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Guided nature walks on Long Island great for families

Kit Kerney of Williston collects items along a

Kit Kerney of Williston collects items along a guided walk at the Sands Point Preserve Conservancy. Credit: Howard Simmons

One of the best ways to enjoy the spring weather 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.

WHERE Hither Hills State Park, 164 Old Montauk Hwy., Montauk

KEEP IN MIND Children 8 and older can participate. Todaro recommends wearing hiking boots or comfortable sneakers and bringing appropriate bug spray.

INFO Free for members. $15 adults, $10 children; includes a free day pass to the museum. Reservations are required 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.

WHERE 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 researchDuring the winter months, 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 Hallock State Park Preserve, 6062 Sound Ave., Riverhead

KEEP IN MIND Dress warmly and wear sneakers or hiking boots. Bring gloves and reusable bags.

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


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 Hiking times change from week to week to match dropping tides. at Montauk Point State Park, 2000 Old Montauk Hwy., Montauk 

KEEP IN MIND Binoculars are recommended. Wear clothing appropriate for the weather and comfortable shoes for hiking.

INFO $4; kids 3 and under, freeRegistration is required. Call 631-668-5000, ext 200.

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