Caumsett offers a little something for everyone. Within this park on Long Island Sound, you will find hills, open meadows, a pond, woods, marshland, and a shoreline. In the 1920′s, the millionaire Marshall Field III bought the land and turned it into a country club and hunting grounds. The Native American name that he chose for his estate means “place by a sharp rock.” His vast estate epitomized a life of leisure, and thankfully, when it was given to New York State in 1961, it was turned into a public park for others to enjoy. Today, you can go fishing, scuba diving, horseback riding, birdwatching, jogging, biking, and hiking within the 1500-acre grounds.
There are certain remnants of the old estate still left, sprinkled throughout the grounds. Near the entrance to the park, you will come across what used to be his dairy farm. If you are interested in seeing more of the old estate, there are ample signs pointing you down the road to his summer and winter cottages. They are not open to the public.
Also near the entrance is an equestrian center where you can take riding lessons. We saw a group riding around the park on the early morning that we were there.
My visit to Caumsett offered a not only a nice 4-mile stroll among the different environs, but also a side trip down memory lane. In sixth grade, my class spent a few days here on a science excursion. We stayed at the mansion at the top of the hill and learned about the ecological history of the Sound. It was an eye-opening experience for a city girl. I believe the mansion is still used for school excursions. However, it is not open to the public.
The best place to picnic here is at the back of the mansion facing the pond and the Sound beyond.
A short downhill stroll from the mansion leads you to the lake-sized pond.
Much of the walk to get to the shore is through shady wood.
The beach is not the type that is good for sunbathing. It is rocky and littered with shells and seaweed. It also smells a little from the drying seaweed, but is worth the stroll for the nice breeze and change of environment.
Caumsett is only accessible by car and is about an hour’s drive from the city. It is located at 25 Lloyd Harbor Road in the town of Huntington. Supposedly, it is open daily from sunrise to sunset, but when we were there last weekend, the sign said the park would close at 6pm. The parking fee is $8. Dogs are not allowed, I think because of the horses, but bikes and strollers are welcome. There are wide swaths of open field with no shade, so bring a hat and/or sunglasses. If you are visiting the marshes, bring bug spray. There are a number of guided hikes offered this summer on the weekends. Check the listing here.