Location: Nissequogue, NY
Size: 160 acres
Date of hike: Feb. 9, 2019
Rassapeague County Park is a narrow tract of land bordered by residential homes with a trail to Stony Brook Harbor. I came across the park while driving around after a visit to nearby David Weld Sanctuary, and I instantly added it to my list of places to hike. I've grown fond of the parks throughout Nissequogue and I was sure I'd enjoy Rassapeague. Well, I was right.
Prior to hiking, I did some research to familiarize myself with the park's history and habitats. To my surprise, it's not mentioned on the Suffolk County Parks Department's website and I only got a few results when I searched for information online. One was a 2018 article on LongIsland.com that said the park was recently created by a local Boy Scout. "Chris Golden worked with the Suffolk County Parks Department to create the Rassapeague County Park on county-owned property in Nissequogue," said the story, noting he's a member of Boy Scout Troop 888 of Smithtown. "He built a parking lot there, created a marked trail and cleaned up more than 1,000 pounds of debris from the site." As for the name "Rassapeague," it was apparently the name of a historic home known to make wine that suffered a fire in 2011, according to Patch. The two-story home, which was later razed, was constructed in the 1860s and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.
The park's entrance is on the east side of Long Beach Road just south of The Knox School, which is a day and boarding college preparatory school. The parking lot is big enough to fit about three cars and there's a very helpful map at the trailhead. In fact, it was probably one of the most thorough trail maps I'd come across on Long Island, which is ironic considering the park is one of the smallest I'd come across on Long Island. I should also note that the park's size, which I listed above as 160 acres, is entirely an estimate. I wasn't able to find the park's size mentioned in acres anywhere online – likely because it's new and its online presence is lacking – so I used the facts and figures on the trail map to try to calculate its approximate size myself. If anyone has a more precise size, please pass it along to me.
The trail, which is an out-and-back trail, is a half-mile long and ends at Stony Brook Harbor. It's also very well-marked with cute orange markers that feature a hiker with a walking stick. So, not only did this park have the best trail map, it had the best trail markers. Way to go, Chris Golden! Anyway, the land was hilly at times and the trail had a ton of chirping birds. To my delight, I even glimpsed a red bird and a blue bird at one point, but they flew by too quickly to snap a picture. The trail's highlight though was the beach area, despite having some trash including a broken dock and an old rowboat. The view was simply exquisite.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything online that mentioned the types of wildlife in the park, nor the species of trees. But there was one cool spot featuring a series of downed trees – including one very large tree. It almost looked like a tornado touched down in that location. Regardless of the cause, I took the opportunity to walk atop the horizontal tree trunks like they were wilderness balance beams. It was a gold-medal performance, if you ask me.
All in all, I'd say that Rassapeague County Park is worthy of a stop if you're in Nissequogue. The park is probably too small to travel far to visit it, but I'd definitely recommend it if you're planning to hike nearby David Weld Sanctuary. Treat yourself to a double dose of nature!
Video: Rassapeague County Park (360-degree view)