Best spots for fall foliage on Long Island

Autumn foliage coming into bloom at the Massapequa

Autumn foliage coming into bloom at the Massapequa Preserve. (Oct. 17, 2010) (Credit: Kevin P Coughlin)

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Although recent days have been warm enough to get us back into a summer frame of mind, it really is fall foliage season. Trees are beginning to turn all across the Island, and between now and the end of October, they'll reach their peak. Whether you're looking for a new place to go, or just want to revisit a favorite, here are some great spots to catch fall color.

TAKE A HIKE

Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve

WHEN | WHERE Sunrise to sunset, 25 Lloyd Harbor Rd., Huntington

INFO 631-423-1770, nysparks.com/parks/23/details.aspxg

ADMISSION $8 a car daily through Columbus Day, then weekends and holidays through Nov. 24.

With 1,600 acres of woods, meadows and freshwater areas, Caumsett is lush and varied. Maples, tulips, hickorys, sassafras and dogwoods are among the trees along the park's 27 miles of trails.

Stroll along paved walkways and wide dirt paths through the woods. And, the views are spectacular, even though the trees have only a touch of color.

"With all the different trees and vegetation, you'll always see something different when you come to the park," says park manager Len Krauss.

Be sure to visit the Marshall Field III mansion. Walk around back, grab a seat and enjoy the reflections in the freshwater pond at the bottom of a sloping hill. Indeed, it's a magnificent vista, with vibrant colors reflected on the pond. The 1 1 / 2-mile walk to that view also is worth lingering over. With benches all along the path, taking a break to admire the scenery is almost mandatory.

ALSO TRY

Bailey Arboretum in Lattingtown has 40 acres of woods, ponds and gardens. "We have two humongous ponds on the property, and the woodland hiking trails are phenomenal for photos," says Michael Maron, Bailey's superintendent. Dogs on leash are welcome on the trails (free admission, 516-801-1458, baileyarboretum.org).

ON A BIKE

Massapequa Preserve

WHEN | WHERE Dawn to dusk, begins at Merrick Road and Ocean Avenue, Massapequa Park

INFO 516-571-7443

ADMISSION Free

An excellent place to experience fall foliage is along the well-maintained paths of the Massapequa Preserve, which includes part of the Bethpage Multiuse Path. Its 2.5 miles of paved pathway is complemented by dirt trails. If you want a longer trip, the Bethpage Multiuse Path extends from Massapequa Preserve to Woodbury, covering about 7 miles.

"Whenever I'm stressed, I come in here and take a break," says Maryann Lapolla, 60, of Massapequa, who just received a bike as a gift. "You see wildlife like chipmunks, squirrels, birds, ducks. There are benches where you can stop and take a break or just look at the scenery."

ALSO TRY

If you're on the North Fork, a particularly scenic route can be found along Peconic Bay Boulevard from Riverhead to Mattituck. It's about 12 1/2 miles along a two-lane back road. In addition to being less traveled, this route meanders past the Peconic River and a couple of parks, where you can take a pit stop and appreciate the views.

TAKE A DRIVE

If you're using four wheels, definitely put Route 25A heading east from Route 107 on your itinerary. This heavily wooded drive passes through Cold Spring Harbor, where there's ample parking to allow a nice view of the harbor and its surrounding trees -- plus shops and restaurants. If you continue along Route 25A to Stony Brook, a payoff awaits at Avalon Park (631-689-0619, avalonparkandpreserve.org), where you can stroll, bike and otherwise explore the terrain. "We have a great variety of trees here, native and nonnative," says staffer Rebecca Kassay. "Our fall colors range from yellow to deep reds and oranges."

In the park are boardwalks, stone steps and gravel and paved paths. Although the adjoining preserve is all dirt paths, they are well maintained. Go to the Shep Jones Lane entrance off Harbor Road, where there is ample parking.

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