The Woodpecker Games

From Brandon, age 11…


On Sunday we had some time before dinner so my dad and I got to go on a cool hike around Miller’s Pond in Smithtown.  When we got there our car almost went into the shallow edge of the pond when my dad got out of the car without putting the car in park.  I jumped out of the car and my dad jumped back in and hit the brake.  It was scary at first then but after it was funny.


The pond had a lot of ducks in it.  It also had 1 swan.  There were people fishing and a lady reading a book in her car.  We started hiking around the pond along the Greenbelt Trail, which is 32 miles across Long Island.  You can start at Sunken Meadow and finish at Heckscher Park or the other way around.  We were somewhere in the middle.  When we were on the trail we saw lots of birds, trees that had fallen down and then cut and moved off the trail and some flowers starting to grow.  After walking through this part of the trail, we crossed over

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LI Greenbelt Trail: Boys Hiking Weekend Pt. 2

I guess we were inspired from our 6 miles on the trails at Muttontown Preserve yesterday and instead of running this morning Brandon and I completed a 5.5 mile section of the Long Island Greenbelt Trail just South of the LIE.  Brandon wrote yesterday’s post on his own and those are so much more interesting than mine, but he’s tired so we are sharing the responsibility tonight 🙂

We started off at Lakeland County Park and hiked through Connetquot River State Park Preserve ending at the South entrance in Oakdale.  We have been to the Preserve several times in the past year – I’ve run the Blue Trail (well, most 6.5 of 8 miles, lots of soft sand that I’m not great running on), passed through the Preserve last Sunday running from Lakeland Park to the South trailhead of the LI Greenbelt in Heckscher Park.  Also, we’ve gone to Frog Night at the preserve and held toads and frogs from the Main Pond.  The kids have gone a few other times as well on the shorter trails; enjoying the horses and checking out the reptiles and amphibians in the main office.

This first photo below is from last week and already the colors have shifted to a less colorful shade.  The light and dark green, yellow, brown and reds of the woodlands surrounded us and Continue reading

Lost and Found in Muttontown

**written by Brandon, age 10**

This morning we drove to Muttontown Preserve.  A lot of our family lives near there.  I went with my younger sister Mia, my dad and my mom.  We packed KIND bars, waters, cameras, a compass, GPS watch and dressed for cold weather.  It still felt cold anyway.

My dad went to the Preserve last year with my 3 younger sisters but I couldn’t go that day.  There are many different trails and it is called part of the Gold Coast estates on the North Shore.  But when my dad and sisters went they couldn’t go really all the way through the Preserve.  We wanted to go all the way to the Walled Garden and the Ruins.

The Ruins were originally a huge mansion deep inside the woods.  It was owned by many people and then King Zog from Albania purchased it in 1951 and never moved in.  Later he sold it, but it was very mysterious.  People said that he buried his treasure in the mansion walls and a lot of people ransacked the house to try to find his treasure.  Later on the estate was demolished because it was falling apart.  I really wanted to go and see Continue reading

Bluff to the Beach Hike

**Story by Brandon, Sofia and Mia**

From Brandon, 10:  Yesterday me and 2 of my sisters went on a hike on the Long Island Greenbelt Trail.  We started at the Kings Park Bluff and hiked all the way to Sunken Meadow Beach.  Along the way we walked through the woods, going uphill and downhill, and also got to look out over the Long Island Sound.  I saw chipmunks, squirrels, a lot of birds including Bluejays.  There were a few people on the trail; some running and some walking with their dog.  But a lot of the time it was just us.

When we got to Sunken Meadow State Park we reached the trailhead for the Greenbelt Trail just over a bridge.  We went to a playground and there was a high school cross-country race and lots of people cheering!

