Heckscher State Park started its life as two sprawling, privately owned estates, both built in the 1800s by wealthy locals George C. Taylor and J. Neal Plum. When the town became interested in making these lands public, a lengthy legal battle ensued. This only came to an end in the 1940s when then-governor Alfred E. Smith stepped in to support the project. After this point, the land was finally acquired, which is when this 1,600-acre piece of land began to be developed for public use.
There are over four miles of paved trails that run throughout the length of Heckscher State Park, providing excellent views and great exercise. Dogs are allowed on all of these paths, provided they're on a leash. Cycling is also very popular on these trails, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled for any bikes zooming past! Soccer, volleyball, and other field-based sports tend to be quite popular here throughout the summer months. Full schedules can be found at the New York Parks official website. Schedules are updated regularly.
If you are looking to have some sort of party or event in Heckscher State Park, the newly refurbished picnic pavilions are available for rental starting April 1st of every year. These all include on-site bathrooms, grilling facilities, and covered pavilions. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed on the pavilions themselves.
Because of this park's perfect location lining the area's Great South Bay, the park tends to be full of boaters, swimmers, and kayakers during the warmer summer months. While no rental exists for canoes or boats, there is a shop beachside that sells inflatables as well as a few doggie items like leashes and snacks. There are also public lockers and showers available for free use, but remember that these are for human use only!
Canine owners should also remember that leashes are required to be no longer than six feet long. Dogs aren't allowed on developed areas other than the paved paths. This includes the beachfront store, all picnic pavilions, and inside of any public buildings. Canine owners aren't encouraged to let their pets greet other animals, unless both parties have agreed, as per the SPCA's Etiquette Guide.