One of the East End’s greatest attractions is its natural beauty—from wondrous woodlands to rare flora and fauna—the region’s many hiking trails are a perfect way to experience it all up close while getting in some good exercise. You can also get a taste of the region’s history, including the low down on East Hampton’s own ghost town. Now that the summer tourists are gone, it’s as good a time as any to take advantage of all that nature has to offer, especially while it’s still pretty warm outside. Here’s a selection of eight places you’ll definitely want to plant your footsteps.
Inlet Pond County Park, Southold
Take a 1.5-mile walk through hardwood forest, maritime wood by a freshwater pond and along the Long Island Sound beachfront—all on 50 acres of preserved parkland cared for by the North Fork Audubon Society. Go.
Long Island Pine Barrens Trail
Explore the nation’s second-largest pine barrens through a 47-mile route from Rocky Point to Shinnecock Canal, traversing pristine woodlands and passing rare coastal plan ponds. A written permit is required. Go.
Mashomack Preserve Hiking Trail, Shelter Island
This 2,039-acre preserve has something for every hiker, with 1.5-, 3-, 6- and 10-mile loop trails that wind through oak-hickory forest, across open fields, beside ponds and marshes. The 10-miler will bring you to vistas of Gardiner’s Bay, while the 1.5-mile red trail has stops along the way with QR-code enabled information hubs that allow visitors to listen about the area’s history, flora and fauna. Additionally, the preserve has a 1-mile wheelchair and stroller-friendly trail and ⅛-mile Braille boardwalk. Go.
Montauk Point State Park, Montauk
At the Island’s eastern tip, visitors are presented with stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean where it meets the Block Island Sound and a peek at the neighboring majestic Montauk Lighthouse. The nature trails can be used for hiking, cross-country skiing or watching the seals sun on the rocks offshore from November to April. Go.
Northwest Settlement Ghost Town Hike, Northwest Harbor
Bring some friends for a self-guided tour of East Hampton’s own ghost town. The 3-mile marked trek brings you to significant spots in the town’s first port. Northwest flourished as a port from 1653 until 1761. It lasted 150 years as a settlement from 1730 until 1885. Find out what happened on your own in a visit to the now-abandoned area, passing by ponds, woods, the shoreline and hints of fields. Go.
Quogue Wildlife Refuge, Quogue
The 305-acre refuge is home to three trails (.8 miles, 1.4 miles and 3 miles) with connecting trails that add up to more than 7 miles of hiking opportunity through pine barrens land. The shortest trail goes around a pond where you can also find a nature center. Keep an eye out for hawks, fox, bald eagles and more. Go.
Red Creek Park, Hampton Bays
In a 3.8-mile loop winding through pitch pine woods mixed with oak, maple and tupelo, trail-goers can view red-tailed hawk, blue heron, kettle holes, deer and monarch butterflies. Go.
Shadmoor State Park, Montauk
The 99-acre park, located just east of Montauk Village, has a trail that climbs from the parking area off Route 27 into a wooded area of shadbush, black cherry, arrow-wood, honeysuckle and other woody shrubs and small trees leading to the bluffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It has elevated platforms for birdwatching and enjoying the shoreline views. Go.