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Guided nature walks on Long Island great for families

Discover the sights and sounds of the 51-acre Downs Farm Preserve in Cutchogue beneath the moonlight on a 1-mile hike through the woods offered by the Group for the East End, a Southold nonprofit. With a little luck, you might even hear or see an owl. (Credit: Kendall Rodriguez)

While there are still a fair number of colorful leaves on the trees, they’ll be dropping soon. That’s just another indication that you had best get out and enjoy the great outdoors before it gets much colder. One of the best ways is to head out on a guided nature walk. Here are a few by theme.


WHAT “This is one really cool place,” says environmental educator Miles Todaro, who leads the milelong loop trail through the Walking Dunes in Napeague, a set of nearly 60-foot-tall sand dunes on the north side of Hither Hills State Park that are slowly but constantly being blown to the southeast and covering forest lands in the process. You’ll see trees being swallowed alive by sand, a phantom forest in the wake of the dunes, plus a great scenic view of Napeague Harbor. You’ll also learn how and why the dunes “walk” across the landscape, and actually see the effects firsthand.

WHEN | WHERE 10:30 a.m. Nov. 10 at Hither Hills State Park, 164 Old Montauk Hwy., Montauk

KEEP IN MIND Children 8 and older can participate. This is the first Walking Dunes hike provided by the South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center in Bridgehampton, but more may be added to the schedule. Todaro recommends wearing hiking boots or comfortable sneakers. Ticks and mosquitoes shouldn’t be a serious problem in November, but bring appropriate bug spray just in case, he says.

INFO Free. The museum offers a variety of guided hikes throughout the year, including Tree Identification on Nov. 10, Full Frost Moon on Nov. 12, and Make a Bird Feeder / Bird Watching on Nov. 23. Reservations are required at by calling 631-537-9735 or writing to For more information, go to


WHAT This is one of several guided nature walks in the Enhance Your Eco-Literacy hiking series offered at the Sands Point Preserve Conservancy. This hourlong walk focuses on the magnificent patterns, colors, shapes, and textures of fall. You’ll match nuts with their host trees, learn common characteristics that distinguish families of trees, and use clues such as leaf structures and arrangements, nuts and fruit, bark characteristics, smell and texture to identify trees ranging from maple, oak, birch and beech to hickory, ash, cherry and tulip trees.

WHEN | WHERE 3 to 5 p.m. Nov. 10 at Sands Point Preserve Conservancy, 127 Middle Neck Rd., Sands Point 11050

KEEP IN MIND Please arrive 10 minutes early to check in at Castle Gould. Dress appropriately for the weather (especially kids) with warm clothing if chilly and boots if raining as trails can get muddy. Check the website or call the main number on the morning of your hike to ensure the event has not been canceled if inclement weather is expected.

INFO $20 per car for nonmembers (parking included). The conservancy offers themed nature walks on the second Sunday of most months. Registration is not required. For more information, call 516-570-2281 or visit


WHAT Based out of Hampton Bays, the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society focuses on marine mammal and sea turtle response, education and research. During November, biologists guide participants on interactive, educational walks along a Riverhead beach to look for sea turtles that have been "cold stunned," or experienced hypothermia. Following a seminar, participants also help remove harmful marine debris along the way.

WHEN | WHERE 1 to 3 p.m. Nov. 11 and 30 at Hallock State Park Preserve, 6062 Sound Ave., Riverhead

KEEP IN MIND Dress warmly and wear sneakers or hiking boots.

INFO Free. The society offers a variety of seminars and guided nature tours throughout the year. Visit: for more information. Registration is required. Sign up at or by calling 631-317-0030.


WHAT Discover the sights and sounds of the 51-acre Downs Farm Preserve in Cutchogue  in the moonlight on a 1-mile hike through the woods offered by the Group for the East End, a Southold nonprofit. With a little luck, you might even hear or see an owl.

WHEN | WHERE 6 to 7 p.m. Nov. 12, and offered monthly, at 23800 Rte. 25, Cutchogue

KEEP IN MIND Dress warmly and bring a flashlight or headlamp.

INFO Free. Hiking dates and times vary from month to month. Other walks include the Bay to Sound Trail Clean-Up on Nov. 16 and Identifying Trees Without Leaves on Nov. 23. All require registration by emailing Space is limited. For more information, call 631-765-6450, ext. 208 or go to


WHAT Join a park naturalist on a 3-mile hike to the Montauk Point State Park seal haul-out area, where migrating pinnipeds rest on rocks. Hikers meet at the lighthouse concession across from the parking lot entrance.

WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m. Nov. 9, repeating frequently through April (hiking times change from week to week to match dropping tides), at Montauk Point State Park, 2000 Old Montauk Hwy., Montauk 

KEEP IN MIND A spotting scope is provided, but binoculars are recommended. Wear clothing appropriate for the weather and comfortable shoes for hiking.

INFO $4; kids 5 and under, free. Registration is required. Call 631-668-5000, ext 200.


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