Long Island Trail Lovers Coalition

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Connetquot River State Park Preserve

 

 

Every day, I receive phone calls and e-mails from people who read this column and visit the hike-li.org and litlc.org websites.  People have questions about hiking groups, specific trails, where they can take their dogs, and much more.  Recently I’ve noticed an increase in parents and teachers asking where they can take kids to experience nature.  I visited Connetquot River State Park Preserve with the intention of seeing the trout hatchery before it is closed down; to my delight, I found a nature adventure, for children and adults.  At the hatchery, I saw parents reading the informational kiosks to their children and sharing their wonder at the many fish swimming in the holding troughs.  These informative kiosks are located throughout the preserve, especially on the yellow trail leading up to the trout hatchery.

To get to the hatchery I followed yellow arrows along with the white-painted rectangles of the Long Island Greenbelt Trail from the parking area at the entrance to the preserve.  Near the hatchery, I spied red arrows marking a trail.  This trail took me on a loop over picturesque brooks spanned by bridges. After a couple of miles, it led between the grist mill and the renovated Sportsmen’s Club building.  The trail tread was comfortable to walk and the wetland plants were lovely, but what struck me even more were the people:  parents walking with their children, boy scouts from Melville (troop 457), and Molly Hastings, a State Park naturalist giving a General Nature Hike to a group of parents and children.  (Environmental Education Center 631-581-1072)

On another day, I started a six-hour walk at Wheeler Road less than a mile south of Connetquot Preserve.  I followed the Greenbelt Trail north to the entrance of the preserve, walked by the grist mill, and followed the blue and red arrows.  This time where the two trails split I followed the blue arrows about four miles north on Cordwood Road.  On this horse trail, I met a woman and her young niece on horseback who wanted me to take their picture.  Eventually this trail intersected the Greenbelt Trail, and I decided to follow it north across Veterans Highway.  There’s a chain link fence all around the preserve.  I checked out many of the trails heading east from Cordwood Road, and was delighted to find that they led to gates provided by State Parks so that neighbors could easily access the preserve.  The first few trails branching east from Cordwood run through lovely wetlands.  Most of the gates are locked to protect these sensitive areas.  Continuing north, I reached Veterans Highway.  Beyond the gate, there are pedestrian crossing signs and lines painted on the road.  Nearby traffic lights, allow for gaps in the traffic, so be patient and cross safely.  About a mile and a half after crossing Veterans Highway, I arrived at Lakeland County Park off Johnson Avenue.  The bridges, boardwalks, and water views are well worth this excursion; then I turned around and headed south.  I followed the Greenbelt Trail back across the highway, and for four miles through Connetquot State Preserve.  Leaving the preserve, the trail runs a short distance parallel to Sunrise Highway.  I enjoyed an exciting walk on a foot bridge that runs under the highway and over the river then along Brook Pond and back to my car parked by the playing fields off Wheeler Road. The Long Island Greenbelt Trail Conference created and maintains this 34-mile trail that runs from north to south across the Island; I walked only a south shore segment.   To find places to park your car, and follow the trail, purchase a map of the Greenbelt at the museum and gift shop in the Main House or call the LIGTC, 631-360-0753

There are fifty miles of trails in this 3,473-acre preserve. The long horse trails are excellent for running and cross country skiing.  Horses are easily frightened though, so when approaching, greet the rider at a distance. This assures the horse that you are human, not an exotic predator.  Move aside and don’t make abrupt movements.  A fast moving silent bicycle will also scare a horse; this is why they aren’t allowed in the preserve.  A permit is needed for access to the preserve.  Permits purchased at the gate are $6, but can be obtained free of charge by writing to Connetquot River State Park Preserve; P.O. Box 505; Oakdale, NY 11769.  If you do not wish to wait for a response by mail before visiting, pay the initial entrance fee and give the person at the gate a self addressed stamped envelope.  During winter, park closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Driving directions from the west (it’s a nice stop on your way to the Hamptons): Southern State Parkway east to exit 44 to Sunrise Highway (Route 27) exit 47A.  Take Oakdale-Bohemia Road to the service road west.  The entrance is one mile west of Pond Road.  Preserve Office: 631-581-1005

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Long Island Trail Lovers Coalition

Ken Kindler
Open Space & Trails Advocate
Post Office Box 1466
Sayville NY 11782
ken@litlc.org

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