The Mint Chip Mama’s Family Hikes on Long Island (for All Skill Levels) – Part 2

3 kids on a hike in front of a sign that says "trail"

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.

More Family Hikes on Long Island, a little boy making a funny face and looking confused on a hike because of arrows
Shu Swamp Preserve

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.

More Family Hikes on Long Island, A mom & 3 kids in front of 2 signs on a hike
Manetto Hills Park

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

More Family Hikes on Long Island, 3 kids at Shu Swamp Preserve
Shu Swamp Preserve

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.

an owl pellet at Fox Hollow Preserve
Fox Hollow Preserve

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
Hempstead Lake State Park

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.

More Family Hikes on Long Island, 3 kids at Islin Preserve
Iselin Preserve

Hope Goddard Iselin Preserve – Another of the North Shore Land Alliance properties, this easy loop hike was perfect for a little after school exercise.

More Family Hikes on Long Island, A mom & daughter at Humes Preserve
Humes Preserve

Humes Preserve – Lots of native Long Island plants here on a very pretty trail with lots of historic significance. Another of the North Shore Land Alliance properties.

More Family Hikes on Long Island, 3 kids at Manetto Hills Park
Manetto Hills Park

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.

More Family Hikes on Long Island, 3 kids at Mill Pond Park
Mill Pond Park

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.

More Family Hikes on Long Island, 3 kids at Muttontown Preserve in front of King Zog's ruins
Muttontown Preserve – King Zog ruins

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!

a bat house at Plainview Park Trail
Plainview Park Trail

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.

a boy at Red Cote Preserve
Red Cote Preserve

Red Cote Preserve – Another North Shore Land Alliance property. This is a relatively flat hike that would be great for little kids. It’s a great place to see Long Island native plants.

a girl in front of an abandoned car on a hike - Stillwell Woods Preserve
Stillwell Woods Preserve

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.

More Family Hikes on Long Island, A mom and daughter at Sands Point Preserve
Sands Point Park & Preserve

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.

a woman standing in front of 2 old wheel spokes and graffiti
Tackapausha Nature Preserve

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

sunset at Belmont Lake State Park
Belmont Lake State Park

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.

3 kids sitting on a rock at Caumsett State Park
Caumsett State Park

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.

More Family Hikes on Long Island, a girl on a jetty at Connetquot State Park
Connetquot River State Park Preserve

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.

More Family Hikes on Long Island, 3 kids at the water's edge at Gardiner Park
Gardiner County Park

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.

More Family Hikes on Long Island, a sunset at Heckscher State Park
Heckscher State Park

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.

3 kids at Makamah Preserve
Makamah Nature Preserve

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.

a girl skipping in tires at San Souci Park
San Souci County Park

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.

More Family Hikes on Long Island, 3 kids at Target Rock Nature Preserve
Target Rock National Wildlife Refuge

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.

a boy at Wawapek Preserve
Wawapek Preserve

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.

A girl standing on top of the Walt Whitman rock on Jayne's Hill
Jayne’s Hill – West Hills County Park

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 Hillthe 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

A dad and 3 kids at the 2021 1 day of the year beach clean up at Hallock State Park.
Hallock State Park

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.

More Family Hikes on Long Island, 3 kids at Inlet Pond County Park in Greenport
Inlet Pond County Park

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

3 kids at King's Park Bluff
King’s Park Bluff

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.

More Family Hikes on Long Island, a mom and 3 kids at Lakeland County Park
Lakeland County Park

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.

a woman in between 2 graffiti paintings at Massapequa Preserve
Massapequa Preserve

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.

a girl on rollerblades at Trail View State Park on the Long Island Greenbelt Trail
Trail View State Park – Long Island Greenbelt Trail

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

Grand Rapids Course at Adventure Park Long Island
Grand Rapids Trail – Adventure Park Long Island

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.

Happy hiking!

Trail View State Park – Long Island Greenbelt Trail

Published by Stacey Wallenstein

Stacey Gish Wallenstein created The Mint Chip Mama blog in 2013 to share her love and passion for giving children meaningful life experiences and helping moms like her navigate the challenges and benefits of raising children in the New York metropolitan area. Before becoming a full-time mom in 2010, Stacey spent the better part of the preceding decade as a high-end customer relationship management (CRM) professional for some of the most well-known brands in the hotel, luxury, fashion, and beauty industries, such as Harrah’s Entertainment, Chanel and Christian Dior, Inc. She managed customer loyalty programs for thousands of clients around the country and created social media strategies for a span of industries including healthcare services, restaurants, consumer packaged goods, specialty foods, local attractions and retail locations. After 13 wonderful years in Manhattan (the last three of which spent as a city mom), Stacey and her husband moved to Long Island in 2014, where they now reside with their three children (11, 8, and 5). There, she is a founding member of her local Parenting Center, which provides classes and coordinates events designed to educate and inform parents while fostering an environment of support and friendship within the community. Stacey is also an active PTA member ((including a former & current PTA president) as well as a Girl Scout troop leader. Her musings on motherhood, Manhattan, the suburbs, and more can be found here and on Facebook at The Mint Chip Mama. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Stacey has been active in the New York area alumni organization for nearly twenty years, serving as a board member on the school’s University of Michigan Alumni Club of New York City. She also holds a Masters in Psychology from The New School in New York City. For more updates, follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

2 thoughts on “The Mint Chip Mama’s Family Hikes on Long Island (for All Skill Levels) – Part 2

%d bloggers like this: