10 communities with the most parkland on Long Island

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With miles and miles of shorefront on both the Atlantic Ocean and the Long Island Sound, it’s no surprise that most of the parks on Long Island are of the waterfront variety. 
Here are the communities with the largest amount of state parkland. Many of these towns, villages and hamlets provide many other additional spots to relax. 

1. Montauk

Aerial view of the Montauk Lighthouse. photo by
(Credit: Doug Kuntz)

With seven state parks, county parkland and a preserve, Montauk tops the list of communities with the most parkland — in total, about 6,700 acres. Aside from Montauk Point, which features the historic 1796 lighthouse, Montauk’s collection of open space run by the state includes Hither Hills, with a 189-site campground on the ocean, and the adjacent Hither Woods Preserve, with a popular mountain bike trail; Camp Hero, which has a former military base that is registered as a National Historic Site; Shadmoor, with two stairways leading to 2,400 feet of beach; and the 18-hole Montauk Downs State Park golf course. Montauk is also home to an underground park, the site of the wreck of the HMS Culloden, a British ship that ran aground in 1781 at the tip of a peninsula now called Culloden Point, and a more than 1,100-acre county park, located just northwest of the Montauk Airport. The Town of East Hampton also runs Ditch Plains, Gin Beach and Kirk Park Beach.

2. Oakdale

Fall foliage just starts to change, at Main
(Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara)

The Connetquot River State Park Preserve here and in neighboring Bohemia is made up of nearly 3,500 acres of protected open space, with 50 miles of hiking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing and nature trails. Fishing is also allowed on the river with a permit. The Bayard Cutting Arboretum, on the former estate of William Bayard Cutting and also on the Connetquot River, is more focused on the landscape and architecture, with tours of the arboretum and historic home. The hamlet’s Byron Lake Park has two swimming pools, including one with a water slide, a picnic area and a playground. All told, there are about 4,200 acres of parkland.

3. Wantagh

Frank Abruzzese of Merrick enjoys his afternoon fishing
(Credit: Barry Sloan)

This South Shore hamlet is known as the Gateway to Jones Beach, with access to more than 6 miles of ocean beach and a 2-mile boardwalk, along with the half-mile Zachs Bay. There are about 2,600 acres of parkland in Wantagh. Aside from the 2,400-acre beach, the community also has 111-acre Wantagh Park, with six pools, picnic areas, a playground and baseball and softball fields, and Forest City Community Park, with a swimming pool, playground and picnic areas. While the ocean is the prime draw, there are two other waterfront parks in Wantagh — the 58-acre Twin Lakes Preserve and the 54-acre Mill Pond Preserve.

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4. East Islip

Canada geese block bicyclists at Heckscher State Park
(Credit: James Carbone)

The state, with the help of then-Gov. Alfred E. Smith, purchased the 19th-century estates of George Taylor and J. Neal Plum to create Heckscher State Park, which opened in 1929. The 1,600-acre park has picnic areas, sports fields and 4 miles of trails, along with views of, and access to, the Great South Bay. 

5. Wading River

The snack stand at Wildwood State Park is
(Credit: Johnny Milano)

The nearly 800-acre Wildwood State Park is a popular campground, as well as a place for hiking, with thick forests leading to a dramatic bluff overlooking the Long Island Sound, where there is also a beach. The hamlet is also home to Brookhaven State Park, more than 1,600 acres on the former property of the Brookhaven National Laboratory. All together, that’s about 2,300 acres of parkland.

6. Babylon

Keith Nickel and Deb Marchese appreciate a full
(Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara)

Nassau County residents have Jones Beach, while in Suffolk there’s Robert Moses State Park, which faces both the ocean and the Fire Island Inlet. Aside from the beach, there’s also a pitch and putt golf course, a picnic area with a gazebo and a boat basin, as well as a 3/4-mile trail to the Fire Island Lighthouse. There’s also Gilgo State Park, a 1,200-acre wild, undeveloped park. The town also runs Overlook, Gilgo and Cedar beaches, all further west on a separate barrier island that eventually links up with Jones Beach. In total, there are about 2,100 acres of parkland.

7. Lloyd Harbor

A couple of cyclists ride on a trail
(Credit: Daniel Brennan)

New York State acquired the former waterfront estate of department store heir Marshall Field III in 1961 and turned it into the Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve. Aside from miles of trails, the property holds the Henry Lloyd Manor house, built in 1711 and run by the Lloyd Harbor Historical Society. A few miles south is Lloyd Harbor Village park, with swimming in Oyster Bay, tennis courts and boating. The Town of Huntington also runs West Neck Beach, with 1,140 feet on Cold Spring Harbor. There’s also the Target Rock National Wildlife Refuge, formerly the 80-acre estate of banker Ferdinand Eberstadt. All told, there is more than 1,500 acres of parkland.

8. Farmingdale

SNAG A TEE TIME AT BETHPAGE BLACK How
(Credit: Steve Pfost)

This village is home to Bethpage State Park, a nearly 1,500-acre property famous for its five golf courses, including the Black Course, which hosted the U.S. Open Championship in 2002 and 2009. The park also has a restaurant, picnic areas, tennis courts, sports fields, bridle paths and hiking trails. A couple of miles south is the much smaller 16-acre Allen Ellsworth Park, which has playgrounds and sports courts, plus an area with sprinklers. 

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9. Kings Park

A group of runners run along a trail
(Credit: Daniel Brennan)

The draw here is Sunken Meadow State Park, with 3 miles of beach on the Sound and a 3/4-mile boardwalk, along with a launching area for water sports. It also holds the northern terminus of the Long Island Greenbelt hiking trail and a 27-hole golf course. To the east is Nissequogue River State Park, which hosts hiking and fishing, along with a state bird conservation area, a soccer field and a canoe and kayak launch. Together, the parks amount to about 1,400 acres in the community.

10. West Hempstead

The fall foliage in Hempstead State Lake Park
(Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

This hamlet, which is undergoing a spate of new development, holds the more than 775-acre Hempstead Lake State Park, which is home to the largest lake in Nassau County, along with three ponds, all of which can be used for fishing. The park has 20 tennis courts, trails for biking, hiking and horseback riding, and a historic carousel. Farther west is the smaller, 11-acre Halls Pond Park, which features a 5.5-acre pond with a walkway, bordered by woods. When it’s not outdoor weather, there’s also the Echo Park indoor pool, run by the Town of Hempstead.

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