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Long Island fall foliage sites come through with flying colors

A Japanese maple in full regalia at Planting

A Japanese maple in full regalia at Planting Fields Arboretum with Coe Hall in the background, in Oyster Bay, November 2015. Photo Credit: Planting Fields Arboretum / Bill Barash

Whether you’re interested in fall foliage for scenery, strolling or a selfie, Long Island has hundreds of acres from which to choose.

This year, experts predict leaves will reach peak color changes in mid- to late October. “That’s when fall foliage is most vibrant,” says Rita Langdon, executive director of strategic partnerships and campus operations at LIU Post.

The Brookville institution is among the area’s top destinations each fall and counts a 40-acre portion of its campus as an arboretum, which features more than 125 trees labeled with horticultural information.

The scenic campus is home to more than 4,000 trees spread across 307 acres. The arboretum is free to access daily through dusk and includes a 105-foot tall tulip tree — its tallest variety — that bears a narrow scar in its bark from a lightning strike and a Tabletop Scotch elm made up of two trees grafted together. Langdon says the campus’ Great Lawn is a strategic starting point to navigate the many tree varieties.

Among the institution’s most unusual perennial plants is a cucumber tree characterized by its large cucumber-shaped leaves and a Japanese pagoda dogwood tree. This Japanese variety is unique to the native trees in that it blooms late in the summer.

WHEN | WHERE Daily through dusk; 720 Northern Blvd., Brookville

INFO liu.edu/arboretum

COST Free

 

PLANTING FIELDS ARBORETUM

Despite fall being a busy season at Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park, the former Gold Coast estate is still a serene place to witness fall foliage.

“We get busy, but we have 409 acres and it never seems too crowded,” says Jennifer Lavella, Planting Fields director of marketing and events.

The sprawling estate has trails and historic buildings that make it especially worthwhile for self-guided strolls this time of year.

The Paul Callahan Dahlia Garden is a main attraction year-round, Lavella says. The dahlia garden has been in bloom since earlier this month and will continue to be for several weeks.

Planting Fields’ sensory and Italian gardens and its historic and specimen trees are also worth checking out, Lavella says.

Access to the main greenhouse is included with admission.

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

INFO 516-922-9210;

plantingfields.org

COST $8 per car on weekends, free weekdays

SANDS POINT PRESERVE CONSERVANCY

Sands Point Preserve Conservancy has 216 wooded acres with six marked trails that lead visitors through lush woods and fields. The preserve features several Gold Coast mansions and a freshwater pond.

“We get many visitors throughout the fall foliage season who come to walk the trails, picnic on the Great Lawn or come to one of our many family or adult nature programs, seasonal celebrations or cultural events,” says Jana Raphael-McDonough, marketing and public relations director.

WHEN | WHERE 8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily at 127 Middle Neck Rd., Port Washington

INFO 516-571-7900;

sandspointpreserve.org

COST $10 per car; $4 per walk-in

 

CALEB SMITH STATE PARK PRESERVE, SMITHTOWN

This state park nestled in the heart of Smithtown will have oak, willow, beach and pine trees on full display. The 543-acre refuge has colorful marked trails ideal for treks and bird-watching and a nature museum that is free to access.

Depending on the time of day and number of people in the park, there is also wildlife throughout the space.

WHEN | WHERE 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday at 581 W. Jericho Tpke., Smithtown

INFO 631-265-1054; parks.ny.gov

COST $8 per car through Oct. 31

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