Fall color is making its comeback this week, flecking the landscape with dazzling red, gold and orange. You can catch autumn at its peak on a guided hike or on a horseback, bike or tour boat ride.
Indeed, now is the most popular time of year for horseback rides, says Michelle Julien, manager of Sweet Hills Riding Center, which offers year-round trail rides at West Hills County Park in Melville. "It's not too hot or too cold, and the leaves are changing right now," Julien says.
Matt Meyran of Port Washington Water Taxi Harbor Tours treats his boat passengers to views of a Gold Coast shoreline ablaze with fall color. "Even the ivies are turning red," he says.
Here's how to get the most out of a peak season leaf-peeping expedition.
Port Washington Water Taxi harbor tours
WHEN | WHERE Noon, 2 and 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays leaves from Town Dock, 347 Main St., Port Washington.
INFO 516-767-1691, portwatertaxi.com
COST $25 ($15 younger than 12)
Meyran's 47-foot Charles II passenger boat stays inside Manhasset Bay if it's windy, and on calmer days, ventures out to the Stepping Stones or Execution Rocks lighthouses in Long Island Sound. Bring a thermos of your favorite beverage, a sandwich, and enjoy the view through the cabin windows.
2. HORSEBACK RIDE
Belmont Lake State Park
WHEN | WHERE One-hour rides 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily at Babylon Riding Center, 1500 Peconic Ave., Babylon
INFO 631-587-7778, babylonridingcenter.com
Walk, trot or canter -- depending on your skill level -- around Southard's Pond, a little known scenic oasis south of Belmont Lake State Park in North Babylon.
West Hills County Park
WHEN | WHERE One-hour rides 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (until 4 p.m. beginning Nov. 1) at Sweet Hills Riding Center, West Hills County Park, West Hills. Riders must be 8 or older.
INFO 631-351-9168, sweethillsridingcenter.com
Pay homage to nature's majestic tapestry on scenic bridal paths through 900 wooded acres. Some rides climb Jayne's Hill, at 400 feet above sea level Long Island's highest natural point and an inspiration for poet Walt Whitman.
40-mile bike ride
WHEN | WHERE Meet at 7 a.m. every Saturday in the parking lot of Brand's Cycle and Fitness, 1966 Wantagh Ave., Wantagh. No reservation is necessary, but a bicycle helmet is mandatory.
INFO 516-781-6100, brandscycle.com
This Saturday morning bike trip led by Jaime Castro of Brand's pro shop is a strenuous seven-year tradition, which generally attracts about 40 riders. An approximately two-hour ride heads north, passing Bethpage State Park on the way. Although all riding abilities are welcome, Castro says, "we recommend they be able to ride 40 miles in a reasonable amount of time." Bring energy bars or a granola mix for fuel, and plenty of water.
Point Woods and Money Pond loop
WHEN | WHERE Meet at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, at Point Woods trailhead on Camp Hero Road, Montauk.
INFO 631-267-6608, ligreenbelt.org
Tramp, tramp, tramp your way through Montauk's wetlands and woods on a 5-mile hike, one of a number of fall outdoor jaunts offered by the Long Island Greenbelt Trail Conference. The leader, local historian Rick Whalen of Amagansett, takes hikers through "a pretty rich forest" with maple trees and other deciduous species, running brooks and a fresh water pond. Bring a canteen full of water, or buy snacks at the Montauk Point State Park concession.