The North Shore Rail Trail — linking Port Jeff to Wading River — is done after 50 years


A 10-mile recreational path from Port Jefferson to Wading River in the works since the 1970s is officially open to the public.

The North Shore Rail Trail is a multi-use trail built along the Wading River railway, which was abandoned in 1939 and is now owned by the Long Island Power Authority. 

This continuation of the Green Trail, which runs from Setauket to Port Jefferson Station, provides a safe outlet for people to run, walk, hike, or bike and will offer such amenities as bike depots in the future.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker, other local officials, community members, and advocates celebrated the momentous occasion with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 10.

“As a community, we needed this, and my number-one priority in making this happen was and still continues to be is public safety,” Anker said. “Making sure our residents, especially our kids have a safe place to ride their bikes, jog, walk, to do whatever brings them out into the sunlight and this beautiful community.”

When Anker took office in 2011, she made the completion of this trail one of her top priorities and received the support of local biking and walking groups, community members, and other stakeholders.

Anker formed the Rails to Trails Roundtable in 2016 with representatives from each civic association in her district where they discussed community concerns with the North Shore Rail Trail and how they plan to maintain it.

Following the groundbreaking for the trail in 2019, the pandemic struck Suffolk County and put the project on hold.

After pandemic complications, supply chain issues and poor weather conditions, the Suffolk County Department of Public Works and DF Stone Contracting worked to finally make the $8 million project a reality.

The North Shore Rail Trail is part of Suffolk County’s Countywide Hike and Bike Master Plan, which is a comprehensive vision to create a connected network of hiking and biking trails for transportation, recreation, tourism, and economic development.

The plan recommends over 1,200 miles of bike facilities, which would place 84 percent of Suffolk County residents within a half-mile of a hike or bike facility.

“Suffolk County’s roads have consistently fallen on the national list of the most dangerous for bicyclists and pedestrians,” said Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn. “This is the kind of vision we need to turn that around.”

Marty Buchman, an avid bicyclist and the owner of The Stony Brookside Bed & Bike Inn, approached the crowd with a broken leg and crutches to speak on why Long Island needs more recreational trails like this.

“For the second time in five years, I’ve been the survivor of what could have been a fatal bike crash,” Buchman said. “Bike trails are essential … Suffolk County was never designed to hold this automobile infrastructure, and it’s time for bikes to stop competing with cars.”

Anker added that The North Shore Rail Trail offers a green transportation alternative that will reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality, and encourage healthier lifestyles.

“I’m a dog with a bone, and that bone wasn’t going to go anywhere,” Anker said. “This project was going to get done … It did take a lot of connecting the dots and a lot of cooperation, but we’ve proven that when we focus on the goal and work together, we can be successful.”

Top photo: The ribbon-cutting for the North Shore Rail Trail. (Sarah Anker’s Facebook page).