Rocky Point Pine Barrens State Forest located within the towns of Rocky Point, Middle Island and Ridge, NY in Suffolk County features a mix of mountain bike specific singletrack trails, fire roads and MTB skills areas fun for beginners to advanced pros. This is one of the top mountain biking destinations near New York City. The well-maintained trails twist and turn, through and around a unique 6,000 acre Pine Barren woodlands dominated by pitch-pine and scrub-oak typical of the Long Island Central Pine Barrens terrestrial ecosystem of Suffolk County.
There's always something happening and changing within these successional Pine Barren forests and Long Island prarie grasslands. Rocky Point Pine Barren State Forest once was the site of Radio Corporation of America's (RCA) communications and transmission center. On your mountain bike ride you'll see the concrete footings of the 450-ft high Radio Towers.
This type of forest and one that thrives on sandy, nutrient poor soils, requires periodic fires to survive. The understory of mostly Scrub Oak, Low Blueberry, Mountain Laurel, evergreen Bearberry, Huckleberry and low-lying plants such as ferns, mosses and lichens punctutated by seasonal wildflowers create an ethereal forest world to mountain bike through.
The varied trail loop options provide distinctive experiences whether you are looking for a family cycling outing, an easy, scenic mountain bike ride on level fire roads or just want to improve your mountain bike skills and finesse. Of course, during the summer the nearby beaches makes for the perfect endgame to your ride.
Disclaimer: NY DEC User Permit Required (free). Trail closed to mountain bikes from October 31 - April 1 due to hunting.
Mountain Bike Trails - Rocky Point Pine Barrens State Forest
There are 25 named specific mountain bike trails ranging from 0.1 mile to 7.3 miles in length. Several Bail-Out trails are strategically placed around the forest. The East Bail-Out, The West Bail-Out and the 25A Bypass Connector.
Many of the trails described here are well-maintained and marked and / or blazed. The wayfinding system is similar to that of Harriman State Forest, NY. Blazes are usually painted on trees or posts. They also indicate the direction of travel.
Do the Rocky Point Hokey Pokey: a mountain bike ride performed in a circle, or a song describing the simple movements of the bike ride. If you get lost; turn yourself about.
Family Cycling - Beginner
Trail Mileage / Blaze: Loop Trails - Firestone (1.8 miles), Pine (1.5 miles), and the Outback (3.0 miles), White Blazes, Easy
Looking for a Family Cycling outing in the Rocky Point Pine Barrens State Forest? The trail system has been designed to provide the beginner mountain biker with an assortment of easy and scenic routes that provide a great introduction to bicycling off the pavement.
These trails travel on mostly wide, fairly level, double-track and fire roads through the woodlands. While there are few obstructions, you will encounter pavement remnants, sandy patches, some singletrack and a few fun moguls and short hill climbs. It is possible to connect to one or more of the beginner loops to extend your bike ride.
Main Trail - East & West Loop
Trail Mileage / Blaze: Loop Trails - East Trail (7.3 miles), West Trail (7.3 miles) Yellow Blazes, Intermediate, Advanced
Combined, these two trail sections comprise a 14.6 miles one-way direction, warped figure eight loop. It's winding challenging, hard-packed singletrack. The spaghetti-like, twisting, paperclip tight curves and turns will surely make your hair curl. Hills, gullies and whoop-de-doos; riding between trees where the space is just barely wide enough for your handle bars are just some of the technical challenges requiring finesse and laser precision for most of the ride.
Along the way, side spurs off the East Main Trail loop lead into Black Diamond terrain. The Dragon, Rattlesnake, Half Pipe, Fern Valley and more will tempt the more Intermediate-Advanced riders into the extremties.
While the West Loop offers a condensed version of the East Loops' gut wrenching and writhing maneuvers - it's different. The terrain is more varied with extended switch-back hill climbs. It's also the quieter and less-travelled route. You are more likely to encounter wildlife crossing or alongside the trail.
Bail-Outs are strategically placed where the Fire Roads intersect the trail. These provide easier, unobstructed routes to other areas of the trail system or back to your start.
