November 21, 2016
First, I rode Hither Hills on Saturday, November 19th (likely the last warm day for a while in the northeast). I mention it for a couple of reasons: Other reviews mention thorns and ticks. I didn't experience either. Likely because of the time of the year. Because most of the leaves have fallen, it likely hid the thorns. It also made the trails a bit difficult to read, Not well defined as they would be during the summer. I was also a little apprehensive because I saw lots of signs for open hunting season (bow only). Rifle hunting season begins on December 1st. Didn't see anyone for most of the ride.
Personally, I thought the trails were pretty difficult. Not that technical but LOTS of uphill-downhill....
I parked at the state park on the south side. Next time I'll park at the overlook. From the state park it was solid uphill to the trailhead. From the overlook you have a few choices.
I started on Petticoat Hill trail which leads down to the east. I made a right and headed northeast on a "somewhat" paved road. It lead parallel to the LIRR railroad tracks. I crossed over to the Stephen Talkhouse trail. Absolutely beautiful. Along the cliffs. Be careful of the sand. Lots to deal with. This is also where I started running into the uphill-downhill sections.
From there I picked the Old North Road. If I remember correctly, it was marked with white blazes. Once I got up to the northeast end of the park (near Rocky Point) things got a little confusing. I didn't think the trails were marked well from this point. I spent some time trying to get my bearings (incuding a loop through Laurel Canyon). That section of the park borders on an old landfill (all grass hills, no garbage, no smell, actually very pretty with a great view). I ended up looping back around until I eventually picked up the white blazes near the recycling center. From there you can take the parkway trail or Old Montauk Road. The parkway trail is essentially next to Montauk Highway. Since I wanted to enjoy the scenery, I stayed on Old Montauk Road (which ran a bit further into the park - but still parallel to the road). That eventually brought me back to the Lookout Point.
Overall a great ride. About 12-13 miles. Not exactly sure since I stopped a couple of times and forgot to start my GPS app once.
Hither Hills State Park is beautiful. However, its virtually impossible to get a campsite during the summer (on the weekends). Day parking is $10... but if you have an Empire Passport, it's free. You can pick up a free map at the park. Not the easiest to read. I relied on some of the reviews here which were very helpful.
You'll also have access to showers, the beach, bathrooms (and depending on the time of the year) a snack bar.
As a mentioned, I rode in November. If you ride during the warm months be mindful of ticks. VERY common on Long Island - especially in Montauk.
Finally, again a seasonal comment: If you go out during the warm months be ready to battle with the traffic. VERY congested during the summer. If you're making a day trip GO EARLY. I would imagine the overlook parking lot (capacity: about 20 cars) fills up quickly.