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CALVERTON PONDS PRESERVE
 

 

Denis and Catherine Krusos Ecological Research Area
Calverton
Suffolk County, NY
350 Acres
Coastal Plain Ponds, Barrens

****Interpretive brochure is usually available at the kiosk by the Old River Road entrance****

Almost two decade ago, Bill, a friend of mine, asked me if I was interested in visiting a really pretty place. We parked at The Nature Conservancy Calverton Ponds Preserve and visited three beautiful coastal plain ponds. We observed osprey, egrets, frogs, and fish and inhaled the scent of pine, wintergreen and spice fern. We walked on trails through Pine Barrens woods, our footsteps cushioned by slowly decaying oak leaves and pine needles.

Since this was one of my first forays into nature, Bill gave me a lesson about dealing with ticks. Before we walked through the grassy areas, he showed me how to tuck my pants into my socks. It looks weird but it is an effective means of preventing the ticks from attaching themselves to you. He reminded me that every time we walked through a grassy area or in a place where the bush crowded the trail, to check my pants legs. He had suggested that I wear light colored clothing, so it was now easy to see the dark little dots working their way up my pants legs. “They always head directly north,” he observed. “It’s the fact that they are predictable that makes them easy to deal with.” He continued, almost pedantically, “They seem to have a negative geotropism. The ones that make it to the neck or head of their hosts are safer from being nipped off or rubbed off, and they survive to have offspring. Just check your clothes often, keep your shirt tucked in your pants, pick them off and flick them away. Don’t bother trying to crush them, they are practically uncrushable.”

Last summer, while walking the well-marked paths around the ponds, I at first was reassured by the fact that where the trails were grassy, a Nature Conservancy volunteer had run through them with a lawnmower. After walking a short distance, however, my feeling of reassurance evaporated as I watched several deer ticks marching from the tops of my sneakers onto my socks. I removed my sneakers and socks and sprayed them with insect repellent. While I was doing this, from the corner of my eye, I saw a large, dark-colored, blunt-winged bird swoop through the canopy of trees. I saw gossamer and gaudy winged damselflies and dragonflies, some parking on twigs only inches from my face. It’s a beautiful place, but be forewarned: right now there are a lot of ticks. If you decide to visit, take the necessary precautions for keeping ticks at bay.

The Calverton Preserve is cooperatively owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy and Suffolk County Parks. The Ponds and the surrounding area near the headwaters of the Peconic River contain many rare and endangered species. This area offers a unique and ecologically wondrous experience to the hiker, thus it is important to be careful to have as little impact on the trails and surrounding lands as possible. We are, after all, the stewards of our natural environment and we must preserve it for our grandchildren. Please only walk on the trails. No pets, horses or vehicles are allowed in the Preserve.

I suggest you visit the Ponds from the Old River Road entrance. Here you will find several informational kiosks and some excellent maps.

You can walk the trails through this 350-acre preserve in about two hours. A good route is to follow the white trail around the eastern side of Block Pond, then follow the yellow trail to Fox Pond. On your way back to the Old River Road entrance, take the yellow trail between Sandy and Block Ponds. Along the way there are several branching trails that enable you to visit the shorelines of the ponds.

Directions: From the Long Island Expressway, take Exit 70, heading north towards Manorville. At the end of the off-ramp, travel north for a short distance past the Trails Information Center on your right. Turn right onto Ryerson (Post Office on corner). Cross the railroad tracks, 0.2 miles. The road curves to the left, becoming Wading River Manor Road. Follow Wading River Manor Road north 0.8 miles to Old River Road (NOT River Road). Turn right onto Old River Road and travel 0.4 miles to a small parking area on the left. Please do not block the gate.

For more information, call The Nature Conservancy (631) 367-3225 or visit www.nature.org.

This 350-acre assemblage of Pine Barrens and Coastal Plain Ponds comprises one of the rarest and most fragile wetland ecosystems in North America.  The preserve is cooperatively owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy and Suffolk County Parks.

Calverton Ponds and the headwaters of the Peconic River contain one of the highest concentrations of rare and endangered species in New York State, with more than 30 rare plants, including three that are globally threatened.  The Ponds are home to several rare amphibians, fish, and insects, including the Tiger Salamander and Banded Sunfish.

The preserve is located within the Long Island Central Pine Barrens Region, which consists of a complex mosaic of Pitch Pine woodlands, pine-oak forests, Coastal Plain Ponds, swamps, marshes, bogs, and streams.  Pitch Pine and Oak trees, with a shrub layer of Scrub Oak, Huckleberry, and Blueberry dominate the woodlands.

