Caleb Smith State Park Preserve
If you are searching for a place to enjoy nature, history, and culture in Smithtown, NY, look no further than Caleb Smith State Park Preserve. This park is a hidden gem that offers various activities and attractions for visitors of all ages and interests. In this blog post, I will share with you some highlights of this park and why you should visit it soon.
Caleb Smith State Park Preserve was once part of the estate of Caleb Smith (1724-1800), a descendant of Richard “Bull” Smith, the founder of Smithtown. The park’s main building, the Caleb Smith House, was built in 1753 by Caleb and his father Daniel. The house has undergone many renovations over the years, but it still retains much of its original charm and character. The house was moved to its current location behind the Smithtown Main Public Library in 1958.
In the 19th century, the estate was expanded and became a sportsman’s hunting and fishing preserve. It was named the Wyandanch Club in 1893, after a local Native American chief. The club hosted many prominent guests, such as Theodore Roosevelt and William K. Vanderbilt. The club also preserved the natural beauty and diversity of the land, which is now home to many rare plants and animals.
In 1963, the state acquired the property and turned it into a nature preserve. The park was originally called Nissequogue River State Park, but it was renamed in 1998 to honor Caleb Smith and his family. The park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Wyandanch Club Historic District.
Nature and Ecology
Caleb Smith State Park Preserve covers 548 acres of land along the Nissequogue River, which flows into the Long Island Sound. The park has various habitats, such as freshwater wetlands, ponds, streams, fields, and upland woods. These habitats support a rich diversity of life, from plants and fungi to birds and mammals.
Some of the rare plants that you can find in the park include pink lady slipper, trailing arbutus, and Indian pipe. These plants are adapted to low-light and acidic conditions in the forest floor. You can also see colorful wildflowers, such as goldenrod, aster, and milkweed, that attract butterflies and bees.
The park is also a haven for birdwatchers, who can spot over 200 species of birds throughout the year. Some of the birds that nest in the park include prothonotary warbler, Virginia rail, osprey, great blue heron, red-tailed hawk, wood duck, and eastern bluebird. You can also see migratory birds, such as warblers, vireos, thrushes, and sparrows, that stop by the park during spring and fall.
The park is also home to many mammals, such as white-tailed deer, red fox, flying squirrel, river otter, beaver, muskrat, raccoon, skunk, opossum, chipmunk, and mouse. These animals are active at different times of the day and night, so you might catch a glimpse of them if you are lucky.
Points of Interest
Caleb Smith State Park Preserve has many points of interest that will make your visit memorable and enjoyable. Here are some of them:
The Caleb Smith House
This is the centerpiece of the park and the former residence of Caleb Smith. It is a two-story brick building that features Georgian architecture and Federal-style furnishings. It is open to the public for tours on Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Nature Museum
This is located inside the Caleb Smith House and showcases exhibits on the natural history of the park and Long Island. It also has live animals that you can see up close and learn about their behaviors and habitats.
The Nature Trail
This is a 1.5-mile loop trail that circles Willow Pond. It is an easy walk that takes you through different ecosystems, such as woodlands, wetlands, fields, and marshes. You can see various plants and animals along the way, such as deer, foxes, rabbits, squirrels, birds, butterflies, flowers, trees, and shrubs.
The Fishing Pond
This is a small pond near the entrance of the park that is stocked with trout in the spring and fall. You can fish here with a valid fishing license and a park permit. You can also rent fishing rods from the park office for a small fee.
The Picnic Area
This is a large grassy area near the parking lot that has picnic tables, benches, grills, and restrooms. You can bring your food and drinks, or buy snacks from the vending machines. You can also enjoy games and activities on the lawn or relax under the shade of the trees.
Here are some interesting facts about Caleb Smith State Park Preserve that you may not know:
Advice for Visitors
If you are planning to visit Caleb Smith State Park Preserve, here are some tips and advice to make your trip more enjoyable:
When is it open?
The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset throughout the year. The park office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays.
What to wear?
The park has various terrain and weather conditions, so you should dress accordingly. You should wear comfortable shoes, layers of clothing, a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. You should also bring insect repellent, water, and snacks.
Is it family-friendly?
The park is a great place for families to have fun and learn together. The park has many facilities and amenities that are suitable for children, such as playgrounds, restrooms, water fountains, and vending machines. The park also has many programs and events that are designed for children, such as storytime, crafts, games, and scavenger hunts.
When is it best to visit?
The park is beautiful and enjoyable in every season, but some seasons may have more advantages than others. For example, spring is the best time to see the wildflowers and birds, summer is the best time to enjoy the fishing and picnicking, fall is the best time to admire the foliage and wildlife, and winter is the best time to experience the snow and ice.
Driving travel through Smithtown, NY-Meeting the town from Blydenburgh County Park to Coco Bistro
Blydenburgh County Park
Veteran’s Memorial Highway, Smithtown, NY 11788
- Head southwest toward H. Lee Dennison Bldg Dr (Restricted usage road) for 1 sec (30 ft)
- Follow NY-347 E, Hauppauge Rd and NY-25A E/N Country Rd to Gate Rd in Head of the Harbor for 15 min (6.9 mi)
a. Turn left onto NY-347/NY-454 E and continue for 0.6 mi
b. Keep left to continue on NY-347 E, follow signs for Port Jefferson (Pass by Carvel on the right) for 0.8 mi
c. Slight right toward Hauppauge Rd for 115 ft
d. Continue straight for 210 ft
e. Turn left onto Hauppauge Rd and continue for 2.0 mi
f. Continue onto NY-25A E/N Country Rd for 3.4 mi
- Take Bacon Rd to Harbor Rd for 3 min (1.3 mi)
- Turn left onto Gate Rd and continue for 125 ft
a. Continue straight onto Hitherbrook Rd for 0.3 mi
b. Slight right onto Bacon Rd and continue for 0.6 mi
c. Turn right onto Harbor Rd (Destination will be on the left) for 0.3 mi
169 Harbor Rd, St James, NY 11780
- Head south on Harbor Rd toward Brackenwoods Path for 57 sec (0.3 mi)
- Turn left onto Bacon Rd and continue for 2 min (0.6 mi)
- Follow NY-25A W/N Country Rd and Edgewood Ave to NY-25 W in Smithtown for 12 min (5.5 mi)
a. Slight left onto Hitherbrook Rd and continue for 0.3 mi
b. Merge onto Gate Rd and continue for 125 ft
c. Turn right onto NY-25A W/N Country Rd and continue for 1.8 mi
d. Turn right onto Edgewood Ave and continue for 2.2 mi
e. Turn right onto NY-25 W/NY-25A W/W Main St and continue for 0.4 mi
f. Keep left to continue on NY-25 W (Destination will be on the right) for 0.9 mi
Caleb Smith State Park
581 W Jericho Turnpike, Smithtown, NY 11787
- Head southwest on NY-25 W/W Jericho Turnpike (Pass by Jiffy Lube on the left in 2.8 mi) for 3.0 mi
- Turn right onto Indian Head Rd (Destination will be on the right) for 0.2 mi
The Smithtown Library - Commack Building
3 Indian Head Rd, Commack, NY 11725
- Head north on Indian Head Rd toward Cowie Rd for 0.5 mi
- Turn right onto Somerset Dr and continue for 0.5 mi
- Turn right onto Wenmore Rd and continue for 361 ft
- Turn right onto Kings Park Rd and continue for 0.6 mi
- Turn left onto Jericho Turnpike and continue for 1.1 mi
- Turn right (Destination will be on the right) for 161 ft
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