Sunday, September 2, 2012

A big surprise at the Bethpage bike trail

Northern entrance to (now paved) trail extension
Today's run (Bethpage State Park): 5.25 miles

Years ago I was at a management off-site in Montauk where we stayed at a well known resort. We arrived late at night and went directly to our rooms. I was pleased to see my small, but cozy, bedroom, with a modest sized window that looked out at the ocean. I went right to bed so I'd be ready for the early morning meetings.When I woke the next morning, I was astonished to discover another room, twice the bedroom's size, with floor to ceiling windows looking out to the beach.

I had a similar experience this morning at Bethpage State Park, where I planned to run the bike trail. I knew that they were doing work on the north end of the trail but I didn't really understand what it meant. I decided to explore the paved path that led to the golf courses, since I'd hardly seen them in all the time I'd run there. I first encountered a group flying large, remote control planes over the open field. Very cool, but I couldn't stop to watch.

As I made my way deeper into the golf course, I was interrupted by a groundskeeper who told me I couldn't run there and that I needed to head - immediately - to the bike trail. When he realized I wasn't trying to break any rules he got nicer and explained the risk of flying golf balls. I turned back to where I began, and decided to explore what looked like a small section of newly paved trail that extended off the driveway leading to the parking lot.

I saw other runners running there and became curious how far this path would go. I expected the answer to be a few hundred feet, but then I saw a runner turning around and heading the other way. I was amazed. Clearly the trail went far enough to be worth a return run. I followed the paved path and saw that it continued past my line of sight. A teenage runner coming from the other direction asked me how far the path led. I asked him the same, and he said "about 20 minutes." Hmmm.

This new trail was like a gift. I read that they were extending the bike trail at some point but I didn't think they'd actually done it. Soon I realized that the patch of paved road that I'd recently encountered after coming to the end of a dirt path was part of this trail. Like the rest of the bike path, this extended portion was rolling, with some tough hills along the way.

I followed the extension to where it ends on Haypath Road. I saw that I could cross the street and pick up the Trailview path that runs all the way north to Cold Spring Harbor. Instead of doing that, I decided to head back. I didn't bring any water and I was beginning to feel overheated. The hills were no kinder on the way back but I welcomed them. When I got to the end, I doubled back another half mile for the distance and ended up covering 5.25 miles altogether.

I'm very excited about this new extension for many reasons. First, I now have another option to run at Bethpage when I don't feel like doing the usual bike trail. Second, the new bike trail section has numerous exits into the wooded trails that provide options for combining trail and road running. Third, I can now explore Trailview as it goes further north. Theoretically, I will be able to run from Bethpage into my own town. With a few busy streets in the way that might be too good to be true. But you never know.

6 comments:

  1. You can pick up the new paved trail at Washington Ave, Old Country Rd or Old Bethpage Rd. South on paved portion through park to Merrick Road. I run or bike them just about every day and find I prefer the paved to the dirt/ single tracks.

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  2. Is the trail paved all the way north to Washington Ave? That would be great.

    I like the paved trails but I also like the wooded trails. Nice to have the option of switching between both on a single run.

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  3. As of now it's paved at least to Washington, by fall it will hopefully be completed all the way to Jericho Tpk in Syosset. I ran the dirt trails forever, was upset they were paving paradise but I'm loving the paved, easy going, no cars, no brush, nothing to trip on.

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  4. Thanks for the tip. I ran it again this morning and followed it as far north as Old Country Rd. I'm trying to figure out how the Wash. Ave. section will continue to the Trailview head in Syosset. I noticed that they've paved some bike trails in Woodbury on Sunnyside Blvd extension. Could that be part of this?

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  5. I think you have to cross Washington head East a bit then enter again, I was on the other side of Washington today and looked over but didn't cross. Yes, the paved trails at Sunnyside are part of this. There's a map somewhere posted on one of the biking forums, if I find it I'll post the link .

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