Gardiner county park, west Bayshore, ny
The Gardiners were the first European landowners on Long Island dating back to the 17th C. The family still owns Gardiner Island and gave this land to the county a very long time ago. The land is part of Sagtikos Manor, which is across the street. George Washington slept there once.
Length: The size of Gardiner Park is 231 acres. There are many trails. AllTrails app sites a 1.3 mile loop. Really, you can walk as much or as little as you like here. This park is dog-friendly with leash restrictions.
Level of Difficulty: So easy. There's a beach road that goes from the parking lot to the beach for those who want the feel of the forest without the trails. Or, you can wind your way through the forest trails with no worries about getting lost since all trails lead to either the beach road or the expansive lawn near the parking areas.
Restroom facilities: Yes.
Observations of a Forest Therapy Guide: Gardiner Park has many "portals" so entering the park is never about one entrance. For a Forest Therapy guide, a portal is that place between two trees or when the canopy begins that feels like you're entering another world. There are also some 'sense rooms' on side trails that have the feel of entering a more private world; away from those who are walking from one place to another; you are simply 'being'. Some of these are more accessible than others depending on the season and the undergrowth. It took me years to find Thompson's Creek on the eastern-most edge of the park because the undergrowth was so intense, I simply couldn't find the 'unofficial' footpath until wintertime! Now, it's one of my favorite places to step off the main trail and experience a little more quiet and solitude. Depending on the weather, it may be dry or wet off trail, and that can make it more or less attractive. Mud is not my favorite thing to look at. I prefer the bubbling stream. And, it's going to be whatever it is because that's the cycle of the forest.
Back in the off-trail areas, there can be some trash left by humans. Again, I try to bring a bag with me and take it to the nearest trash receptacle along the trails.
There are numerous birdhouses and bat houses along the trails. Still, there are mosquitoes aplenty depending on the time of year. A bug deterrent is essential.
The walk to the beach is about half a mile, give or take. You'll pass through forest and marsh before coming to the beach. It's not vacation beach. It's sand and water, where mostly people play with their dogs. There's quite an expanse of beach, however, so you can continue your walk, depending on the tides, in either direction. You'll have to come back to the beach road to get back to the parking area, though. No loops on the beach.
I love this park for Forest Therapy! The trails are easy and wide; not a lot of roots to trip you up, so you can look up at the trees rather than staring at your feet or the ground. There's enough trails to make it interesting; walks are constantly changing even though I have my favorite trails and spots. People with their dogs adds another charm to the trails: the human community and the more-than-human community enjoying the same space.