Local author Lee McAllister talks about the best areas to hike in his best-selling book
(Long Island, NY) When someone speaks to an outsider about Long Island, the first things that normally pop into their mind when envisioning our fair isle are shopping malls, restaurants, and beaches; what rarely follows those iconic sights, however, are the plethora of rugged, wooden hiking options available as well for the more outdoorsy types out there, but make no mistake…Long Island has many of them, just itching to be explored according to Lee McAllister, Ridge resident and avid hiker.
“It’s not all suburbs, despite what everyone thinks…there’s a lot of open space on Long Island,” he said. “There’s a philosophy of hiking – it’s good for your head – and that’s what makes Long Island interesting, its history and how it was formed, and its impact upon the land.”
McAllister has penned several regional books on the subject detailing the best trails around, including Hiking the Catskills and his most recent release, Hiking Long Island, which he said was driven by his childhood in Plainview at a time when the area was significantly less developed then it is today, noting that, as a child in the 1960’s, he would walk home from elementary school every day, noting remnants of farmhouses along the way; as the years, things changed considerably as more businesses, industries, and residents moved in.
Author Lee McAllister at a speaking engagement in Plainview. Photo Credit: Chris Boyle.
Graduating from Plainview High School back in 1974, upstate hiking became a major pastime of his during his college years, McAllister noted. However, his favorite hiking location has always been the winding and twisting trails that are unique to Long Island alone; the quality of the local cuisine doesn’t hurt either, he said.
“Sure, there are great trails upstate, but there are also great trails on Long Island as well,” he said. “But the restaurants on Long Island are better, and that’s important…I tend to work up a big appetite from hiking all day.”
Published in 2002, Hiking Long Island is currently in its third edition; within its pages, McAllister covers – through both text and self-taken photography – numerous locales throughout Nassau and Suffolk Counties where residents can commune with nature while working up a sweat at the same time, including the Greenbelt Trail, Wellwood Preserve in Glen Cove, Muttentown Preserve in Old Brookville, Montauk Point, Orient Point, Shelter Island, and much more.
Hiking isn’t just good for your body, McAllister notes, but it can do wonders for your mental outlook as well, which is something that anyone working in today’s hectic business environment can certainly use in spades.
“I happened to become a naturalist, a photographer, and a bird watcher out of this, plus it keeps me in shape,” he said. “All of this enhances your hiking so much. You can just walk for exercise, sure, but if you know what’s out there and take the time to appreciate it, it can enhance not only your hiking, but your life as well.”
Hiking Long Island doesn’t just detail where trails are and how to get to them; instead, McAllister attempts to paint a mental picture if what it’s actually like to be on the trails themselves, written in an easy-going style that is both easy to follow and understand, even for a layman, making for a book that is informative and easy to digest as well.
“It’s really easy to write a book that’s boring…’Oh, I’m going from Point A to Point B.’ But I actually talk about what it’s like to actually be on the trails,” he said. “What can you expect to see? What makes it interesting? And some of the unexpected things that can happen out there that can cause concern at the time, but that you can laugh about later on. Sometimes unexpected things happen, and I try to put all of those experiences in my book.”
If you’re interested in picking up a copy of Lee McAllister’s Hiking Long Island, it is available on Amazon.com and local area booksellers.
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