Posts Tagged ‘ny’

Cranberry Lake Preserve and Kensico Dam

October 4, 2013

Cranberry Lake Preserve and Kensico Dam are so physically close together that I would recommend visiting both in one trip. It’s also appropriate to cover to two together because they share a history – the large amounts of granite dug up from the quarries around Cranberry Lake made the dam what it is today.

The lake preserve is about 190 acres, containing both a lake and several ponds. It has a good mixture of high and low terrain – grey cliffs give way to swamp in a concentrated area. Several trails provide a good introduction to the area. I’m going to guess that the purple trail is very popular because it leads you high up on the cliffs to survey the remains of a geological goldmine. But first, let’s highlight the views along the way…

Cranberry Lake itself is quite large and very peaceful.
Cranberry Lake Preserve

What looks like a stone shelter is really the remnants of a farmer’s storage shed.
Cranberry Lake Preserve

What would a forest be without a few moldering antique cars?
Cranberry Lake Preserve

At last we come to the quarry cliffs. I was told people would swim down there in the summertime. The water looks highly questionable though.
Cranberry Lake Preserve

Cranberry Lake Preserve

This large railroad wheel reminds us of what it took to get quarried stone from one place to another.
Cranberry Lake Preserve

The cliffs are everywhere – just a little rock scrambling up to the top will reward you with views of the hawks that live nearby.
Cranberry Lake Preserve

Kensico Dam is monstrous, to put it lightly. On one side is a flat park with a lot of lawn space. On the other side a gazillion gallons of water. The granite stone from Cranberry Lake is what keeps the water safely where it belongs. The dam has been in place since 1917.
Kensico Dam

Kensico Dam

Rather than just stare upwards from the foot of the dam, you should take a walk along the length at the top. To get to the top, you have choices on either end of the dam. If you choose the left side, you will encounter some steep steps. The right side has a gentle slope that’s good for bikes, strollers, and wheelchairs. There used to be car access at the top, but that is no longer the case after 9/11.

The view at the top is lovely. So much water! I’ve heard that people fish for trout here.
Kensico Dam

Cranberry Lake Preserve is in Westchester near White Plains. It is open from dawn to dusk and there is no entry fee. No dogs or bikes are allowed. Kensico Dam is a 3-minute drive away. It also has no entry fee. Feel free to bring your dogs and bikes here. The wide open lawn space is also ideal for kite flying.

Sands Point Preserve

May 24, 2013

I am not sure how I heard about this place, but once I found out there was a castle on the grounds, my interest was piqued. Castle Gould was built in 1902 by railroad tycoon Jay Gould and modeled after Kilkenny Castle in Ireland. His wife did not care for it, so it ended up serving as the stables and servants’ quarters. Imagine that! A castle just for the servants and horses! The Goulds, instead, made their home in a Tudor-style mansion nearby called Hempstead House. Jay later sold the estate to the Guggenheims, who kept it in the family until 1971, when it was willed to Nassau County as a museum site. The grounds are extensive and look out onto Long Island Sound. You can easily see how this estate was considered a gem along the “Gold Coast” of Long Island. Today, there are a number of trails on the grounds and the buildings are still in good condition.

This is Castle Gould, which is now the Visitor’s Center where they hold educational programs. The castle’s limestone facade contains fossils along its surface.  Quite interesting and worth the look!

Sands Point Preserve

One of the trails leading away from the Visitor’s Center skirts the freshwater pond nearby. It is a nesting place for ducks, but we did not see any that day.

Sands Point Preserve

If you keep walking past the pond, you will hit trail #5 – this will take you to the cliffs and beach along Long Island Sound. Unfortunately, the beach is in bad shape right now, possibly from Hurricane Sandy. There are signs not to enter and broken-up concrete litter the entire beach. You should heed the warning because even the stairs leading down to the beach are not safe.

Sands Point Preserve

This is Hempstead House, a mansion containing 40 rooms!  They were setting up for a wedding reception on the day we were there so we could not go inside. Normally, you can go in and look around, although it is not actually furnished anymore.

Sands Point Preserve

I would not say the trails are all that interesting, but at least they are well-marked and easy to navigate. They would be good for families with children.
Sands Point Preserve

The preserve is in Port Washington, Long Island. It takes about 45 minutes by car from Manhattan. Admission is $10 per car. Dogs are welcome, but bikes are not.  There is a third building that is on the grounds that you can visit called Falaise.  It is a Normandy-style mansion on a cliff that is still furnished appropriate to the period. We decided not to go since we were there very early and the tour hours did not work for us. If you are interested in visiting it, you are required to do the tour – tours start at noon and occur every hour on the hour until 3pm. They will pick you up at the Visitor’s Center and drive you to the mansion. Otherwise, you cannot go there on your own. There is a separate admission charge of $10 a person.

Caumsett State Historic Park

June 8, 2012

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.

Caumsett

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.

Caumsett

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.

Caumsett

The best place to picnic here is at the back of the mansion facing the pond and the Sound beyond.

Caumsett

A short downhill stroll from the mansion leads you to the lake-sized pond.
Caumsett

Much of the walk to get to the shore is through shady wood.
Caumsett

Caumsett

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

Caumsett

Caumsett

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.