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When you think of hiking through the woods or down a trail, you often conjure up an image of smelling the fresh blooming flowers, hearing the birds chip as they come out from a long winter or enjoying the new spring sun.  While these are great aspects of hiking, people are constantly overlooking the benefits of hiking during my favorite season……the fall!

One of the most breathtaking views you can see is the foliage changing deep in the woods as you notice the squirrels running around hiding nuts beneath the freshly fallen leaves. 

The fall gives you an opportunity to experience the crisp air, amazing colors from changing leaves and an over abundance of wildlife.  As the leaves fall and ground cover begins to get sparse, it creates an opportunity to see wildlife that isn’t visible for much of the year.  Rabbits, squirrels, pheasants, and even the occasional fox.  I can’t think of a better way to share the wonders that this Earth has with your family then getting out first hand and showing them. 

Create memories that will last them a lifetime and start a yearly tradition of seeing the animals before they go to sleep for the winter.  You will create not only a budget friendly family activity but an invaluable curiosity in the minds of those little ones as they see and experience the wonders all around us.

If you’re not fortunate enough to live north of the “Mason-Dixon”, here are some places close to me:

Sunken Meadow State Park:   The shores of Sunken Meadow State Park, located in Northport, NY, are on Long Island Sound — the body of water in between Long Island and Connecticut. Explore six miles of hiking trails. Besides being a stunning home to many different sea birds, Sunken Meadow features beautiful shoreline, stunning rock bluffs, marshes, creeks and wooded rolling hills. Part of the 32-mile Greenbelt Trail passes through the park, taking you on a journey through woodlands and along a creek.The neighboring Nissequogue River State Park is an amazing place to hike through. The river, is one of four major rivers on Long Island, and has salt water, brackish and fresh water areas, loads of sea birds and stunning scenery. You can hike right alongside the river on the Greenbelt Trail.For directions and more information visit the New York State Parks Website.

Massapequa Preserve:  Explore the Massapequa Preserve in Nassau Country. It boasts 423 acres of the most diverse and ecologically valuable lands on the island, according to the Nassau County Department of Parks, Recreation and Museums. The beginning of the Nassau-Suffolk Greenbelt Trail begins at Merrick Road and Ocean Avenue in Massapequa at the preserve, and it runs through a lot of it. You’ll see freshwater swamps, marshes, runs along streams, lakes, and sandy bog areas.

Montauk State Park:  Hike to the seals. The Seal Trail at Montauk State Park will take you to a beach area where you can see seals that like to sunbathe during the late winter and spring. It’s a short, easy walk through a diverse eco-system of marsh, beach and woods. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the seals and the abundance of sea birds. The seal hike is located at Montauk Point, a 724-acre park with five miles of hiking trails and plenty of gorgeous beaches to discover.
 
Long Island Arboretum:   Take a hike through a Long Island arboretum. The Bayard Cutting Arboretum, in Great River, NY, is neighbors to Connetquot River State Park. The arboretum is divided up into eight different sections. Discover winding trails that run through wetlands. Be witness to spectacular views. Many types of birds flock to the land; so bird lovers will take delight here, too.

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