Fuchs Pond Preserve

Location: Northport, NY

Size: 21 acres

Date of hike: Sept. 4, 2016

I've seen Fuchs Pond Preserve described elsewhere as a "hidden oasis," and I couldn't agree more.  Unless you're familiar with the area, you wouldn't even know it exists.  There's no sign identifying it.  No fancy entrance.  It's just there.  I noticed it last summer on Google Maps when I went to nearby Makamah Nature Preserve, and I've had it on my to-hike list since then.  Well, with blue skies out despite the approach of Hurricane Hermine, I finally decided to visit Fuchs.   

The small preserve is nestled between Makamah Nature Preserve, Henry Ingraham Nature Preserve and Jerome Ambro Memorial Wetlands Preserve, and bordered by Seaside Court and Waterside Avenue in Northport.  If you've seen my entry for Henry Ingraham, you know that I tried to visit Fuchs two months earlier but was unable to find a sign for it.  Apparently, that's because there is no marked entrance for Fuchs
just a few roadside openings along the aforementioned streets.  The best entrance to use is on the east side of Seaside Court, just north of its intersection with Waterside Avenue.  It's a dirt patch big enough for three or four cars with a second dirt patch on the opposite side of of the road.  But, as I said before, there's no sign whatsoever.  I've encountered such a signless situation before at Pipe Stave Hollow in Mount Sinai, and it's a bit of a head scratcher.  Both locations are simply superb and warrant proper signage, but on the other hand it's cool to have some secret gems that fall under the radar.  So maybe an instance of signlessness isn't such a bad thing after all.

Before exploring, I grabbed my phone for some pre-hike research on Fuchs.  The top result was a trail guide on the Town of Huntington's website that said the preserve, once known as "Cranberry Hill," consists of a five-acre spring-fed freshwater pond, freshwater marsh, upland slope forest, and a high plateau area.  The town and Suffolk County bought the land in 2003, using funding from the Huntington Environmental Open Space and Park Fund as well as the County Greenways-Open Space programs.  A blog titled Crab Meadow News said recorded activity around the pond goes back to the 1650s.  Post-revolutionary settlements of farmers occupied most of the Waterside Avenue area, with additional housing coming in the 1800s and cranberry bogs operating through the 1930s.  In 1920, a man named Rudolph Reimer tried to create a freshwater lake as a trout pond, which is the current site of Fuchs Pond, according to the blog.  The property was later purchased by Sophie and Betram Fuchs.

I began my hike from the Makamah parking lot and followed a straight trail just south of the Crab Meadow Golf Course that linked Makamah and Fuchs.  This seemed like the best bet since I previously had difficulty finding the entrance for Fuchs.  To my right, golfers could be clearly seen through trees with the occasional shout of "fore" causing me to duck for cover.  It took about 15-20 minutes to reach a fork in the trail, which told me I was close to Fuchs, and I used a geocaching app to verify my proximity.  The fork's right trail led to that parking area on Seaside Court.  Then I backtracked for the left fork.  That led to the heart of Fuchs.  The trails were all unmarked, so I wandered around and took whatever path caught my eye.  After all, the preserve is pretty darn small and surrounded by a series of homes and roads, so there's no fear of getting lost.  I explored almost every trail over the course of two hours.

The preserve's highlight was surely the pond itself, which on this day attracted a few teens on bikes who were fishing along its outskirts.  A trail took me around the edge of the pond, with numerous openings in the brush allowing me to get right up to the water.  I didn't spot any turtles, but I'd read online the preserve has eastern box, painted and snapping turtles.  Other wildlife ranges from red-tailed hawks to chipping sparrows to eastern screech owls, according to the town's trail guide.  I also spotted a deer right along the trail at one point.  Another neat sight was a handful of colorful eyes painted on some trees and rocks in the preserve's southwestern section.  I couldn't help but initiate a staring contest, which I lost.    

My music of choice was a mixture of progressive metal including songs from Transatlantic's 2009 album, The Whirlwind.  It's a concept album based upon a storm of some sortTo me, it's metaphorical and I find parallels between the lyrics and storms I've weathered in my life.  "We got caught in the whirlwind, torn by the storms of our lives; And just when we thought we had something, it turned to dust in our eyes," sang vocalist Neal Morse on the album's opening track.  You can't help but respect and appreciate such inspirational songwriting.

All in all, Fuchs is so tiny that I can't recommend traveling long distances to experience it.  But if you reside in or near the Town of Huntington and are craving a quick trip into nature, this will fit the bill.  Sign or no sign, this preserve is just sublime.  A hidden gem, indeed.

Video: Fuchs Pond Preserve (360-degree view) 

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