A family goes snowshoeing in Bethpage State Park in Bethpage.

A family goes snowshoeing in Bethpage State Park in Bethpage. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

A few years ago, park managers on Long Island rarely saw a snow shoer. “In our minds, that was an upstate sport,” says George Gorman, regional director of New York State parks on Long Island.

Today, that’s no longer the case — at least, in the wake of a good storm. “Snow shoeing has increased dramatically on Long Island from a few years ago, when we virtually didn’t see anybody. Today, we see snow shoers regularly,” Gorman says.

And, as more people snowshoe, the number of people taking up the sport — excuse the pun — may snowball. “As they see other people doing it, they may decide to try it,” says Edward Moran, former president of the Long Island chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club, which is devoted to outdoor recreation and conservation of New York State’s forest preserves.

Snow shoeing is an affordable alternative to skiing — a pair of snowshoes and poles start at about $100. And snow shoeing is free to do at Long Island’s state parks, which don’t charge a parking fee this time of year, Gorman says.

Here are some of Long Island’s popular spots for snowshoers, according to Gorman and Moran:

Bethpage State Park

99 Quaker Meeting House Rd., Farmingdale

WHY “It’s in the middle of Long Island,” Gorman says, making it geographically desirable. It offers somewhat hilly terrain.

More info 516-249-0700, parks.ny.gov/parks.

Blydenburgh County Park

Veterans Memorial Hwy., Smithtown

WHY “It’s a six-mile loop around Stump Pond, so you start and end in the same place. It’s very pretty,” Moran says. 

More info 631-854-3712, alltrails.com

Caleb Smith State Park Preserve

581 W. Jericho Turnpike, Smithtown

WHY “It’s like being in an upstate area, without the intrusion of residences. You see nature at its best with a beautiful snowy landscape,” Gorman says. Says Moran: “They’re all fairly easy trails. You see deer in there. It’s a nice place to get started.”

More info 631-265-1054, parks.ny.gov/parks

Caumsett State Historic Park

25 Lloyd Harbor Rd., Huntington

WHY Caumsett is a favorite because of its outstanding views of the Long Island Sound, Gorman says.

More info 631-423-1770, parks.ny.gov/parks

Connetquot River State Park Preserve

4090 Sunrise Hwy., Oakdale

Connetquot River State Park Preserve is a great place to...

Connetquot River State Park Preserve is a great place to observe winter waterfowl or go snow shoeing. Credit: Connetquot River State Park Preserve

WHY "The preserve has 50 miles of hiking, bridle, cross-country ski and nature trails, all good for snowshoeing,” according to Jessica Anderson-Ruiz, Connetquot park manager.

More info 631-581-1072, parks.ny.gov/parks

Heckscher State Park

Heckscher Parkway Field 1, East Islip

WHY “Heckscher has 25 miles of trails. It’s pretty much flat,” says park manager David Auguste. “We also have a beach environment because we’re on the Great South Bay.”

More info 631-581-2100, parks.ny.gov/parks

Sunken Meadow State Park

Rte. 25A and Sunken Meadow Parkway, Kings Park

WHY “There are some really pretty trails overlooking Long Island Sound in the section known as The Bluffs,” Moran says. You can start from the picnic area inside Sunken Meadow State parking Field 4, and head east on the Long Island Greenbelt Trail, he says.

More info 631-269-4333; alltrails.com

Trail View State Park

Jericho Turnpike (Route 25), Woodbury to Cold Spring Harbor State Park, Route 25A adjacent to Cold Spring Harbor Library.

WHY The trail starts right off on Jericho Turnpike for the Nassau-Suffolk Greenbelt Trail and continues to Cold Spring Harbor State Park, Gorman says. “For getting into the hills, I like the northern part better,” he says. “You’ll feel like you climbed a mountain in the Catskills at the end of it.” He recommends beginners try a different park before taking on this more challenging trail.

More info 631-423-1770; parks.ny.gov/parks

IF YOU GO

  • Dress for the weather. Wear layers, to be warm if it’s cold and that can be easily removed if sweating from exertion.
  • Bring water. If it’s a sunny day, also apply sunscreen.
  • Respect cross-country ski tracks; snow shoers should walk next to them, not on them.
  • Bring a cellphone. Trails can head into more remote areas of parks and snow shoers should have the ability to call the park office or 911 in an emergency and be able to describe where they are, Gorman says.

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