Caleb Smith State Park Preserve - read more - 6-11-16
This past Saturday was ""National Get Outdoors Day,"" and I did. I had read about a fly-fishing tournament for kids at Caleb Smith State Park. I had never been to this park, so my husband and I donned our sneakers and went.
The 543 acre preserve has a ""variety of habitats that change with the season."" It has freshwater wetlands, ponds, streams, fields and upland woods. It is a ""passive park,"" meaning that pets, bikes, picnics, are not permitted. It is meant as a place that ""...allows visitors to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and enjoy the quiet serenity..."" (website) that surrounds you when you are here.
It was easy to get to, as its entrance is located on Jericho Turnpike. We pulled into the small parking area (paved and stone) and immediately noticed that there were no handicapped parking spaces. When we later went to the museum and visitor center we noted two handicapped spaces near this building. We were told that, if you have a handicapped sticker you can park here, even though the sign at the bottom says the road is not open to visitors.
As we walked up the paved road we found the fishing tourament for kids at Willow Pond, a beautiful, serene place. The session for kids ages 9 - 12 was in progress. The younger kids' session had taken place earlier in the day. It is a ""catch and release"" tournament, so no fish are harmed. Everyone seemed to be having a relaxed, good time; catching fish, having them measured, then returning them to their habitat. If you know a kid that might like fishing, or you would like to introduce him/her to it, the park offers clinics for kids. The park offers natures programs for all ages, year round.
We continued our walk, about 1/2 mile of paved roadway through the park. There are trails for varying abilities that can be accesssed from this main road. The only place to sit is a gazebo about one third of the way north. It would be a good idea if they added some benches along the way.
On our way back we went up the four steps to the Museum and Visitor Center. There is a wooden ramp as well. The single door entryway has a high threshold into the museum building. It was in here that we found a map as well as a scale model of the park. If you are planning to walk the trails, stop here for a map before you begin. We didnt think there were any maps because there were none with the other brochures located near the parking lot. Just inside the building entrance are the multi-stall, handicapped-accessisble restrooms (with baby-changing stations).
Th musuem and visitor center is a lovely place, especially for younger kids. There are several rooms offering kid-oriented, natural history exhibits about forests, ponds, rivers and wetlands, with some hands-on activities for kids. The two children we saw were happily viewing the animals (not alive).
After a conversation with the very gracious park manager and armed with maps, we headed out to the ""all access"" trail. It is a 1/2 miles path that could be lovely; however, it does not seem to have been well-maintained. I think it needs to be ""regraveled"" (if that is a word). In its present state it is an uneven, gravel path that has several large ""pot-holes"" that could be dangerous, especially to a wheelchair. In two locations there are white tubes that have been place across the path. There are also some deep ruts near the end of the trail. If you go, pay attention to where you are walking.
This is a lovely park that is open year-round ( although not on Mondays or Tuesday). They offer a variety of family programs and fishing from April - October.
As always, we at Destination:Accessible advise you to check a venue' website, www.nysparks.com, when planning a visit, to ""know before you go.""