Intermediate-Advanced to PRO
Trail Mileage / Blaze: Black Diamond - Campsite (0.3 mile), Dragon (0.1 mile), Giant Steps (0.2 mile), Half Pipe (0.7 mile), Little Dipper (0.1 mile), Mogul 1 (0.2 mile), Mogul 2 (0.3 mile), Rattlesnake (0.1 mile), Rocky Point Moguls (0.6 mile), Space Landing (0.5), Water Bottle Hill (0.2 mile), and the West Junior (0.1 mile).
Trail Mileage / Blaze: Double Black Diamond - Big Birch (0.2 mile), Fern Valley (0.2 mile), Log Jam (0.2 mile), Over The Hill (0.3 mile), Shorty (0.1 mile).
There are 12 Black Diamond and 5 Extremely Difficult Double Black Diamond MTB Skills Loops and Areas that can be accessed off the West Main Loop. While many find trail ratings subjective, most officially sanctioned mountain bike trails and skill features are designed according to standards which include trail width specifications. This is important. This is where you find out if your handle bars are too wide. Transition from Intermediate to Advanced to PRO safely.
While trail conditions are variable seasonally, the trails are usually hardpacked singletrack. Expect to see some BMX style areas here like the Half Pipe. The trail names pretty much describe the tech. There's everything from stacked mogul and log runs, platform jumps, skinnies, and sand trap areas; and least but not last - unavoidable obstacles like a Big Birch Tree in your path (OOK!) at the end of a mogul run. Bring plenty of water for the Water Bottle hill climb.
Trail Highlights and Nearby Points of Interest
Wildlife Watch & Photo-Ops
Rocky Point Natural Resources Management Area
The Rocky Point Natural Resources Management Area and State Forest's Pine-Oak forests protect the underlying aquifer and also caters to rare and endangered plant, amphibian, bird and animal species. You are likely to see a variety of birds and other animals.
On your hike or bike ride you might enconter White-tailed deer nibbling the grasses that grow alongside the trails. The rustling of a pile of leaves or brush might indicate an Opposum moving things around; they have very sharp teeth. They are usually nocturnal like the raccoon and the Great Horned Owl. Woodchucks are most active in early morning or late afternoon. Watch out for the Quails as they spend a lot of time on the ground in brushy areas, usually running across hot or open areas to cover. Where's there's one there might be two or more following behind . . .
The current Rocky Point and David Sarnoff preserves were once home to Radio Corporation of America's communications and transmission center until it's closing in 1978. It was the world's largest and the beginning of broadcasting networks such as radio and television. Radio Towers at the station were 450 feet tall and capable of transmitting and receiving radio signals across the ocean. That function became obsolete with the arrival of earth orbiting communication satellites and GPS Tracking Systems developed by the U.S. Navy.
The station was used to channel the “hot line” connection between the White House and Kremlin during the height of the Cold War. The site was also used to transmit the “Little America” broadcasts during Richard Byrd’s famous expedition to Antarctica.
RCA and the State Conservation Department, which preceded the DEC, enjoyed a long history of environmental stewardship dating back to 1961 when the first Long Island Fish and Wildlife Management Cooperative was created. Therefore, when RCA closed in 1978, the majority of the Rocky Point property was transferred along with the David Sarnoff Preserve near Riverhead, to the State of New York, Governor Carey presented a token payment of a single silver dollar acquired from a 1972 Environmental Quality Bond Act. Additional acquisitions increased Sarnoff Preserve's total acreage to 2,183 acres, and the Rocky Point Pine Barrens State Forest total acreage to 5,135-acres. Later property acquisions increased the size tio it's present acerage.
From Long Island Expressway Exit 67N (County Rte. 21 - North Rocky Point Road). .Follow north for 6 miles to Whiskey Road. Turn right on Whiskey Road. The main entrance is on the left. Parking areas are located jon Route 25A in Rocky Point (bike trail access only) Whiskey Road just north of Whiskey Road (Bike Trail Access Only).
New York State Forest
NYS DEC - REGION 1 - https://www.dec.ny.gov
Anecdote: In the summer of 2004, we met Paul Falvey, who was at the time, President of C.L.I.M.B. (Concerned Long Island Mountain Biking Association) acting as the "Welcome Committee" in the parking lot of the Rocky Point Natural Resources Management Area. He was with a flourescent orange single-speed bike and wearing matching bike shoes and helmet. I must admit, I was as thrilled as if I was meeting a movie star.
Concerned Long Island Mountain Bicyclists (C.L.I.M.B.)