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When and where to see the best fall foliage on Long Island

Mill Pond Park in Wantagh is a place

Mill Pond Park in Wantagh is a place to see foliage and watch birds. Credit: Marisol Diaz

Fall foliage is arriving a little late this year, extending the leaf-peeping season for Long Islanders who like to walk and gawk at autumn’s colorful spectacle. If you want to turn your leaf-peeping experience into an autumn adventure, options include horseback riding, bird-watching and fly-fishing at parks and preserves.

A dry summer and warm temperatures have delayed the onset of fall foliage, which traditionally turns its brightest color the last week in October and the first week in November, according to foliage experts.

“Peak foliage is expected around the weekend of Nov. 5 and 6 and will extend into the weekend of the 12-13,” says Eric Scheffel, a spokesman with Empire State Development’s I Love New York program, which takes weekly reports from two Long Island foliage spotters.

Here are leaf-peeping activities that add a different perspective to wandering amid the majestic tapestry of red, orange and gold.


WHERE Babylon Riding Center, 1500 Peconic Ave., West Babylon (adjacent to Belmont Lake State Park)

INFO 631-587-7778,

COST $50 an hour for groups of up to 10 riders, private ride $75 an hour per person

The fall foliage reflected on the park lake creates a picture-postcard for riders from the Babylon Riding Center, which connects to about 14 miles of trails. Trail rides also pass by Southard’s Pond, another body of water surrounded by colorful foliage. Adding to the pleasure: The weather is “not too hot or cold, it’s just perfect,” says riding center manager Rachel Richards.

WHERE The New York Equestrian Center, 633 Eagle Ave., West Hempstead, near Hempstead Lake State Park

INFO 516-486-9673,

COST $50 per rider, groups of 3; $55 per person for two riders; $60 per single rider.

A 40-45-minute ride along manicured bridal paths passes under a canopy of bright red, orange and gold leaves, bordering the park lake and ponds. “It’s an experience of the wilderness in Hempstead,” says manager Krista Muyters, who adds that eagles and even deer have been seen on autumn trail rides.


WHEN | WHERE 9 a.m. Nov. 6, meet at the Mill Pond Park gazebo, Merrick Road just west of the Wantagh Parkway, Wantagh

INFO 516-467-9498,


At Mill Pond Park, migrating winter birds add more color to the tapestry of autumn leaves in early November, says South Shore Audubon Society field trip guide Joe Landesberg of Rockville Centre. “It’s a nice combination,” says Landesberg. Bring binoculars for the group’s guided two-hour hike in search of blue-winged teals, green-winged teals, northern shovelers and hooded mergansers.

ALSO TRY There’s also a guided bird walk 9 a.m. Nov. 13 at the Massapequa Preserve, another South Shore foliage hot spot.


WHEN | WHERE 8 a.m.-noon and noon-4 p.m. daily Wednesday-Sunday at Connetquot River State Park Preserve, 3525 Sunrise Hwy., Oakdale

INFO 631-581-1005,

COST $20 (includes parking)

Amid the strikingly beautiful foliage surrounding the Connetquot River and the Main Pond, you can go fly-fishing for rainbow, brook and brown trout, according to park worker Vito Marsico. You’ll need a New York State fishing license, and gear with barbless hooks, because all fishing is catch and release, Marsico says. Call ahead to reserve a fishing spot.


WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m. Nov. 5 from intersection of Northwest and Old Northwest Roads, East Hampton

INFO 631-283-3195,, or email


Take a 3 1⁄2-mile woodland walk, led by Jim Zajac, president of the East Hampton Trails Preservation Society. Although the White Pine Forest you’ll visit doesn’t change color, the leaves on oaks, maples, beeches and mountain laurel along the Paumanok Path do indeed reflect the changing season.


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