Cold Spring Harbor State Park features a series of hills...

Cold Spring Harbor State Park features a series of hills and steep up- and downgrades, with the highest point at an elevation of 300 feet. Credit: Rick Kopstein

Lace up your sturdy shoes and hit local nature trails for spring’s answer to the stair climber: a hike with hills.

Although Long Island is better known for its flat terrain, it’s also home to rugged trails running through a number of local state parks and preserves, says Tom Casey of the Long Island Greenbelt Trail Conference. These hilly hikes are “absolutely good for your leg muscles,” says Casey, 78, a lifelong hiker who lives in West Sayville.

Here’s where to traverse hilly trails for fresh air, legwork and a hilltop view.

Norman J. Levy Park and Preserve

1600 Merrick Rd., Merrick

People jog and walk on the trail at Norman J....

People jog and walk on the trail at Norman J. Levy Park and Preserve in Merrick.  Credit: Danielle Silverman

A hill rising to 155 feet sits at the center of this Town of Hempstead facility built with recycled materials atop part of a former landfill. Paved trails lead up a moderately easy grade to a plateau-like parkland overlooking a 360-degree panorama of New York City and the Jones Beach Tower. The trail continues around duck ponds and a windmill before heading downhill. The park also features a bring-your-own kayak launch, a fishing pier on Merrick Bay and roaming goats that keep the foliage in check.

Cost Free

Hours Open daily, 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. April; 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. May to Aug.

More info 516-804-2000,

Cold Spring Harbor State Park

95 Harbor Rd., Cold Spring Harbor

Anthony King, right of Freeport, hikes with his sister Maureen McLoren, center and Anthony’s daughter Antionette King, left, in Cold Spring Harbor with their dog Milo; The Baki Family of Manhassett hike in Cold Spring Harbor; People hike the trails in Cold Spring Harbor. For hikers who want a strenuous cardio and leg workout, Cold Spring Harbor State Park offers one of the hilliest walking trails on Long Island. Credit: Rick Kopstein

Gird your calf muscles for a real workout. The trail through the 40-acre park at the northern end of the Nassau-Suffolk Greenbelt Trail is “probably the hilliest hike” on Long Island, rising to about 300 feet, Casey says. Start climbing at the edge of the parking area, up a steep natural staircase leading to “a series of hills and steep upgrades and downgrades,” Casey says. Cold Spring Harbor can be seen from the heights or from a seat in the quiet park across Harbor Road.

Cost Free

Hours Open daily, sunrise to sunset

More info 631-423-1770,

West Hills County Park/Walt Whitman Trail

Melville: Entrance at the small dog run on Round Swamp Road and Highhold Drive

A bicyclist takes a ride through West Hills County Park...

A bicyclist takes a ride through West Hills County Park in Melville. Credit: Howard Schnapp

West Hills-born poet and trail namesake Walt Whitman sang the praises of hiking to Jayne’s Hill, at 400-feet Long Island’s highest point. Whitman called the trail “a fascinating winding road” after an 1881 stroll to a summit view of Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean, according to the Walt Whitman Birthplace. Almost a century and a half hence, the park woodlands still  teem with wildflowers and wildlife, according to the Suffolk County Parks website.

Cost Free

Hours Open daily, 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 

More info 631-854-4423,

Manorville Hills County Park

Manorville; entrance on the east side of Captain Daniel Roe Highway (County Road 111)

Reputed to be the longest expanse of roadless land on Long Island, this lesser known park lives up to its hilly name. “It’s one hill after another,” says Gregory Durovich, 56, of Patchogue, who went biking on a recent day over hills he describes as varying “from short and steep to long and steady.”

Located in the Long Island Pine Barrens region, Manorville Hills contains a 10-mile section of the 125-mile-long Paumanok Path, which stretches from Rocky Point to Montauk Point, according to the Long Island Pine Barrens Society.

Cost Free

Hours Open daily, sunrise to sunset

More info 631-854-4949,

Montauk Point State Park

2000 Montauk Hwy., Montauk

Participants in a seal walk conducted by the New York...

Participants in a seal walk conducted by the New York State Parks, look at a seal at an observation area at Montauk Point State Park in Montauk. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

The hikers have returned to the stone revetment, a retaining wall that protects the lighthouse from natural forces and was reopened to foot traffic this spring following a multiyear, multimillion dollar renovation.

The path consists of giant armor stones, which weigh 10 to 20 tons apiece and are placed end-to-end. It runs between the lighthouse and the deep blue sea, to a wild-looking beach, and is the first step on a major trek through Long Island hill country. “The Paumanok Path Trail actually starts and goes across the revetment on its way to Rocky Point,” explains park operations manager Thomas E. Dess.

Cost $8 parking

Hours Open daily, sunrise to sunset, weekends April through  May 21

More info 631-668-3781,

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