The sand dunes along the eastern shore of Lake Ontario are an integral part of a coastal barrier environment that consists of beaches, sand dunes, embayments and wetlands.

This barrier system, which extends for roughly 17 miles, contains the largest and most extensive freshwater sand dune formations in New York State.

Discover more about this fascinating coastal environment, including it's flora and fauna, the trails and boat routes available, and how you can help protect this area.

Southwick Beach State Park

A 500-acre area managed by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. Southwick is spacious and popular, known for outstanding swimming and sunning on its long sandy beach as well as abundant picnic areas and playing fields. The park is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day for swimming and camping. During the winter, hiking, cross-country skiing and snowmobilers are permitted in the park.


For more information, please visit the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation website.

Lake Ontario Dune Trail

Trail marker: 12, Green
Trail length: Main trail (11A) is a 2.0-mile loop; short trail (11B) is a 0.7-mile loop; and trail to Lakeview Marsh Wildlife Management Area (11C) is 0.6 miles (one way) Difficulty: Easy
Type of use: Hiking
Trail description: The trail starts at Southwick Beach, passes through Lakeview Marsh WMA, and loops back to Southwick Beach. Along the way, you'll see many different habitats: woodlands, abandoned apple orchards, meadows, red cedar-maple forests, marshes, and sand dunes. A dune walkover on the trail enables you to cross the dunes without harming them. After crossing the walkover, take a right on the beach and follow it back to Southwick Beach State Park. This trail can be muddy so wear your boots!

If you are interested in hiking a shorter loop, take the first left turn you come to (trail 11B). This trail goes through abandoned apple orchards.

The second left turn you come to (trail 11C) will take you to the Lakeview Marsh Wildlife Management Area boat launch on Pierrepont Road. This trail passes through woodlands and meadows.

How to get there: Take Route 3 to the Southwick Beach State Park entrance road. The trailhead is opposite the park's entrance booth.