Old Estates being Put to Good Public Use

There are many old estates on Long Island that were given or bought by the state of New York Parks Department. They are beautiful reminders of the bygone age of decadence and extreme wealth by a handful of tycoons in turn of the century. As the country grew and the Internal Revenue Service was formed to pay for services, the enormous tax bills forced many of these properties to be sold off or given away.

Luckily some forward thinking individual in private and government employment thought to preserve our history and land for the future, The history of such places such as the Vanderbilt Museum on one of the old Vanderbilt properties on the north shore of Nassau County, New York, the Southside Hunting Lodge, now the Connetquot River State Park on the south shore of Suffolk County and  Belmont Lake State Park, established in 1926;formally known as "Nursery Stud Farm", a thoroughbred horse farm owned by August Belmont, according to Wikipedia.

The Belmont Lake State Park sits on the Southern State Parkway in Babylon, New York. It is very well used ,with a large main lake, and a walking trail that heads south to two more lake that are not officially park of the park. I have been to this park many times and it never disappoints.

Belmont Lake Dam

 The Belmont lake dam is
small but useful as it created
a large lake enjoyed by fishermen and small paddle boats alike.

The weekends are popular for large hiking groups to visit.

Belmont Lake Trail

a captured cannon sits on the estates lawn

The  walkers enter a tunnel under the parkway and further south , there is another tunnel that runs under a highway.
The trails run along the Carlls River
It was becoming cloudy so the last 2 images aren't very clear, but this is another large body of water called Southards Pond that is connected to the trails that runs from Belmont Lake State park.
Southards Pond is a favorite of fishermen.

Hidden Histories of a Nature Walk

One wouldn't think of a  suburb of New York City, as having an country look or feel to it. The parks and preserves of Long Island are a treasure for all to enjoy. A few wise groups have fought the developers and government to preserve vestiges of the past for the future generations to learn from.

The old Long Island was once home to many estates of millionaires, especially on the coastal shores.
As time went, the masses from the cities moved out to the rural countryside of the island and may have worked for one of these estates.  This was once the Southside Sportsmen Club
Here is a video to explain.


Westlbrook lake looking north to the highway.

I have hiked and photographed Connetquot State Park in the autumn  but this time the park was more colorful before summer.

I grew up in this area and knew this to be a dairy farm. I'm glad it wasn't developed.

The group I traveled with started out in the Westbrook lake south of sunrise highway.

We came upon high grasses, large growth trees and wonderful lake views.This tree was so wide I couldn't capture all of it.

We walked along a dirt path that brought us to a catwalk under the highway and into the park on the north side.

A stop along the lake once inside the park. This was a great fishing location.

A nice, shady spot to rest along the way. Someone made some benches for the weary.

An old  lodge building overlooking one part of the lake inside the park.

And horse riders are welcome here. there is no stable so you must trailer your horse or ride them in from one of the side entrances if you live around the park.
No bikes are allowed so far.
horses are welcome

The fish hatchery is a vital part of this park and welcomes many anglers.

 I took a last shot of the lodge and mill house across the lake with the swans diving for food before leaving. I think this is a great oasis in a crowded suburbia  that we live in today. 
If you would like to help preserve this beautiful park, then join the Friends of Connetquot soon. www.friendsofconnetquot.org/

A Warm Winters Afternoon Photo shoot on Fire Island

the new boardwalk to the lighthouse
I was going cabin crazy in the middle of February and was waiting for a good snow-free day to walk.
The temperatures were predicted to rise into the low 50's and so I planned my location and took my Nikon along. The newest wide lens addition makes such an interesting look that I use it more than any other now.
Driving to the beach in the middle of a New York winter may sound crazy but I wasn't the only crazy person there.

The Robert Moses causeway leads south over shimmering the Great South Bay, two iron bridges, and onto the beaches.
Its not very far from my home and I didn't realize how much I missed this gem until I moved back to Long Island last year.

new grass on the front of lighthouse

My sights were set on an old standby-the Fire Island lighthouse.
Many photographers, amateur and professional alike, have shot her in every possible angle,weather,and season.

I have photographed her at least three time in the past few years. Once before Hurricane Sandy, a year after the hurricane and now more recently.

many visitors on this warm winter day
The difference in the beach was startling after the big storm washed all the dunes away.
I glad to say that the old girl is unharmed and looking better than ever.

There were many others wandering on the beach, on the newly restored boardwalks and around the lighthouse.
a visitor enjoying the warmth of the winter sun
It's good to see that it is appreciated and well cared for.
To see more images of this day please go to my photography website.

Snowmaggeden 2016

Ok, by now everyone has heard of the big blizzard that hit the Northeast in January of 2016. This was first predicted to be a round 8 inches with a little wind. Well that didn't happen and of course, so we all have something to talk about. I snapped some photos around the neighborhood since the snow had caused cancellations of any hikes I planned.
I always try to see the positive side of any event that is overwhelmingly seem as negative.
There is so much beauty and tranquility in the huge blanket of white that covers the landscape.
We get a chance to see common objects in a different light. They become more noticeable with 6 inches of snow on top. The poor birds couldn't clean themselves in the birdbath and I could get to it .
The snow was too high for the snow blower and my shovels buckled under the weight.
Yep, this was one for the record books and I don' want to have another one this year.

