Winter Running on the Bethpage Bikeway

When hours of sunlight are at a premium, ditch the drive and hit the path.

Reaching your favorite running destination can be an act of self-inflicted frustration in central Long Island traffic. Here’s a better idea: Grab your running shoes and hit the pavement without joining the bottleneck by hopping on the Bethpage Bikeway.

Orient Yourself

The Bethpage Bikeway is a paved, 13-mile pedestrian trail that runs north-to-south, connecting residential neighborhoods at each end of the island. The bikeway provides a vehicle-free greenway to escape the grind (though at times you’ll parallel roads and encounter some crossings). But wait, it gets better. The bikeway passes through three of central Long Island’s favorite open spaces: Trail View State Park, Bethpage State Park, and Massapequa Preserve. So, no matter which end provides closer access, you can jump on the path with minimal drive time.

For road runners, the paved path offers a marathon-length out-and-back. For trail runners, the bikeway is a treasured onramp to miles of dirt trails within each of the three state parks—notably so at Trail View and Bethpage parks, the largest network of greenspace along the route. The bikeway and other park trails adjoin at numerous points, providing endless loop options right in the heart of Long Island suburbia. And to top it off, the bikeway is accessible year-round, though snow or ice could be present depending on local weather. Runners should factor path conditions, as it does not receive winter maintenance after storms, consider traction devices and outfit accordingly.

Recommended Route

To get the best variety of all the miles available, start at the Trail View State Park trailhead on Executive Drive, and follow the Bethpage Bikeway south for a roughly 7-mile out-and-back route. Almost immediately you’ll parallel a pair of Trail View’s north-to-south trails: the blue-blazed CLIMB mountain bike trail and the Nassau-Suffolk Greenbelt. If you can’t wait to peel away from the pavement, the CLIMB path provides more technical terrain thanks to the switchbacks shortly after crossing Old Country Road. Both trails intersect with the paved bikeway at multiple points over the next 2 miles to Bethpage State Park.

At the northern edge of Bethpage State Park, trail options begin to open up for runners, with 15 different trails across 1,476 acres (though much of that space is its renowned golf course). This means the trail network is condensed, and you can design a variety of runs. Trail surfaces, widths, and conditions are diverse, but for the most part you will find packed-dirt singletrack.

Because the Bethpage park layout can be a bit tricky, for your first trip through, trace a roughly 3-mile loop around the perimeter of the northern segment of the park. Heading south on the bikeway from Haypath Road and entering the northern edge of Bethpage State Park, turn left onto the Yellow Trail and continue until it intersects with the Cross-Country Trail. Next, hop on the Red Trail south as it wraps around the lower portion of the network. You’ll eventually come to the large parking lot for Bethpage State Park. If the first stretch was enough, you can find the bikeway here and follow it back north. To continue on, follow the Blue Trail, a shared-use trail with mountain bikers, in the southeast corner of the parking lot. Follow the Blue Trail along the western perimeter of the park until it intersects with the bikeway once again to start kicking asphalt back to Executive Drive.

Want to stick to the pavement? The sections through Trail View and Bethpage are still some of the most alluring sections of the bikeway. Use the same trailhead and directions above, but instead of veering into the parallel trails or the loop at Bethpage State Park, continue to the park’s southern, main-entrance circle, and then head back for an out-and-back that totals just over 9 miles.


Getting There

There are access points throughout the Bethpage Bikeway. To reach the northern end of Trail View State Park and the bikeway start to the recommended route, take Interstate 495 toward Exit 46. After taking Exit 46, continue onto Executive Drive East. After crossing Washington Avenue take the South Service Road ramp on the right. Turn left onto Washington Avenue, then take the next right on Executive Drive. The trailhead will be on your right.


Refresh & Refuel

Grab a plate of warm post-run grub and enjoy a pint from local Long Island breweries at Morrison’s.

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.