Coastal Plain Ponds are characterized by nutrient poor, acidic water and a gently sloping shore.  Most Coastal Plain Ponds are not stream-fed, but are directly connected to groundwater.  Pond water levels rise and fall with the water table, reflecting seasonal and annual rainfall patterns.  Consequently, a unique community of plants grows along the pond shores.  Periods of both low and high water levels are essential for their survival.

****Pond shore plants are delicate and easily destroyed by trampling, pets, horses, or vehicles.  Please be careful not to disturb plants or wildlife.****

Well marked, easy to follow trails are open for hiking and observing nature daily from dawn to dusk. No other uses are permitted. Trails are maintained for foot travel only. PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB PLANTS OR WILDLIFE. No pets horses or vehicles are allowed. Groups are limited to 25 persons and should call for reservations. 

THE NATURE CONSERVANCY

An international, non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the plants, animals, and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive.  Since 1951, the Conservancy has protected more than 10,000,000,000 acres of ecologically-significant land in the U.S., Canada, Caribbean, Central and South Americas, and Pacific region.

The Nature Conservancy owns 63 nature preserves on Long Island.  In partnership with government and other organizations, the Conservancy named eastern Long Island one of the “Last Great Places” in the Western Hemisphere.  For information about membership and the Conservancy, please contact:

The Nature Conservancy
250 Lawrence Hill Road
Cold Spring Harbor, New York 11724
Telephone: (631) 367-3225

Visit The Nature Conservancy web site at www.tnc.org

 The preserve is close to an access point to the Paumanok Path.  This is another excellent reason to become familiar with this area.  There is Department of Environmental Conservation land nearby, so it is important that you become acquainted with the DEC permit conventions and rules.  You will find information about obtaining the free permit on the www.hike-li web site. 

DIRECTIONS

*From the Long Island Expressway:Take Exit 70, Manorville-Eastport (CR 111).  At the end of the off-ramp, go north.  (YOU WILL PASS THE MANORVILLE TRAIL INFORMATION CENTER ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE ROAD.  VISIT THIS PLACE; IT IS A GREAT RESOURCE FOR L.I. HIKING INFORMATION) Travel 0.25 miles to Ryerson Ave.  (The Manorville Post Office is on the corner.)  Go right on Ryerson, crossing railroad tracks, 0.2 miles to North St.  Go right on North St. for 0.2 miles.  Road curves to the left, becoming wading River Manor Rd.  Follow Wading River Manor Rd. north 0.8 miles to Old River Rd. (Not River Road).  Go right on Old River Rd. 0.4 miles to the small parking area on the left (with the wooden gate) 

*** please don’t block the gate ****

*From Middle Country Rd. (Rte. 25):Approximately 3 miles east of the William Floyd Parkway (Rte. 46), and a mile east of The Pine Trail Nature Preserve parking lot, at traffic light make a right turn onto Wading River Road.  Travel south for less than a mile then bear left onto Grumman Blvd.  Continue in an easterly direction for one mile, and then make a right turn onto Line Road.  After a little more than 1 mile you will find a chain strung across two posts on the left side of the road.  It is easy to miss this entrance, if you reach Wading River Road, you have passed it.  There is almost a quarter of a mile of level shoulder to park on opposite this entrance, therefore I suggest parking here.  Both the DOT & the local police departments have cautioned me that it is important, when parking in preparation for a hike, that you be certain that your car is not on private property and that all four tires are off the pavement.

Follow the trail markers and eventually you will reach the main entrance on the opposite side of the preserve by Old River Road.  There is a kiosk recessed a few hundred feet inside the preserve.  At the kiosk, you will usually find some interpretive brochures that include a trail map.

*If you wish to enter the preserve from the main entrance off Old River Road:A small stream that helps feed the headwaters of the Peconic River runs under Old River Road.  You will see a white wooden guardrail on either side of the road, where the stream flows underneath.  Just east of this stream, you will see two gates on the left side of the road.  The wooden gate is in front of the formal trail system. The parking on Old River Road is awkward.  If you wish to park on the preserve side of the road you can park at the entrance, but you should be careful not to block the access gates.  Opposite this entrance, the shoulder of the road is very steep and hard to park on.  Further down the road there are no trespassing signs.  I suggest parking by the Line Road entrance (see directions from Middle Country Road).

*If you wish to hike from the Nature Conservancy preserve to the Paumanok Path:From Line Road, head south to Wading River Manor Road where you will make a left (heading east).  Pass by River Road, which you will see on the left.  On the Right side of the road, not far from the Wading River Manor road sign you will find the entrance to the Paumanok Path heading west.  If you continue over the bridge, which runs across the Peconic River, you will find the entrance to The Path heading in the easterly direction.  It is best to cross over to the east side of the road (in this case the left) because it will be easier to see the white rectangular blazes that mark the route of the Paumanok Path as it continues eastward.
 

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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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