Once a location for a village of the Senecas, a warrior tribe of Iroquios, this lush park became a tourist attraction in the late 1800s, and has expanded to a nearly 600-acre spot for a wide range of activities including swimming, hiking, camping, and exploring.
In addition to the countless hours you could spend exploring the shady trails, waterfalls, and gorges, there is also a playground, tennis court, campground, bathrooms, and plenty of picnicking areas that make this a great spring, summer, and fall destination. Though some of the trails are closed during the winter due to icy conditions, it’s still a great place to bring some cross-country skis once snow falls. They’re open dawn till dusk, and has a $7 admission per vehicle (or grab New York’s Empire pass to make your yearly visits more cost-effective). With a lot for over 60 cars, parking never seems to be an issue, even during the busier summer season.
Stony Brook State Park has multiple moderate hiking trails which are almost 3 miles in total. The terrain consists of magnificent hilly woodlands, the fascinating rock formations and the deep gorge with a rugged cliff overlooking three main waterfalls. Wet rocks, uneven surfaces, and a few stairs, but it is very manageable for hikers of all ages. Although the water looks perfect for wading and splashing around, this has been banned since 2016 due to the disruption to this gorgeous habitat (and can result in a $250 fine). However, there is a great little pool area created by a natural dam, so you can still enjoy a nice cool dip in the brook without causing damage to the habitat. I’d suggest this after a hike because there are few things better to me than a cool swim in the crystal clear waters in the summer after a picturesque hike.
One stop was all it took to get me hooked on this place – the gorge and waterfalls and extremely saturated and diverse plant life that this area of New York is famous for just make this completely worth the visit, even if it’s a bit of a trek to get out there.