Ok, so sometimes all you want out of a Sunday is to wake up late, eat some homemade pancakes, and veg around watching cartoons or Goonies on FX. This sounds great to my kids. Me too. Sometimes… Other times we just want to get out of the house, breathe the fresh air, explore something new about nature and then wait almost a year and blog about it. Well, that describes us tonight!
Last September was our first time as a family visiting Shelter Island. We booted up the Mac that morning and hit google to find something unique to do for the day. The fun really began for the kids when we took the ferry from Greenport over. The kids had been on bigger ferries like out in Port Jeff, so this was a different experience on a smaller boat. Once we reached Mashomack, this nice woman who volunteers there showed us maps of the trails and gave us some advice on where to head out to. We made the mistake of taking a jogging stroller as Mia, who was 20 months at the time, wanted to run around (typical). We ended up hiking about 6 miles and Mia walked and ran most of the way!
Mashomack Preserve is a natural area of nearly 2,100 acres which includes various habitats necessary for the survival of many species of plants and animals. 1/3rd of Shelter Island is covered by the preserve.
Mashomack was purchased over 30 years ago with the mission to stop development of this nearly untouched peninsula and to protect one of the larges populations of breeding ospreys on the East coast. The preserve sometimes harbors nesting populations of the endangered piping plover, as well as a number of rare plants. Mashomack is surrounded by 12 miles of coastline and includes open fields, creeks, freshwater marshes, grassy meadows and approximately 1400 acres of oak and beach tree-filled forest. You can walk to the historic Nicoll family graveyard or the 1890s manor house. This is really a special visit, as it is one of the largest undeveloped properties remaining on Long Island.
Several hundred bird species have been viewed at Mashomack Preserve. Other wildlife you may encounter include White-tailed deer, gray and red fox, bats, turtles, herons, ducks, egrets and many other birds. We took the green trail which was to be about 6 miles roundtrip. There were 5 trails totalling about 22 miles to choose from; 1.5, 3, 6, 12 mile loops and a 1 mile wheelchair-accessible trail close to the main visitor center.
Brandon, 10: “On a break when we were taking a picture on a cool stone bench I looked under it and I saw a huge spider web with a lot of spiders on it.”
We stopped under a small covered bench on a bridge and watched people fishing for
Sofia, 7: “So I had to go to the bathroom really bad because we were hiking and I didn’t want to go in the bushes so I had to wait the whole time. So I’m telling all of you that you really really have to go to the bathroom when you first get out of the car at the front of the trail. There was a building with bathrooms and a place inside with books about the preserve and the different birds and other animals that people see there.”
It was a good thing we each took a water bottle as we were out for a long time. There are lots of benches to take breaks, and at this part of the trail below there were many amazing views overlooking the water.
Brandon, 10: “Mommy told Daddy that he wouldn’t be able to get down this really steep hill down to the beach. It was marked off with a sign saying that no one was allowed to go over the fence. Daddy jumped over the fence and slid down this hill filled with sand, rocks, boulders and lots of branches and weeds until he reached the beach. Daddy won the dare!”
The area of Greenport by the Ferry is really pretty and peaceful. I really want a boat!!!! We had an incredible time discovering all that Mashomack Preserve has to offer. Hopefully this pristine place can stay close to what it is today for a long time…
Only hiking allowed. Jogging, bicycling, and horseback riding may disturb flora or fauna and can cause excessive wear on the trails.
Remain on marked trails so the..umm…preserve is preserved.
Please do not take anything you find from the preserve – vegetation, plants, shells – anything. It’s called a preserve for a reason 🙂
No pets allowed. Please take all wrappers, bottles, any waste with you back to the car and leave Mashomack in the condition you found it in.
Think about wearing a hat; at the very least check your head and body for ticks before you get in your car
Admission and Hours: No entrance Fee, but requested donation is $2 for adults, $1 per child over 2 years of age. (a small price to pay for a fun visit!)
July-August: Open daily
September-June: Closed Tuesday, Open Wednesday-Monday
- Take your best route to Shelter Island.
- When disembarking from the Greenport/North Ferry, follow Route 114 south for three miles to the preserve.
- If you come by way of the North Haven/South Ferry, follow Route 114 one mile north to the preserve.
- A large wooden sign on the east side of Route 114 marks the entrance.
- Park just inside the preserve entrance on Route 114 (less than a mile from the South Ferry) and walk in to the visitor center to sign the guest book and pick up trail maps.
For high resolution versions of these photos and additional pics of Mashomack Preserve, please follow this link to the associated photo set on Flickr:
And don’t forget to add comments about what you like at Mashomack Preserve; my kids are excited to see if you like this quest!
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