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Nassau-Suffolk Greenbelt Trail (Massapequa to Woodbury)
Directions to trailhead
This one-way hike requires two cars. Take the Southern State Parkway to Exit 28AS and head south on NY 135 for 1.7 miles. Take Exit 2E and proceed east on NY 27 (Sunrise Highway) for 1.1 miles. Park in the parking lot for the Massapequa railroad station or along Sunrise Highway.
With the second car, go back to NY 135 and head north on NY 135 to its terminus on Jericho Turnpike (NY 25). Proceed east on Jericho Turnpike for about one mile, and park in the parking area for Trail View State Park, on the left side of the road.
Take the Babylon Branch of the Long Island Rail Road to the Massapequa station. You will return from the Cold Spring Harbor station on the Port Jefferson Branch.
From the east end of the Massapequa station, head east on a paved path between the railroad tracks and a chain-link fence. In about 500 feet, you’ll come to a junction with another paved path. This is the route of the white-blazed Nassau-Suffolk Greenbelt Trail, here coaligned with the paved bike path. Turn left, following the white blazes, and proceed north along the west shore of the Massapequa Reservoir. Just ahead, a short side trail on the right leads down to the reservoir.
A short distance beyond, you’ll come to a fork. Follow the white blazes, which bear left, leaving the paved path, and head into the woods on a footpath. For the next few miles, the hiking trail and the bike path follow separate routes.
After crossing Clark Boulevard, you’ll pass a wetland on the right. Puncheons have been placed along wet sections of the trail. In half a mile, the trail turns left onto a wide dirt path that runs along the west side of a pond. At the north end of the pond, as the wide path curves left, you should bear right, following the white blazes ahead on a footpath. The trail now curves to the right, crosses the inlet of the pond on a wooden footbridge, and continues through an open area along the north side of the pond.
Soon, the trail bears left and reenters the woods. You’ll pass some interesting trees, including one with seven trunks. The trail continues north on a footpath until it reaches another open area, with Massapequa Creek on the right. The trail soon reenters the woods. It bears left at fork, then right at the next fork. Just beyond, it crosses a stream on a wooden bridge and proceeds through an area with many exposed tree roots. As the trail heads north, it passes through a stand of pitch pines. Although the eastern end of Long Island is known for its pine barrens, pitch pines are not often found this far west on the island.
About two miles from the start of the hike, the trail turns left onto a wide dirt road, then turns right again and heads north on another dirt road, passing behind the back yards of homes. Soon, the trail reaches paved Linden Street. It turns right and follow a path along the paved road for 200 feet, then turns left and crosses the road just beyond an entrance ramp to the Southern State Parkway.
On the north side of Linden Street, the trail bears right and follows a narrow corridor between Linden Street and the parkway. It then curves left, climbs the embankment of the parkway, and turns right, parallel to the parkway. Just ahead, it joins the paved bike path that comes in from the left and continues parallel to the ramp, crossing over the Southern State Parkway and continuing over another bridge that goes over a ramp to the Bethpage State Parkway. The trail now passes a small pond on the right and continues ahead on the paved bike path.
In 400 feet, the Nassau-Suffolk Greenbelt Trail bears left, leaving the bike path, and follows a footpath into the woods. For the next 2.5 miles, the trail heads north along a narrow corridor for the Bethpage State Parkway. For much of the way, the view of the parkway is obscured by the vegetation, but you are never far away from this busy road.
The trail crosses a footbridge over a creek and parallels the creek for some distance. After about a mile, the trail reaches the intersection of West Drive and Northwest Drive. Here, it joins the paved bike path, crosses an exit ramp from the parkway and goes under the Boundary Avenue overpass. North of the overpass, the trail bears left, leaving the bike path, and again follows a narrow corridor between the parkway on the left and the bike path on the right. Along the way, it passes through a stand of pitch pines and holly.
In another mile, you’ll come to Hempstead Turnpike. Again, the trail joins the paved bike path, crosses an exit ramp from the parkway, passes beneath the overpass, then bears left and diverges from the bike path. In a quarter mile, the trail crosses the bike path, goes under power lines, and continues heading north between the bike path and residential properties on the right.
Soon, you’ll approach the tracks of the Ronkonkoma Branch of the Long Island Rail Road. Ahead, you’ll notice a small brick building. Known as Tower B, this structure was built in 1925 to control the interlocking, a short distance to the east, between the Ronkonkoma Branch and the Central Branch of the railroad. The tower is no longer in service (the interlocking is now controlled remotely). Here, the trail bears left and rejoins the bike path. It follows the bike path under the LIRR overpass and then under the overpass for Central Avenue.
Just beyond the overpass, you’ll notice a white blaze on a tree in the woods on the right. Cross the entrance ramp to the parkway and head into the woods on a footpath that begins to climb. You’ve now reached the southern end of the Ronkonkoma Moraine, and you’ll be following undulating terrain instead of the level terrain that you’ve experienced up to this point. You’ve also entered Bethpage State Park, the terminus of the Bethpage State Parkway.
