a quote from Walt Whitman’s Paumanok poem on the boulder landmark.
More Family Hikes on Long Island: North Fork of Suffolk County
Hallock State Park Preserve – we did a beach cleanup here on January 1st to kick off the new year. Lots of pretty trails in different directions, but we focused on the path that got us down to the beach. It was a nice hill so it was a good work out.
Inlet Pond County Park – The Eastern most park on my lists, this gorgeous hike is in Greenport, were we love to go in the summer. This is a pretty easy hike that at points goes along the shore giving you beautiful views of the Long Island Sound. Great boulders for the kids to climb on, lots of fun stuff. Just beware – lots of ticks out there.
Repeat Favorites – Hikes to Visit Each Season
King’s Park Bluff/Sunken Meadow State Park – I was so glad to return to this park – one of our favorite and first hikes last year. This time we found a trail that went from the top of the bluff down to the water and we walked back along the water. It was the perfect marriage of fire & ice. Or mountain and water… This park is so beautiful and special.
Lakeland County Park – Probably our favorite hike. We have visited this park multiple times and recommended it to everyone who has requested a good place to start on their hiking journey. It is so special and offers so many things for the senses even the whiniest of children will love it. This is a great spot to visit each season. It is so unique and beautiful. Every time we go there are changes, it is different every time. Lots of graffiti as well. You will also most likely see some animals – turtles, otters, ducks, etc. If you go no where else from these posts – just go here.
Massapequa Preserve – Beautiful in all seasons, and guaranteed to show you different paths with each visit. A large park with many different trails where you can choose a different adventure each time.
Trail View State Park – Many different trail legs in each direction from North to South on the Nassau/Suffolk border. You can go up to Cold Spring Harbor and down to Jones Beach. We go on these trails regularly and find new things to see each time. Each leg offers a different experience and is filled with great flowers, trees, and foliage. We are so grateful this trail is practically in our backyard. It also offers paved and unpaved sections to make it whatever level you’re looking for at that moment.
When You’re Sick of Hiking On the Ground
Hiking in the Air – If you’re looking for another type of adventure, we suggest an aerial “hike” at Adventure Park Long Island! Instead of hiking on the ground, hike in the trees! We love it here so much. It’s a really fun way to be outside and get some great exercise in a super fun way. I’m going to be honest with you – I love it as much as my kids. So when they ask to go it’s not a hard sell. I especially love their Firepit Fridays (how we annually celebrate my son’s birthday).
Family Hikes on Long Island: To Be Continued AGAIN…
I hope this list has been helpful and given you some inspiration to get out and hike with your family on Long Island. The most important thing is – just GO! Get outside, walk around, and enjoy the fresh air. Look for frogs and turtles, find new creatures, and watch them in their own homes. Don’t forget to bring water and snacks because your kids are guaranteed to get hungry the moment you back off the driveway. Which is not a good way to start your fun day.