|Northern entrance to (now paved) trail extension|
Today’s run (Bethpage State Park): 5.25 miles
Years ago I was at a management off-site in Montauk where we stayed at a well known resort. We arrived late at night and went directly to our rooms. I was pleased to see my small, but cozy, bedroom, with a modest sized window that looked out at the ocean. I went right to bed so I’d be ready for the early morning meetings.When I woke the next morning, I was astonished to discover another room, twice the bedroom’s size, with floor to ceiling windows looking out to the beach.
I had a similar experience this morning at Bethpage State Park, where I planned to run the bike trail. I knew that they were doing work on the north end of the trail but I didn’t really understand what it meant. I decided to explore the paved path that led to the golf courses, since I’d hardly seen them in all the time I’d run there. I first encountered a group flying large, remote control planes over the open field. Very cool, but I couldn’t stop to watch.
As I made my way deeper into the golf course, I was interrupted by a groundskeeper who told me I couldn’t run there and that I needed to head – immediately – to the bike trail. When he realized I wasn’t trying to break any rules he got nicer and explained the risk of flying golf balls. I turned back to where I began, and decided to explore what looked like a small section of newly paved trail that extended off the driveway leading to the parking lot.
I saw other runners running there and became curious how far this path would go. I expected the answer to be a few hundred feet, but then I saw a runner turning around and heading the other way. I was amazed. Clearly the trail went far enough to be worth a return run. I followed the paved path and saw that it continued past my line of sight. A teenage runner coming from the other direction asked me how far the path led. I asked him the same, and he said “about 20 minutes.” Hmmm.
This new trail was like a gift. I read that they were extending the bike trail at some point but I didn’t think they’d actually done it. Soon I realized that the patch of paved road that I’d recently encountered after coming to the end of a dirt path was part of this trail. Like the rest of the bike path, this extended portion was rolling, with some tough hills along the way.
I followed the extension to where it ends on Haypath Road. I saw that I could cross the street and pick up the Trailview path that runs all the way north to Cold Spring Harbor. Instead of doing that, I decided to head back. I didn’t bring any water and I was beginning to feel overheated. The hills were no kinder on the way back but I welcomed them. When I got to the end, I doubled back another half mile for the distance and ended up covering 5.25 miles altogether.
I’m very excited about this new extension for many reasons. First, I now have another option to run at Bethpage when I don’t feel like doing the usual bike trail. Second, the new bike trail section has numerous exits into the wooded trails that provide options for combining trail and road running. Third, I can now explore Trailview as it goes further north. Theoretically, I will be able to run from Bethpage into my own town. With a few busy streets in the way that might be too good to be true. But you never know.