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America's Most Beautiful Coastal Walks

Sunken Forest, Fire Island National Seashore, NY

With no cars and more beaches than sidewalks, Fire Island is a welcome haven just beyond New York City. Take a train to Long Island, then the Sayville ferry to Sailor’s Haven. There you can marvel at a rare holly forest that isn’t actually sunken, but merely appears so on the leeward side of sand dunes towering along the 1.5 mile-boardwalk trail. You’re in a freshwater swamp in the midst of a narrow saltwater barrier island, where the sand ecology soaks up rainwater like a sponge.

Challenge Level: Easy.

Essential Gear: Pack a lunch in this fully compostable picnic set; it won’t affect the fragile ecology of the island. (Urban Picnic Box; $25.)

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