The Hamptons are a popular summertime destination for New Yorkers looking for a getaway that feels far from the city. We visited the Hamptons and Montauk on a day trip and were really surprised at how peaceful and beautiful it was! I had heard a lot about the Hamptons, but I had never really heard about all the cool nature spots that are there. I created this guide with all the awesome outdoor spaces I wish I had known about before visiting the Hamptons!
Where is the Hamptons?
The Hamptons are at the very end of Long Island. Without traffic, by car it takes about 2.5 hours from New York City, but with traffic it can take 4 or more hours depending the time of day you’re traveling.
How to get to the Hamptons
There are several ways to get to the Hamptons, with the most common ways being by car or Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). To visit the outdoor spaces listed in this guide, the best way to get to the Hamptons is by car if that is an option to you. Having a car will allow you to drive to all of the different nature spaces in the Hamptons. However, if going by LIRR is your only option, it is still doable to see outdoor spaces. The LIRR takes around 3.5 hours from Penn Station to Montauk.
Getting around the Hamptons
Montauk is the most central town to all the nature areas in the Hamptons. Most of the best outdoor places in the Hamptons are within minutes of Montauk. Camp Hero State Park and Montauk Point State Park have larger parking lots for parking, while Shadmoor State Park and Hither Hills State Park have much smaller parking areas which is something to take into consideration when planning your trip.
If you arrive to the Hamptons via the LIRR, you should get off at the Montauk Branch station. Some people choose to Uber from Montauk to some of the surrounding state parks, but please note that cell service is spotty and it could be a VERY expensive Uber. The MTA does shuttles from the end of the LIRR to some of the state parks in the area which you can find more info about on their website.
Nature in the Hamptons
Note: Most of these state parks require a parking fee, but the New York Empire Pass works at all of these parks. The Empire Pass is an $80 pass that allows you into any New York State Park for free for all year. We have saved so much money by using the Empire Pass!
Montauk Point State Park
Montauk Point State Park is located at the very end of the Long Island and is the easternmost point of New York State. The Montauk Lighthouse was completed in 1796. Here you can walk along the beach, view wildlife, or tour the lighthouse. We did not tour the lighthouse because it was a little bit too pricey for us and it was a foggy day, but if you wish to tour the lighthouse, you can purchase tickets at the visitor center there.
To reach the beach, take the path to the left of the visitor center. The beach at Montauk Point is very rocky. From the beach, there is a nice view of the lighthouse. We walked along the beach for a while and watched a large group of big birds sitting on rocks in the water. When you want to return to your car, you can return back on the beach or take one of the many trails leaving the beach up into the wetland areas.
While we spent a short time here, you could easily spend all day on the trails here. There is a spot where you can see seals at some points of the year and an inland pond you can hike along. Using the Montauk Point State Park trail map is helpful to find the best trail for you!
Camp Hero State Park
Camp Hero State Park is beside Montauk Point State Park. It used to be a military base called Montauk Air Force Station where supposedly there were many strange laboratory experiments conducted. The series “Stranger Things” is actually based off of everything that happened here where Camp Hero State Park is located. Regardless of its history, there is definitely some beautiful nature here.
We visited the Turtle Cove Beach which is below the bluffs of Camp Hero State Park. Turtle Cove Beach can be accessed from a small trail to the right of the Montauk Point State Park Visitor Center. The Camp Hero State Park map shows exactly where you can find the trail. Follow the small path leading down to a very rocky beach. You can walk along the very rocky beach which is technically not part of Camp Hero, but the big rocky bluffs behind the beach are part of Camp Hero State Park. From Turtle Beach, you can also have views of the Montauk Point Lighthouse too.
Camp Hero State Park has many hiking trails through forests and along beaches. There are viewpoints of different military batteries and old structures from the military base. The Camp Hero Trail Map can be found on their website.
Shadmoor State Park
Shadmoor State Park is my favorite nature area we visited in the Hamptons. It is smaller than some of the other state parks in the area, but it is less popular and less crowded.
From the small parking lot, there is one main trail that branches off in different places. I recommend taking the main trail in a counterclockwise fashion. The Shadmoor State Park trail map is useful to have. As the trail goes towards the ocean, there are few small side trails that take you to old military batteries if you are interested in stopping. Eventually the trail reaches the bluffs at the ocean and you will have expansive views of the ocean. The trail follows along the coast where there are viewpoints all along the way. If you’re lucky, you may see surfers down below surfing in the blue water. I loved seeing the huge craggy bluffs contrast against the blue water.
Hither Hills State Park
Hither Hills State Park is west of Montauk. The park has camping and beach front, but the most unique (and best) part of the park is in a lesser visited part of the park.
The Walking Dunes Trail is a super unique and cool trail to visit while you’re in the area. The Walking Dunes are giant sand dunes that move every year and cover forests when they move. At the beginning of the trail, there is a box of pamphlets with information about different points on the trail which I thought was very interesting to have along the trail. Follow the trail which starts by skirting the outside of the dunes through a forest half covered in sand. Then the trail goes over a dune and takes you into the middle of the dunes through the ecosystems living within the dunes. Eventually the trail ends on Iodine Beach which is named such due to the bright orange-brown color of the sand.
There are many different trails in Hither Hills State Park, with the Walking Dunes just being one small trail of all of the available ones! You can find more trails in Hither Hills on the Hither Hills State Park Trail Map.
Napeague State Park
Napeague State Park is another state park very close to the Hither Hills State Park. There are many trails throughout sandy pine forests. Bird watchers enjoy it as a peaceful place to look for unique birds. Although we weren’t able to stop and try the hikes here, it will definitely be one of the places we stop next time we are in the area. One of the main trails is the Napeague Loop.
These five nature areas are definitely worth a trip out to the Hamptons. The Hamptons have so many beautiful places in nature that can be explored by all. I hope you’re able to visit!
What nature spaces in the Hamptons did I miss? Let me know down below in the comments!