Beginner bike rides on Long Island

A bike ride on Long Island can have you pedaling past lovely scenery, following winding paths and meandering through quiet woods.

If you're only now learning to ride, it's easier when you're not sharing the road with speeding cars or more-experienced riders

We asked local bike shop staffers and other enthusiasts for the best trails for beginners on Long Island. Here are some of their picks. (Wherever you bike, take along a helmet and sunglasses for added protection.)

PAVED PATHS

Bethpage State Park to Massapequa Preserve nysparks.state.ny.us/parks

Where to find it: Bethpage State Park (picnic area on the northern end) to the Massapequa Preserve, Merrick Road and Ocean Avenue in Massapequa.

What it offers: It has 7.6 miles of smooth surface for riding. "The greatest thing about this is it's off-road, and it's safer because there's no traffic," says Richard Schary, president of Friends of the Massapequa Preserve. Al Houdlett, owner of Al's Cycle Center (256 Broadway, Amityville, 631-789-2270) agrees. "You see wildlife. There are some sections where you can off-road. It's nice, and no cars." Just be on the lookout for runners, walkers, moped riders and roller skaters, he says.

Cost: $6 parking at Bethpage State Park or for free along Sunrise Highway.

Cedar Creek Park in Seaford to Jones Beach in Wantagh

Where to find it: Nassau County's Cedar Creek (Merrick Road east of Wantagh Avenue, 516-571-7470, nassaucountyny.gov) has a one-mile bike path around the park. In addition, a 4.5-mile trail starts at Cedar Creek Park and runs along the Wantagh State Parkway to Jones Beach State Park (1 Ocean Pkwy., Wantagh, 516-785-1600, nysparks.state.ny.us/parks), near the amphitheater.

What it offers: "Jones Beach is very family-oriented," says John Cerami, general manager at Brands Cycle and Fitness Center (1966 Wantagh Ave., Wantagh, 516-781-6100). "Good scenery -- and you won't get run over by a car. You'll see joggers, people on in-line skates, cyclists with their families."

Heckscher State Park

2 miles of trails that wind through East Islip and Great River (end of Heckscher State Parkway, 631-581-2100). In Nassau, a new county-owned 2-mile trail on the north side of Hempstead Turnpike runs between Hofstra University in Hempstead and Eisenhower Park (Merrick and Stewart avenues, East Meadow, 516-572-0348).

MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAILS

Eastport Mountain Bike Trail, Eastport County Road 51, north of County Road 111 631-444-0273

What it offers: Nine miles of family trails for beginners. "It's just like riding on a dirt road," says Rob St. John, a salesman at Cycles Plus (414 New York Ave., Huntington, 631-479-2548, cyclesplus.com). "It's great for entry-level riders."

Cost: A free, three-year state permit is required (details at dec.ny.gov).

Stillwell Woods Preserve, Syosset South Woods Road, across from Syosset High School nassaucountyny.gov

What it offers: "Stillwell is phenomenal," says St. John of Cycles Plus. "The main loop is only 4 miles. You can do a couple of laps. With kids, you can't be riding 13 miles, so it's a great way to start."

Cost: Free

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