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TravelLong Island Getaways

Walks off the beaten path: Montauk, Orient, Fire Island

Hikers walk through Sunken Forest on Fire Island.

Hikers walk through Sunken Forest on Fire Island. Credit: Newsday / Bill Davis

To take a walk on Long Island's wildest side, you've got to begin at The End -- as in Montauk Point.

That's where you'll find the beginning of the Paumanok Path, which winds 110 miles from the base of the Montauk Point Lighthouse to Rocky Point. "It's our Appalachian Trail," says Montauk State Park complex manager Tom Dess.

The Montauk Point revetment is one of three off-the-beaten-path trails -- the others are in Orient Point and Fire Island -- where you can add "ends of the earth" adventure to a leaf-peeping hike this fall. On these remote-as-Long-Island-gets trails, you'll be rewarded with spectacular scenery, sudden wildlife encounters and -- on a quiet day -- a sense of utter solitude.

You'll never really be alone, of course, with abundant wildlife, including pesky parasites.

"Take the proper precautions when dressing to protect from ticks and mosquitoes," says Emily Lauri, community relations director for Suffolk County Parks. Wear long sleeves and long pants, and tuck your socks up over the bottom of your pants for extra protection, Lauri suggests.

Here's where to get that "off the grid" feeling, just a few miles from home:

1. Montauk

THE HIKE Revetment, Montauk Point State Park, $8 vehicle entrance fee, daily, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., through October 12; 8 a.m.-4 p.m., weekends & holidays only, Oct. 17-Nov. 8., 631-668-3781,

GETTING THERE Take Route 27 to the end, park in the Montauk Point State Park lot and follow the beach to the revetment.

THE TRAIL It takes only a few minutes to traverse this craggy, elevated path, a glorified retaining wall made of five-to-eight-ton boulders from rock quarries. If you don't mind hopping from rock to rock like a mountain goat -- oh, the things you'll see.

SIGHTS Above, the historic lighthouse. To the east: the Atlantic Ocean where it meets Block Island Sound. Below: anglers casting off the rocks for striped bass.

SIDE TRIP The Seal Haul-Out Trail, Camp Hero State Park. Enter on Route 27 for a mile walk through woods to the shoreline. Through May, seals sunbathe on the rocks at low tide, Dess says.

2. Orient

THE HIKE Orient Point County Park, Route 25, Orient Point, 631-854-4949.

GETTING THERE Take Route 25 (Main Road in the Town of Southold) to the end. Enter on the north side of Route 25, opposite the Orient Point Cross Sound Ferry Terminal.

THE TRAIL The poet Robert Frost himself would have enjoyed Long Island's least-traveled 1/2 mile hike. It cuts through the 48-acre park, along a Long Island Sound beach, to the very end of the North Fork.

SIGHTS Orient yourself by gazing east to Plum Gut, the Orient Point lighthouse and Plum Island.

SIDE TRIP Orient Beach State Park, Route 25, Orient Point, 631-323-2440, Vehicle entrance fee $8, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. weekends and holidays through Oct. 12. Marine wildlife, views of Gardiners Bay, rare maritime forest.

3. Fire Island

THE HIKE Sunken Forest, Fire Island National Seashore, Sailor's Haven Visitor's Center, 631-597-6183,

GETTING THERE Sayville Ferry Service (631-589-0810, runs Saturdays, Sundays and Columbus Day to Sailor's Haven on Fire Island. Round-trip, $7-$13.

THE TRAIL The paved footpath and boardwalk roll through Fire Island's enchanted forest.

THE SIGHTS A centuries-old Maritime Holly Forest bordered by Atlantic Ocean dunes and the Great South Bay.

SIDE TRIP A half-walk from Sailor's Haven takes you to Cherry Grove, where Cherry's On the Bay remains open for cocktails, dining and Great South Bay sunset views through Oct. 11. (631-597-7859,

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