Spectacular autumn colors light up Connetquot River State Park in...

Spectacular autumn colors light up Connetquot River State Park in Oakdale. Credit: James Carbone

Summer may be coming to a close, but the chance to enjoy the outdoors isn't. In fact, with its pleasant temperatures, September is the perfect time to go for a hike and see fall take over in all its vibrant glory.

"Our typical fall color is mid- to late October into November," says Vincent Simeone, director of Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park. "But it's been kind of dry, and I think the cool weather and dryness -- if it continues -- could mean an early fall as far as colors go."

These five places are made for nature walks. Take along the usual necessities, and tick repellent too, officials suggest, since the pesky insects are still around.

Prices given are for use of the outside trails and grounds. House tours, when available, are extra.


WHEN|WHERE 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, 440 Montauk Hwy., Great River

INFO 631-581-1002, bayardcuttingarboretum.com

COST $8 parking weekends and holidays

This state park is a popular spot for Long Islanders to enjoy hiking through the fall scenery.

Walking along the Connetquot River, visitors will still see wildlife around, such as ospreys and turtles. The trails also meander through evergreen forests, showcasing century-old Spanish firs and holly trees.

Afterward, grab some lunch or enjoy a Victorian tea at the Hidden Oak Cafe in the old William Bayard Cutting manor house.


WHEN|WHERE 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, 1395 Planting Fields Rd., Oyster Bay

INFO $8 parking; 516-922-9200, plantingfields.org

Leaves will likely start changing at the end of the month, but the dahlias are in bloom from mid-September through much of October, says Simeone.

The 509-acre estate will have lots of colorful foliage, including a maple tree collection with about 50 different species, he adds.

The Synoptic Garden's five acres of trees and shrubs, some of which produce berries in the fall, will be showing off their striking tones as well.


WHEN|WHERE 8 a.m.-6 p.m., 127 Middle Neck Rd., Sands Point

INFO 516-571-7901, thesandspointpreserve.com

COST $10 parking

With six trails through most of the 216 acres of the old Guggenheim estate, there will be plenty of fall foliage to take in. The six trails vary in length from a quarter-mile to one mile.

"The preserve explodes with color," says executive director Jean-Marie Posner. "You feel a little change in the air, and it's delightful and refreshing."

Upcoming events include the Village Day Fall Festival on Sept.28, and a treasure hunt through the woods with compass or GPS on Columbus Day, Oct. 13.


WHEN|WHERE 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays, 4090 Sunrise Hwy., Oakdale

INFO 631-581-1005, nysparks.com

COST $8 parking fee

Along the Connetquot River are about 50 miles of trails where trees and bushes will soon burst into the colors of autumn. "It's spectacular," says state parks spokesman George Gorman, of the soon-to-be-changing colors.

You also will find horseback riding trails, which you can use if you trailer in your own horse. Kayakers also can enjoy the view from the water, he says.


WHAT Full Harvest Moon Night Hike

WHEN|WHERE 7:30 p.m. Monday, 3 Old Country Rd., Quogue

INFO 631-653-4771, quoguewildliferefuge.org

COST $5, reservations required

Daylight will be gone, so the colors of autumn for this hike can be viewed as the Harvest Moon shines on. The mile-and-a-half walk takes about 60 to 90 minutes and is conducted without use of flashlights.

"We let your night vision take over," says executive director Michael Nelson. Trails are also open every day.

Another great way to see the foliage is by water. On Oct. 4, the group will have a "Fall Foliage Paddle" on Old Ice Pond during the day in both canoe and kayak. The cost is $20.


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