After awhile it got cold so we started back.  Even though we followed the white tree blazes for the Greenbelt on the first part of our hike, on the way back to the Bluff we went left onto the Yellow Trail for a little while and got closer to Continue reading

Long Island Greenbelt Trail: First Blaze

Before I took Brandon and Sofia to National Parks out in Wyoming and Montana this summer, I wanted to make sure we were prepared to spend some substantial time hiking.  The easy part was purchasing all the gear we needed; hydration daypacks, solid hiking boots, wool socks, layers of clothing to start the cool mornings, compass, binoculars, cameras to start.  It’s always fun to explain to  a 7 year old how delicate a digital camera is; only to turn around and they start swinging it around like a lasso 🙂

The other crucial part of our preparation was to get some miles in on trails around Long Island; both for our legs and to break in our boots.  My older kids already are used to logging some

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Greenbelt Trail: 32 Miles from Long Island Sound to Great South Bay

“Daddy, can you take 6 months off from work, take me out of school too and can we hike the Appalachian Trail together?“.

This request came from my son Brandon, 10, during a 6+ mile hike around Stump Pond while camping in Blydenburgh County Park on Long Island, New York.  If you don’t know, the AT starts in Georgia, finishes in Maine and is 2186 miles long.  Thru-hikers, if they complete the trek, start around April and finish in Continue reading

Fall Friday

It was a long work week – didn’t get to see the kids much so looking forward to some outdoor fun!  It’s feeling a bit cool and I’m slipping and sliding on lots of leaves on my runs through the Long Island Greenbelt Trail.  Busted 2 toes today on a tree root, but that’s good kind of pain 🙂

Every year I say let’s forget about paying for Fall cleanup and try to take care of it myself.  I guess I am having delusions about how much raking the kids can handle and I usually make it through half the yard – the front usually, not the full back.  I’ll see the kids lounging on the couch doing nothing or hear the Giants game and I cave and call someone to finish my ‘attempt’.

A few of our large trees fell during Hurricane Sandy and then we had Continue reading

Caleb Smith State Park Preserve

Come to our hometown of Smithtown and enjoy the morning sunshine and fresh air with a hike at Caleb Smith State Park Preserve, with its many different habitats, including freshwater wetlands, ponds, streams, fields and upland woods.

at Halloween

at Halloween

Its diverse habitats support a variety of trees, shrubs, wildflowers and ferns that make the preserve a true refuge for wildlife.

Brandon, 10: I like it at Caleb Smith during the Winter because the Pond is prettiest that time of year. The museum is cool. There is a long hallway with a couple of different rooms and it looks like an old-fashioned house. You can sign your name in a book to get mail from the park. In one of the museum’s rooms you could see information and pictures of birds, fox, other animals you may see at the park and different kinds of plants and trees.



There are several trails for Cross Country Skiing (orange and green), yellow and blue for running/hiking, the red trail to the Boces Outdoor Learning Lab and 3.5 miles of the Long Island Greenbelt Trail for hiking and lots of unmarked  Continue reading

Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve

Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve is a terrific way to spend your morning or afternoon – whether you are alone jogging, on a bicycle ride, hiking or exploring with your kids. There is the main 3 mile loop with marked bicycle lanes and, for the most part, lots of shade. There are beautiful patches of wildflowers all over.

marked bicycle path along the loop

marked bicycle path along the loop

the chase in on!

the chase in on!

From Brandon, 10: There was this big field in front of the horse stables and my sisters and I were rolling around in the grass. After awhile we walked to this winter cottage and took a pretty picture in front of it.

The Winter Cottage is one of the first sites to see on the loop, on your right and it was designed to be very naturalistic and to blend in with the natural surroundings of the preserve. Behind the cottage you can walk down an embankment where there are some benches and other places to roam.

winter cottage

behind Winter Cottage

behind Winter Cottage

The Lloyd Harbor Equestrian Center is located here as well. As you walk through the loop you come along the back and see horses outside the stables. There are several bridle paths throughout the preserve, along with many nature trails that lead to beautiful views from the bluffs and

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