Long Island Trail Lovers Coalition

preserving, protecting and enhancing
our nature and recreation trails



Southaven / Shirley

Southaven County Park




Here’s a place well worth the visit, especially if you are on your way to the Hamptons and hear that the traffic on CR 39 has ground to a halt, or if you live nearby and you want to take a lovely nature walk. You may be interested to learn that Southaven County Park was the first park opened by The Suffolk County Department of Parks. Facilities include picnic areas, bridle paths (need SCP permit), campsites, and rowboat rentals.  You can also enjoy freshwater fishing, waterfowl hunting, and canoeing here.  For more information, call the park office at 631-854-1414.

To get to the park from Sunrise Highway:  take exit 58 and head north on William Floyd Parkway.  Immediately get into the left lane in order to make a left turn onto Victory Avenue.  This is the North Service Road for Sunrise Highway.  You will see the Carmans River on your right, pass a closed gated entrance, and then enter at the next entrance.  The Park Police Office is on the left as you enter, and little farther up the road, there is an informational kiosk.  You may wish to stop here and pick up some guides, pamphlets, and newsletters.  Continue straight ahead to the northeast corner of the main parking field.

There are many dirt roads, hunting and fishing paths, and unmarked trails in the park.  However, there appears to be only one formal hiking trail; it’s about 3 miles long.  To find it from the main parking area, walk in an easterly direction, through picnic area #2.  Before you reach the river, you will intercept the trail.  This was once a heavily used bridle path, but when I visited, the trail tread was stable and comfortable for walking.  Heading south, the trail travels upslope onto a ridge that forms a bluff looking out onto the river.  A dense white pine copse creates a cathedral of wood columns.  The trail ends by the shoreline near the wide section of the Carmans River just north of Victory Avenue.  This is where the rowboat concession stood before it was kindly moved north, away from an osprey nest.  If you look upslope from the river, you can see the Park Police Headquarters.

On the way back up the trail, a path on the left to the now empty stables shows the origin of this trail.  At this point, you will start noticing that the trail is marked with faded white painted rectangles.  Continue in a northerly direction to the beginning of two diverging trails that meet further up the river to form a roughly oval shaped trail.  If you take the trail to the right, you’ll see wetlands on your right.  Less than a mile along the trail, you’ll hear the mild roar of water falling to a spillway.  A short distance after returning to the main path, the trail turns to the left and heads back south.  The arc of trail leads you back and takes you through a mature pitch pine, oak wood.  There is hunting Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, from sunrise until noon during waterfowl hunting season (December1 – January 27).  Some of the trails near the river are restricted, but if you stay on this main trail, you’ll be safe.  The shotgun reports that you can hear from the trail are coming from the trap and skeet shooting range also located in the park.

The single entrance from Victory Avenue at the southwest corner of this 1,356 acre park, leads visitors to the main parking area.  This park is becoming more hiker-friendly.  I expect that soon a kiosk with a park map will be erected at the main parking lot, and there will probably be an arrow sign, and a few yellow blazes leading to the trail.  The beautiful views of the river and the extraordinary diversity of ecology, makes this a great venue for hiking.  The presence of both a Park Police Headquarters and Park Police Office on the grounds provides a feeling of safety for the lone hiker.  One downside during this time of year; the restroom facilities are closed for the winter months.  Take a visit to this park; you’ll be glad you did!

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Long Island Trail Lovers Coalition

Ken Kindler
Open Space & Trails Advocate
Post Office Box 1466
Sayville NY 11782
Phone:(631) 563-4354

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