Hunts Pond Preserve

Location: Smithtown, NY

Size: 25 acres

Date of hike: March 25, 2017

Hunts Pond Preserve is a small parcel surrounded by residential homes between Townline Road and NY Route 347.  I first experienced the preserve three years ago when I hiked the Long Island Greenbelt Trail, a 32-mile long trail that runs north to south (or south to north) across Long Island.  The Greenbelt goes right through the tiny tract, which I had thought was just a pretty sliver of land sandwiched between backyards.  But I recently learned it's an actual preserve while poking around a map online.  Well, armed with that knowledge, I decided it was time to revisit and explore the tiny spot in its entirety.

Prior to hiking, I tried to find information on the history and habitats of Hunts Pond Preserve, but there was nothing of substance.  The only online results were some previous real estate listings that mentioned properties bordering the preserve.  To be honest, I'm not even sure of its exact acreage.  The figure I posted above is merely an estimate, as the preserve seems to be similar in size to Millers Pond County Park in Smithtown, which I had hiked last year.  Anyway, the preserve has two entrances: one on the north side of Townline Road between Mount Pleasant and Dorchester roads, which is where the preserve's sign is, and another accessed through the dead end on Bow Drive East.  Unfortunately, Townline's a very busy road and there's nowhere to park by that entrance.  As a result, I parked around the corner on Dorchester Road and walked about a quarter-mile until I reached the trail along Townline.  

The trail follows the white blazes of the Long Island Greenbelt Trail and passes through part of the Nissequogue River Watershed, according to signsIt begins with a narrow woodland that is bordered by the backyards of neighboring homes and leads to a marshy area that is peppered with boardwalks and planks to help hikers across itThe highlight, in my opinion, 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 invited visitors to jot their hopes and dreams right on the wood.  But the dock is gone.  It saddened me as there was a whimsical quality about it during my last visit.  It was one of my favorite spots along the Greenbelt Trail.

I expanded my hike by crossing over Townline Road and continuing along the Greenbelt Trail for a mile or so until it reached Motor Parkway.  It's a hilly area tucked between Hidden Pond Park and the Wind Watch Golf & Country Club.  If you're hiking at the right time, you'll come within a stone's throw of golfers or swimmers.  This section also has other intersecting trails, which are marked with yellow blazes and blue and red dots.  I assume those are associated with Hidden Pond Park.  There are also blue-blazed trails for bikers close to Motor Parkway.

For music, I put my iPod on shuffle.  But to be honest, I couldn't really focus on the songs.  My mind kept returning to the lake.  It's one of those trail attractions that deserve to live on, and I emailed the Long Island Greenbelt Trail Conference to tell them of the dock's demise.  Hopefully, we'll once again have "The Lake of Dreams," even though its technically a pond!

All in all, Hunts Pond Preserve is so small that I wouldn't recommend traveling far to visit it.  It's best served catering to area residents seeking an outdoor stroll or a jog.  Or thru-hikers on the Greenbelt Trail.  But, as evidenced here, even small spots can have big-time beauty.

(Updated: May 5, 2019)

Video: Hunts Pond Preserve (360-degree view)


4 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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    1. The farm you are recalling was a horse farm off of Townline Road where the trail let’s out. It closed down many years ago (early 90’s maybe?) and was abandoned space for years until they sold the land and built a court of Houses there.

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