Caleb Smith State Park Preserve
Come to our hometown of Smithtown and enjoy the morning sunshine and fresh air with a hike at Caleb Smith State Park Preserve, with its many different habitats, including freshwater wetlands, ponds, streams, fields and upland woods.
Its diverse habitats support a variety of trees, shrubs, wildflowers and ferns that make the preserve a true refuge for wildlife.
Brandon, 10: I like it at Caleb Smith during the Winter because the Pond is prettiest that time of year. The museum is cool. There is a long hallway with a couple of different rooms and it looks like an old-fashioned house. You can sign your name in a book to get mail from the park. In one of the museum’s rooms you could see information and pictures of birds, fox, other animals you may see at the park and different kinds of plants and trees.
There are several trails for Cross Country Skiing (orange and green), yellow and blue for running/hiking, the red trail to the Boces Outdoor Learning Lab and 3.5 miles of the Long Island Greenbelt Trail for hiking and lots of unmarked trails as well; let someone know you are headed to the park if you are checking out unmarked trails; rent ‘127 Hours’ on BluRay if you need convincing!
There is a yellow, one-mile self-guided nature trail that is numbered. Don’t confuse this with the numbers provided along the short, bluestone graveled, All Access Trail for handicapped persons and others.
The Nissequogue River goes through part of the preserve on its way to the Long Island Sound. The rolling slopes and hillsides are part of the northern side of the Ronkonkoma Moraine.
The Nissequogue derives from springs in nearby Blydenburgh County Park and Weld Pond. It flows northward, cutting across both terminal moraines, and heads through Caleb Smith Park, turns brackish, and empties into Long Island Sound. In 1982 the state named the Nissequogue a Scenic and Recreational River.
The part of the preserve on the South side of route 25/Jericho Turnpike is only for fishing.
Caleb Smith is a major area for fall and spring migrations of songbirds including warblers, many of which nest in the preserve. Any walk around the ponds during the spring and summer will yield sightings of painted turtles and snapping turtles, green frogs and bull frogs. During the late spring, sunfish can be seen building nests on the bottom of the pond.
Something that’s really cool about this preserve; it truly is geared towards children. Willow Pond, on your left as you enter the park on the South side, has a designated area for junior angler’s; kids age 15 or younger only can fish from this section. The pond is also known for some great fly-fishing!
The preserve is great year-round!
Wildlife to Watch
- Painted turtles and snapping turtles
- Eastern chipmunks
- Bob-white quail
- Songbirds (including warblers)
- Common and Snowy Egrets
- Wood Frog, Green Frog and Bull Frog
- Red Fox
During the fall, the park ‘s trees show their vibrant red, orange and yellow leaves, and in the winter months, visitors can snowshoe or cross country ski on the trails.
Sofia, 7: So we went into a bird room with a bench. You could sit down and there is a picture showing all the kinds of birds you can see. Outside the hole in the room there was a whole bunch of bird feeders and I saw 1 bird. I guess I saw 2….or 5 🙂
On the day of this post, I hiked 3 miles; mostly on the red trail. I ran into only 3 people in the 90 minutes I was at the preserve. I found a lot of interesting vegetation and trees and look forward to taking 1 or all 4 of my kids there sometime soon!
Along the red trail you will find various types of trees and vegetation clearly marked; including, Tupelo, Red Cedar, Flowering Dogwood, Pitch Pine, Red Oak, Arrowwood as well as Sassafras and Spicebush.
Towards the end of the red trail I reached the BOCES Outdoor Learning Lab.
The laboratory contains numerous displays and animals and serves as a stepping-off point for exploring the deciduous woodlands and ponds. There are a number of distinct habitats along the 1.2 mile Red Trail, including pond, stream, field and deciduous forest.
This is a great location for the study of birds, small mammals, insects, trees, ecology, the water cycle, and weather.
I wish the preserve was open later than 4pm. I enjoy Sunken Meadow State Park because I don’t have to keep looking at my watch.
There is a water fountain and rest rooms in the museum. Take waters or a Camelbak. Try to park your car in the shade if you can. No bicycles allowed. No pets. I suggest wearing a hat due to ticks and Lyme Disease. Suntan Lotion in the summer. Oh, and don’t forget to have fun 🙂
Includes 543 acres; 1/2-mile trail accommodates wheelchairs, plus 1-mile and 2 1/4-mile self-guided trails (tree guide at office), 3 1/2 miles of Greenbelt Trail, nature museum, fly-fishing April 1-Oct. 3 ($20 permit, reservation required), junior angler’s fishing area (15 and younger, April 1-Oct. 31), bird walks, geology workshops, clinics, family programs ($3 children and adults); quarterly program mailing list.
Hours: The booth is operated from 8:00am-4:00pm. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. I once entered the exit and went jogging on the trails at 6am and the park employee wasn’t happy at 7:15am when he told me to leave, so don’t chance it. Empire State Pass is accepted or $8 per car. You can purchase the pass at the booth and they accept credit cards. You will also receive literature at the booth if you ask.
From Sunken Meadow Pky. Exit SM3; go east on Jericho Turnpike (NY25) three miles to park, entrance is on the left; From the east follow NY25 through Smithtown, past the “ Bull” ¼ mile on the right.
581 W Jericho Turnpike, Smithtown, NY 11787
For high resolution versions of these photos and additional pics of Caleb Smith State Park Preserve, please follow this link to the associated photo set on Flickr:
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