 I watch several squirrels digging frantically under the snow, trying to locate their acorns. The day before they were frolicking around,chasing each other up and down the trees.
 The path out the back door was cut through the snow that I shoveled three times and couldn't keep up with.
It is melting very fast every day and soon will be a distant memory--until the next one.

An Autumn Trip to Koger Arch

Yamacraw Bridge in summer.
I recently went on a trip to the southern region of Kentucky, close to the Tennessee border. I  have made trips to the area in the past but had a new mission in mind.
McCreary county, off of hwy 27 has very remote, isolated areas that are part of the Daniel Boone National Park. There are very curvy roads, cliffs, overhangs with rock slides and steep drops into valleys.

Koger Arch Sign
My friend and I decided to check out an arch that we visited a few years ago. This time the weather is more conducive for hiking. The last time it was in the middle of the summer when we made the trek and the bugs and heat were too much.

Leaf covered trail

The Koger Arch area is  dotted with many lesser known arches and not as accessible. The best know one is Natural Arch just north  off  hwy  700. This is also in the Stearns  District of   the Forest.

stone steps

Koger Arch now has a new sign on the side of the road so it was a little easier to find. I applaud the volunteers who clear these trails and made steps and directions to these locations. The Sheltowee Trace Hiking group, along with the forest service, maintain the trails and nail in markers on the trees to help hikers find their way. Their symbol is a turtle.

We drove south of Somerset, on hwy 27, past the Natural Arch, until we reached 92 on the right and followed that until Yamacraw bridge. Make a left onto hwy 1363;drive until you see Rock Creek Rd that becomes Wilson Ridge Rd. You should see the new sign on the left side of the road.

Beneath Koger Arch

The arch is larger than I remember, certainly an impressive sight. The leaf covered trail is a little slippery in the fall, so use the walking stick for balance. I couldn't see the steps until we got closer to the arch itself.

All in all I was not disappointed and love to walk in the wilderness. Be careful traveling in these isolated areas. There is no one around if you fall and be hurt. Always bring a friend or two, and of course, your camera. I used my new Sigma wide lens and love the effect.

Koger Arch

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

This weekend I ventured into one of Long Island's natural preserves. The little know Werthein Preserve is located on Smith Rd in Shirley, along the Carmen's River.
I had waited for the cooler weather to arrive and fall colors to explode. This weekend was the best and last time I think the colors and leaves will be seen on the trees.

The renovated Wertheim visitors building is quite impressive! It was built in 2012 and reminds me of an upstate Adirondack retreat, and since the architects  were from Syracuse, that makes sense.
Natural fauna and flora were utilized and the preserve was left heavily wooded, except for some parts of gravel maintenance roadway.

There are two main trails; The Black Tupelo and The White Oak Trails. I chose the White Oak trail which  runs down to the right from the parking lot.

My first stop to capture photos was from the bridge over the creek. The railroad tunnel is well documented by other visitors and I can see why.

Next, the open expanse of the Carmen's Creek  shimmered in the mid day sun, along with the multi colored trees on the banks.

There were a few boardwalks to lookouts on the river along the way as well. starting at the visitors cabin, I walked along the wooded path of the White Oak trail as it meandered along the edge of the water and into the woods, which looped back to the visitors cabin. The longest part takes almost three hours but I took the short cut.

If you were stressed before arriving, I guarantee you would be relaxed by the time you walked to the water. It seems to be a great tranquilizer.

Next time I will veer left on the Tupelo trail, that runs about 3 miles altogether.

I found more preserves on Long Island, mostly in Suffolk County and would like to visit them as well.

A Walk in Beauty

I recently joined a walking /hiking group that picks a different park or preserve to venture out into on weekends.
Living in the suburbs outside of Manhattan  can be stressful with the traffic, crowded stores and the rushing around during the workweek.

Saturday and Sunday can be quite hectic as well as some of us try to jam into these two days, all the fun and relaxation that we don't have time for during the week.
It's funny to think that this can create just as much stress as working.

There are wonderful gems of  undeveloped properties in Suffolk County so I am discovering them once again after a long hiatus out of state.

I enjoy the group of like-minded individuals who just wanted to commune with nature.We met at the parking lot of Connetquot State Park and started our 4-5 mile journey down the dirt path.
Our first stop was the fish hatchery, that recently opened again.
This was quaint and reminds one of the good ole days.
I actually saw some fish in the creek.

After that stop, we walked a bit and stopped at a bridge to gaze upon the beautiful hues of the late summer.
Trees were already changing the colors and the stream had a fascinating green bottom vegetation that seemed to sway in the currents.

The next leg of our walk was rather long,as we meandering through the pines and wilderness. I was falling further behind as I stopped to photograph and tried to keep up.

Luckily two other walkers were also falling behind and wanted to keep a slower pace.
The group noticed we were missing so they were waiting around the curve as we made our way after the 5th mile. The leader announced that we were going a further route today due to the tall grass that hid ticks on the other trail. Oh, that's why I'm tired! The temperature also had risen more than anticipated and was taking its toll.
As we carried on for the last leg of the 2 1/2 hour trek, a beautiful pond or lake filled with swans appeared. How graceful they looked!

I shot some photos again.
The Old Huntsmen Lodge was the last building I shot  (pardon the pun) before departing again for the car. I was happy to cool off and get back home to see my photos for the day.

Try to find your little oasis each week so you can refresh your batteries and get a new appreciation for what you have available.