Hiking Trails

Imagine the Perfect North Fork Park

North Fork is full of public parks.

Beaches, sports facilities, playgrounds, hiking trails – collectively there is something for everyone at the parks in the towns of Southold and Riverhead.

But imagine for a moment that we could take the best feature of each to create a single megapark with all the amenities you would want in a community park. Think Central Park on North Fork.

While this is just a grand fantasy, let it serve as your cheat sheet for the best features of each local park.

Our perfect North Fork Park would include…

Orient Beach State Park. (Credit: David Benthal)

…the entrance road, kayak rental hut, and playgrounds at Orient Beach State Park.

There’s no driveway quite like this majestic Orient Point gem, where they’ve posted a wildlife crossing sign – and they really mean it. Look east and watch the ferry depart for New London or west for views across the river. While we’re there, we also take the kayak rental stand and the variety of playgrounds – suitable for all ages – from here.

The sun sets over Jean Cochran Park in Peconic on Thursday, (Kelly Zegers/northforker)

… the sports fields at Jean Cochran and Tasker parks in Peconic.

The pickleball courts here have become a real community favorite. But it’s also home to the North Fork Ospreys baseball club every summer and has tennis courts, a hockey rink, and basketball courts.

Inside the camera obscura. (Credit: David Benthal)

… the carousel, the green space, the camera obscura and the Mitchell Park ice rink.

The pride of Greenport’s Front Street, this wonder of public space would be the centerpiece of our dreamscape. Moor your boat and ride the carousel in the summer, or take in the 360-degree view of the harbor and strap on your skates in the shoulder season. The lawn is also a great place for a family to take a break and watch the kids run around.

Hallock State Park in Riverhead. (Credit: David Benthal)

… the hiking trails of Hallock State Park Preserve.

Some of our favorite hikes are those that lead to a beach, and this little network of trails doesn’t disappoint.

The sun sets in Southold. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

… the sunsets from Kenney’s Beach in Southold.

We always favor the sound side when it comes to watching the sunset, and this more hidden location in Southold offers unique, forward-facing views as the sun seemingly falls straight into the water.

New Suffolk Beach. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

… New Suffolk Beach.

There’s one thing about New Suffolk Beach that no other public beach in the North Fork can boast: it’s located in New Suffolk. Wonderful hidden communities produce stunning beaches. The view of Robins Island is a plus.

The historic Horton Point Lighthouse in Southold. (Credit: Tara Smith)

…the Horton Point Lighthouse and Museum.

The terrestrial location of this lighthouse makes it easily accessible. And what a gem it is. The grounds here are also a great place for a picnic.

A seagull stands guard on the Peconic Riverfront in Riverhead. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

... the boardwalk from Peconic Riverfront Park to Riverhead.

Moor along the river, grab a sandwich on a bench and watch the ducks swim by, or stroll to the Long Island Aquarium from this riverside walking area.

Greenport skate park. (Credit: Tara Smith)

… Moore’s Lane skate park in Greenport.

Although it’s detached from other public grounds in the village, we like that Greenport has made room for kids who prefer a skateboard to a lacrosse stick.

Wading River Beach. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

… Wading River Beach Relic Beach Cleaning Baskets.

These plastic baskets, like those found in a supermarket, are a simple way for bathers to keep the space clean.

Fishermen at Trumans Beach. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

… Bluefish from Truman’s Beach in East Marion.

What a joy to see the fishermen line up when bluefish bite here each fall.

The EPCAL cycle path. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

…the Enterprise Park bike path in Calverton.

At over nine miles long, there’s no place like this path, which runs from Route 25 to River Road.

Indian Island County Golf Course. (Credit: Riverhead News-Review)

… Indian Island County Park Golf Course.

It makes perfect sense to us that a public recreation area also includes the ability to play 18 holes.

Reflections, Art In The Park. (Credit: file photo)

…the art exhibitions and performance space of Grangebel Park in Riverhead.

The annual Reflexions Art in the Park exhibit makes late summer evenings a great time to visit this downtown park. The small amphitheater is also a nice touch for public performances.

Lobster feast at the Wharf House at Founder’s Landing. (Credit: David Benthal)

… the Wharf House at Founder’s Landing in Southold.

There are a few community centers in the Parks Quarter spaces in Southold Town, but this one, used for private events, is our favourite. Find out during the lobster festival.

dog parks north fork epcal calverton
‘Isaac Park’ at EPCAL in Calverton. (Credit: Riverhead News-Review)

… the Isaac Dog Park at Veterans Park in Calverton.

You have to remember man’s best friend when building the perfect park and in this city park in Riverhead they took care of our four-legged friends in the planning process.

Our wishlist of parks

We enjoy our many North Fork parks, but there are some amenities we would like to see somewhere. Here are some ideas for new additions.

  • water park
  • public swimming pool and slide
  • clams and tiki bar
  • arboretum and sculpture garden
  • permanent event space for concerts and screenings