A short distance ahead, the Nassau-Suffolk Greenbelt Trail descends a slope, rejoins the paved bike path, and crosses a park road (with a traffic circle on the left). In 300 feet, the footpath bears right and diverges from the bike path. As you head north, with a golf course visible through the trees on the right, you’ll begin to experience a little more peace and quiet, as you are no longer following the noisy Bethpage State Parkway. Unfortunately, though, Plainview Road is soon visible below to the left.
After rejoining the bike path, the Nassau-Suffolk Greenbelt Trail crosses a park road. It immediately bears left, leaving the bike path, and follows a footpath between the busy Route 135 on the left and the bike path on the right. The trail briefly rejoins the bike path to go under power lines, but it soon turns left, leaving the bike path.
For the next mile or so, the trail passes through an area with many unmarked roads and trails. It makes a number of turns, so take care to follow the white blazes. You’ll briefly join a few other marked trails along the way. The first part of this area is wooded, but the latter part is characterized by low vegetation and tangled vines.
About 7.5 miles from the start of the hike, you once again join the bike path and reach paved Hay Path Road. Kiosks indicate that you are now entering Trail View State Park. This linear park was created in 2002 along a corridor that was acquired in the 1960s for a proposed extension of the Bethpage State Parkway north to Caumsett State Park on Long Island Sound. The parkway extension was never built, but the state-owned corridor made it possible to establish a continuous trail across the Island, from Massapequa to Cold Spring Harbor. For the rest of the hike, you’ll be following this 500-foot-wide corridor (with short detours to allow for the crossing of the Long Island Expressway and the Northern State Parkway). Three separate paths follow this corridor for the next few miles: a paved bike path, a white-blazed hiking trail (the route that you will follow) and a blue-blazed unpaved mountain bike trail.
After crossing Hay Path Road, the blue-blazed mountain bike trail begins on the left, and then the white-blazed hiking trail bears left, leaving the paved bike path. The trail heads north along the corridor on a wood-chip path, with homes visible on the right. For part of the way, the bike path runs very close to the hiking trail.
In another three-quarters of a mile, the hiking trail briefly rejoins the bike path to cross Old Bethpage Road, and then again bears left and diverges from the bike path. Half a mile beyond, the hiking trail crosses the bike path, and soon afterwards, it rejoins the bike path and crosses Old Country Road at a traffic light. Again, on the north side of the road, the hiking trail bears left and diverges from the bike path
North of Old Country Road, industrial buildings are visible on the right. In half a mile, the trail enters a wooded area, and the blue-blazed mountain bike trail joins the white-blazed hiking trail. Both trails run concurrently for the next two miles.
A short distance beyond, the trail reaches Washington Avenue, which it crosses at a traffic light. On the north side of the road, the trail turns right and crosses beneath the overpass of the Long Island Expressway. The paved bike path now turns left and begins to follow along the expressway, while the white-blazed hiking trail, running jointly with the blue-blazed mountain bike trail, continues ahead. The trail soon bears left, briefly paralleling the expressway, but a short distance ahead it curves to the right, away from this busy road.
The trail proceeds north along undulating terrain, with homes on the right and industrial buildings on the left. After a while, the Northern State Parkway comes into view ahead. The trail bears left and parallels the Parkway, soon climbing on switchbacks.
About a mile and a half from the Long Island Expressway crossing, the trail reaches Sunnyside Boulevard. It turns right, crosses an entrance ramp to the Northern State Parkway, then briefly reenters the woods. It soon bears left, rejoins the paved road, and crosses an overpass spanning the parkway. The trail then turns right and re-enters the woods. Just beyond, the blue-blazed mountain bike trail turns left, diverging from the white-blazed hiking trail.
The Nassau-Suffolk Greenbelt Trail, now once again hiking-only, soon bears left, away from the parkway, and heads north. The trail now begins to traverse hilly terrain characteristic of the Ronkonkoma Moraine. It descends wooden railroad-tie steps, but soon begins to climb, reaching an elevation of about 300 feet above sea level. After crossing an unmarked trail at the highest point, the white-blazed trail continues along the level summit, then descends steadily, with more railroad-tie steps on the way down.
After another short level stretch, with homes on the right, the trail crosses Woodbury Road diagonally to the right and reenters the woods. The blue-blazed mountain bike trail rejoins briefly, but the two trails diverge at a fork just ahead, where the white-blazed hiking trail bears right.
In another third of a mile, the trail reaches the busy Jericho Turnpike (Route 25). You’ve now covered 12.6 miles along the trail. The trail continues on the opposite side of the road, where it reenters the woods to the right of a parking area, but hikers are advised to cross at a traffic light a short distance to the left. If you’ve left a second car here, this is the end of the hike. If you’ve taken the train, you’ll want to continue north to reach the Cold Spring Harbor station.
The next trail section features substantially undulating terrain, with many large trees along the trail. In another 0.9 mile, the trail makes a winding descent to Woodbury Road. To reach the Cold Spring Harbor train station, turn left onto Woodbury Road, and bear right just ahead at the intersection with Syosset-Woodbury Road. Follow Woodbury Road for about 1.2 miles to an intersection with Route 108, just beyond the border with Suffolk County. Here, on the right, you’ll see the large parking lots for the railroad station. Turn right and proceed across the parking lots until you reach the platform for the Cold Spring Harbor station.