Taking a walk or a bike ride is one of the pleasures of fall. Long Island offers a multitude of reasons to get out this time of year — migratory birds, magnificent water views and even some delicious mushrooms, if you know what to look for and where to find them.
PLACES TO SEE MIGRATORY BIRDS Because Long Island is directly in the middle of the Atlantic Flyway, migrating birds of all types are around this time of year. MaryLaura Lamont, a park ranger at the William Floyd Estate in Mastic, says the migration of raptors is “spectacular.” She recommends Robert Moses State Park, on Fire Island and at Jones Beach State Park. As a special treat near the water, you might see bald eagles, which are making a comeback on Long Island.
SEAL SPOTTING OUT EAST If you’re feeling robust during January and February, take a drive up Route 27 to the Montauk Lighthouse area. You may catch a glimpse of seals and rarely seen arctic birds that migrate down from the tundra. “If the wind is blowing enough to cause your eyes to tear up, it will push the birds closer to shore,” says Jennifer Wilson, conservation chair of the North Shore Audubon Society.
A SPLENDID STROLL Avalon Park & Preserve, Harbor Road, Stony Brook, 631-689-0619, avalonparkandpreserve.org, sunrise to sunset: The Audubon’s Jennifer Wilson is partial to this Stony Brook gem, which offers trails that meander along a pond, a labyrinth, native plants, open spaces and a boardwalk. Bikers and leashed dogs welcome.
WHERE NATIVE PLANTS STAR Hoffman Center, 6000 Northern Blvd., Muttontown (next to Martin Viette Nursery), offers guided walks every first and third Saturday, 516-922-3290, hoffmancenter.org, $5, reserve. See more than 100 species of native plants and one of the few remaining meadows on Long Island. No pets are allowed, and walkers must be 10 or older.
FORAGING Certain times of the year, Long Island offers an edible bounty, ranging from mushrooms to grapes to berries to black walnuts and other nuts. If you’re into mushrooms, the Long Island Mycological Society (limyco.org) has a stroll through Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park in Oyster Bay as part of Mushroom Day, Oct. 16, 1-4 p.m. Also, check out “Wildman” Steve Brill’s website (wildmanstevebrill.com) for guided foraging walks in Sunken Meadow State Park (Oct. 15) and Belmont Lake State Park (Oct. 30).
BIG DOG, LITTLE DOG Blydenburgh County Park, Veterans Memorial Highway, Hauppauge, 631-854-3712, parking fees may apply weekends and holidays. The dog park is an entirely fenced-in, two-acre parcel that includes separate areas for small and large dogs. Each has an open field and a wooded path. In addition, you can walk your leashed dog along trails to the water.
EASY, LEVEL TRAIL [/BOLD]Bethpage Bikeway, 99 Quaker Meetinghouse Rd., Farmingdale, 12.5 miles, Trail View State Park at Woodbury Road (Woodbury) to Merrick Road (Massapequa), 631-321-3510. With a paved trail and alternately wooded and water views, this bikeway is ideal for beginners as well as experienced bikers. Although there is an actual entrance, you can access the trail along the way. It connects Merrick Road in Massapequa with Bethpage State Park, and includes an additional trail north to Trail View State Park in Woodbury.
HILLY, CHALLENGING Trail View State Park (8101Jericho Tpke., Woodbury) north to Cold Spring Harbor State Park (95 Harbor Rd., Cold Spring Harbor), about four miles, open dawn to dusk. This is a ride for experienced mountain bikers. “It is pretty hilly the whole way,” says George Gorman, deputy regional director of New York State Parks. “But these trails are some of the most scenic bikeways on Long Island.”
TRI-SPY TOUR A guided bike tour covering the Revolutionary War-era Culper Spy Ring (1 p.m. Oct. 22, $25, 14 and older, helmets/water recommended, reserve, Three Village Historical Society, 93 North Country Rd., Setauket, 631-751-3730, tvhs.org): This nearly three-hour, leisurely, easy, bike ride led by historian Margo Arceri takes visitors through sites and events significant to the band of spies that helped turn the tide of the war in America’s favor.
SHELTER ISLAND You have to take a ferry from either Greenport or North Haven to get here, but it’s worth the 10 minutes and the ticket (less than $20 round-trip with car). Visit Ram Island — with a stop at the Ram’s Head Inn for a drink; explore Dering Harbor, New York State’s smallest village (population 11 in 2010 census); or peruse the shops in the island’s small “downtown,” Shelter Island Heights. Bring your bike or rent from Piccozzi’s Bike Shop, 177 N. Ferry Rd., 631-749-0045, 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. Sun.-Sat., $20 4 hours, $25 for a full day.