Hunts Pond Preserve

Location: Smithtown, NY

Size: 25 acres

Date of hike: March 25, 2017

This was not the first time I'd hiked Hunts Pond Preserve, but it was the first time I really immersed myself in the preserve.  I first experienced it three years ago when I hiked the Long Island Greenbelt Trail, a 34-mile long trail that runs north to south across Long Island.  The Greenbelt goes through Hunts Pond, but since I was trying to complete the lengthy trail before sunset I had pushed through the preserve without taking my time.  This visit was an opportunity to take my time.

For starters, I must admit that I didn't even know the preserve's name until a few weeks ago.  I was poking around a map of my neighborhood on Facebook when I observed the preserve.  Needless to say, it's very close to my home.  Anyway, I was surprised to see the preserve had an official name on the map, because there are no signs anywhere along its outskirts identifying it as Hunts Pond Preserve.  It's just kinda there.  While hiking the Greenbelt in 2014, I actually thought that the preserve was just a pretty sliver of woodland sandwiched between strips of neighboring homes.  But I was wrong.  Turns out, it's an actual preserve with a name and everything.  Those who are frequent readers of this blog know that parks and preserves like this one (another being Fuchs Pond Preserve in Northport) perplex mePreserves should be properly identified with signs and also have a proper online presenceThat way, hikers like myself will know it exists and be able to visit it.  Easy enough, right?

The preserve has two entrances: one along the north side of Townline Road between Mount Pleasant and Dorchester roads and one accessed through the dead end of Bow Drive East.  The Townline entrance, which is the one I used, follows the white markers of the Greenbelt.  Unfortunately, Townline is a very busy road and there's not really anywhere to park around that entrance.  As a result, I parked on Dorchester Road and walked about a quarter-mile along Townline Road's shoulder until I reached the trail.  The entrance on Bow Drive East, however, is much easierHikers using that entrance could park on the side of the road in front of someone's house, then enter a large grassy area and turn left, where a wood post fence marks the entryway.  Then, you just follow the white markers for the Greenbelt Trail.  The trail also continues north to NY Route 347 (and, of course, all the way to Kings Park).

Before hiking, I searched online for some information about Hunts Pond Preserve's history, but I found nothing of substance.  The only results I had where old real estate listings that mentioned a particular property bordering the preserve.  I'm not even sure of the preserve's exact acreage.  The figure I posted above is merely an estimate, as the preserve seems to be a similar size to nearby Millers Pond County Park in Smithtown, which I hiked last year.  Incidentally, maps show that Hunts Pond is actually linked to Millers Pond through a creek named Northeast Branch.  From there, the creek continues to Stump Pond in Blydenburgh County Park.  I call it a creek since it's not very wide.  I could likely jump across it if I tried.   

Upon entering the preserve from Townline Road, the trail cuts through a narrow tract of land with the backyards of adjacent homes visible on both sidesThe preserve is also peppered with boardwalks and planks to help hikers across the marshy partsThe highlight though is certainly Hunts Pond.  When I passed the pond three years ago, there was a small dock on which someone scrawled "The Lake of Dreams" and encouraged visitors to jot their dreams.  But that dock is gone.  It broke my heart, as there was a whimsical quality about the pond and dock during my last visit.  It was one of my favorite moments along the Greenbelt Trail.

For music, I put my iPod on shuffle.  But to be honest, I couldn't really focus on the tunes.  My mind kept returning to "the lake."  In the spirit of full disclosure, I should note I emailed the Long Island Greenbelt Trail Conference to find out who maintains Hunts Pond Preserve.  Sure, it seems like a odd project, but I'd like to see the dock restored.  It's a trail attraction that deserves to live on.  Hopefully, by the time some of you read this entry down the road, the dock will be back, as will "The Lake of Dreams."  Even though its technically a pond!

All in all, Hunts Pond Preserve is a tiny spot that I wouldn't recommend traveling far to visit.  It's best served catering to area residents seeking an outdoor stroll or a jog.  Or thru-hikers on the Greenbelt Trail.  But if you do find yourself out there, stop by "The Lake of Dreams."  And if there's still no dock installed, just whisper your thoughts to the water.  It will listen. 

Video: Hunts Pond Preserve (360-degree view)


3 comments:

  1. Love this place, I grew up not far from it. Spent many middle and high school days and weekends here with friends walking and hanging out enjoying the illusion of being 'far in the woods.' Did anyone ever get back to you about who maintains it? Last time I went the pond part had dried up, an old friend of mine said it had to do with the town digging trenches to stop people's basements from being flooded, not sure if it's since been fixed and back to normal.

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  2. It's county parkland, technically. the golf course across townline has disrupted the water table, so hunt's is progressing smoothly into a grassland...

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  3. Wow. Talk about memory lane. I lived on the street adjacent to this area back in the 1970s when I was very young. The housing development was built in the early 1970s and a ton of young families moved into the new houses. All the neighborhood kids would play in the woods. And that is all we called it, "The Woods." It had no name. It was just the woods beyond the fence. There were no signs. No trails. No wooden walkways. We would run around in there all day. I have a vague recollection that if you walked to the other side there was a farm that bordered the main roadway, but I may be wrong. I recall that it was a lot of water back there, but more like a swamp than a pond, completely overgrown. Cannot recall if Hunts pond (it had no name back then) was separate from the rest of the water there. Came home covered in mud more than once. Moved away around 1980 and that was the last I ever thought about it. Until I got nostalgic for the old neighborhood. I imagine the developers left the area undeveloped because of all the water, which connects to the northeast branch of the Nissequogue river. It certainly played havoc with the basements in the area.

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