Make a Run at Rocky Point

Photo: Courtesy of NYSDEC

Explore one of Long Island’s most extensive singletrack networks.

Don’t let the name fool you. The Central Pine Barrens—a wild landscape at the heart of Long Island—are anything but barren. The rolling-hill terrain shaped by the most recent glacial age is marked by pine and scrub oak forest, with loose, sandy soil and spring-fed creeks full of aquatic life. The sound of song birds fill the canopy. And along the forest edge, you’ll find sprawling ferns, wildflowers, and fruiting blueberry bushes.

For trail runners and hikers seeking to explore these preserved woods, Rocky Point Pine Barrens State Forest is a fitting destination. The Red and Blue trails here combine to make a 10.5-mile loop—the perfect length for a moderately challenging trail run or long day-hike. And it’s all tucked away from the bustle of Long Island off state Route 25A.

Orient Yourself

Rocky Point Pine Barrens State Forest has over 5,000 acres of land managed by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Along with the Red and Blue trails, there are dirt roads and trails for horseback riding and mountain biking.

The land, once home to the Setalcott people, saw use in the first half of the 20th century by the Radio Corporation of America, before RCA grew into an electronics household name. When radio communication transmission technology became obsolete, the company handed over the land to the state. Run the state forest trails, however, and you’re likely to spot some of the historical remnants of the company’s presence.

The best time to visit Rocky Point may be the summer, when the forest is a fresh green and flowers and berries are in bloom. Though, Rocky Point also makes a solid case for the winter, when it’s easy to find solitude on a pair of cross-country skis—on the occurrence, that is, eastern Long Island receives a good winter storm.

Recommended Route

From the trailhead at 25A, head south on the Blue Trail. You’ll notice the Blue Trail shares its markers with the white blazes of a section of the Paumanok Path, Long Island’s long-distance trail. The Blue Trail passes through a forest with larger trees and holly. You’ll quickly encounter a large boulder, or erratic, called Sitting Rock. From here, the trail climbs and rolls as you pass firebreaks and make quick descents into kettle holes.

A little over 5 miles in, you’ll reach the intersection with the Red Trail. The Paumanok Path heads south. Take a left and follow the Red trail north to continue the second half of your trip. If you enjoyed the first half, climb up Sand Hill for more miles in the sprawling and underdeveloped pine forest.

Before You Go

In order to use NY DEC managed lands, a usage permit is required. These permits are free and valid for three years, but must be carried on your outing. More info: 

Added Bonus

The Rocky Point Pine Barrens State Forest is home to multi-use trails including nearly 30 miles of mountain bike trails, including family-friendly, double-track and intermediate and advanced singletrack. Rocky Point is one of the most extensive singletrack networks to be found on Long Island.

Getting There

Rocky Point Pine Barrens State Forest is about 25 miles east of Huntington, N.Y. To get there, take NY 347/25A East to Rocky Point. Once you enter Rocky Point, you’ll see the North Shore Little League field on your right. Continue almost three-quarters of a mile, and the State Forest lot will be on the right.


Just a half-mile east of the main trailhead is Zona Out East Diner, a local go-to that’ll be  familiar to folks who know Zona’s restaurant in Massapequa on the island’s western side. Replace spent trail calories with its diverse menu of steaks, pasta, tasty sandwiches, or breakfast goodies for those early dawn miles. 

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.