This New Year is expected to be mild and calm, a perfect time to visit the woods and the shores of the East End on a hike to celebrate the end and the beginning of the years.

The Southampton Trails Preservation Society holds a New Years Eve hike through Sears Bellows County Park in Hampton Bays beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 31. Meet at the parking area on Bellows Pond Road in Hampton Bays for a moderately paced, four-mile hike through the pine barrens, with views of ponds. Call hike leader Liz Karpin for more information at 516-320-0761. More details are at southamptontrails.org.

On Jan. 1, 2024, Rick Whalen leads his annual East Hampton Trails Preservation Society New Years Day hike through Hither Hills State Park, this time celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the park. This six mile hike, which has some hills, includes an ocean and bay side tour of the mostly forested 1,700-acre park, which Robert Moses was instrumental in acquiring in 1924. 

Attendees will want to see Fresh Pond, also known as Hidden Pond, as well as the remote  soundfront coast from Water Fence to Flaggy Hole and beyond. Meet at 10 a.m. at the Hither Hills Overlook (West Overlook) on the north side of Route 27 in Montauk. Bring lunch & liquids for this three-hour hike. Call or email Rick Whalen at 631. 275.8539 or richardwhalen@optonline.net for more information.

More details on the East Hampton hike is at easthamptontrailspreservationsociety.org.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation also hosts several First Day hikes in state parks in Orient, Riverhead and Montauk.

The hike through Hallock State Park Preserve (6062 Sound Avenue in Riverhead), is being held by the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, and includes a beach clean-up and cold-stun sea turtle monitoring walk beginning at 10 a.m. The morning will start with a short presentation in the Visitor Center on sea turtles that frequent Long Island waters and a discussion of what humans can do to help them survive. The beach walk and clean-up will take place unless there is excessive wind, cold, or precipitation. Trash pickers and buckets will be provided. It is suggested that participants bring gloves. Refreshments will be served. 

The hike at Orient Beach State Park (40000 Main Road, Orient) will also begin at 10 a.m. Bring binoculars, and meet in front of the bathhouse. Registration is required. Call 631.323.2440.

The Montauk hike will begin at the park office in the lower parking lot at Montauk Point State Park (by the lighthouse) at Noon. It’s a two to three mile hike exploring the military history and wildlife of Camp Hero State Park. This park is the former home of the Camp Hero Army Base and the Montauk Air Force Station. The park has some of the only oceanfront cliffs on Long Island and also has pristine maritime forests. Bring gloves and a hat, and expect possible cold and windy conditions. Registration is required. Call 631.668.3781.

If you’re not up for hiking through the woods, take a quick cold Plunge at Main Beach in East Hampton to support the work of the East Hampton Food Pantry. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. and the plunge will be at 1 p.m. Preregister online here.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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