A nice trail that wanders through oak forests and farm fields, past salt and freshwater marshes, and along beaches with great views of the surrounding bays.
Leave the visitor center, and take the Red Trail
as it heads southeast towards an area of freshwater marshes. You'll wander through the woods and along ponds for about a mile until you hit the Yellow Trail
, which is essentially a dirt service road. Follow the trail/road along the southern end of the large field as it returns into the woods and becomes the Blue Trail
From here, follow the Blue Trail
for about 2 miles as it crosses the Mashomack Peninsula to the eastern shores of Shelter Island along Gardner's Bay. There will be a landmark identification sign here with a panoramic overlook of Gardner's Bay to the east. The Blue Trail
will then meander south through the woods along salt marshes until it reaches the south-facing beaches overlooking Northwest Harbor. It will then turn back west, running by more salt marshes for just over a mile until it reaches the Green Trail
If you want a slightly shorter hike, you can make a right at the Green Trail
intersection, saving about a mile, but to see more of the preserve, head left (south) and follow it by Bass Creek and Sanctuary Pond, where you'll potentially see more wildlife. After passing some houses at the south end of Sanctuary Pond, the trail will turn back to the northwest and pass Log Cabin Creek and Smith Cove with plenty of water views.
The Green Trail
will then meet and become the Yellow Trail
again at the south end of the meadow that you passed at the beginning of the hike. Take the Yellow Trail
north through the center of the meadow and look for for Eastern Bluebirds and other wildlife in the field. The trail will enter the woods and cross a service road 0.25 mile in.
After crossing the road, you'll be back on the northern part of the Red Trail
as it heads west towards the visitor center and parking lot.