Lions and tigers and bears — oh my! The forest was dense, and twigs scraped against our jeans as we hunted for the Wicked Witch of the West, using sticks as weapons. We wandered off from the yellow brick road to search for a tree with poison apples, and scurried back along the path when we were startled by the witch herself — well, it was really a fuzzy-tailed, gray squirrel, but we were having way too much fun to notice.
My grandsons Thomas and Shane Harmon, 8 and 4, and I weren’t on the road to Oz at all, believe it or not — we were in the middle of the Village of Lynbrook, on the Greis Park Hudson Exercise Trail — close to home, and yet in another world.
I started my search for new walking adventures in a quest to lose weight and to get more fit. Tired of the same scenery, my husband Michael and I would do a “drive and walk,” taking our car to other communities to find new trails. Sometimes we’d walk around a school track, other times on the Long Beach boardwalk. At Hempstead Lake State Park in West Hempstead, we found single, narrow, designated walking paths through untrimmed brush that ran alongside busy Peninsula Boulevard. In our quest to find a place closer to home, Michael and I quite accidentally discovered the Greis Park Hudson Exercise Trail while attending a concert in the park.
The tale of the trail
The Greis Park Trail was built in 2010 on vacant land that was deeded to the Village of Lynbrook in 1989 by Nassau County, which had just obtained the land from the City of New York as part of the city’s effort to dispose of many unused parcels that it owned in the county. Prior to the 2010 improvements, the dirt paths of the heavily wooded area were used for decades for walking and bicycling. The improvements, spearheaded by then Mayor Brian Curran, included new landscaping, attractive lighting, seven exercise stations, benches, and an asphalt path that follows the original half-mile dirt path loop, while still maintaining the natural flora of the area.