Quality Parks - Long Island Parks - Otis Pike Ponds
Otis Pike PondsOtis Pike PondsOtis Pike PondsOtis Pike Ponds

Otis Pike Ponds

approx. 1000 acres

Last Updated: Sept. 4, 2021

Contributors: Andy-V.

Overall Observations:  Note a free permit is required to enter and/or park near in this reserve. This was one of the best natural parkland experiences I have found on Long Island. Relatively unfrequented and wild preserve. If there are no official “park events” here and no one parked out along the road, you are guaranteed one of the most wonderful, secluded, peaceful and scenic hikes around. Initial entrance area is infrequently maintained and locked gates block vehicle access to the lot and park interior. Two-track trail shows signs of maintenance and mowing but at time of visit was overgrow with hip high grasses. Further in, the park opens to meadows and then turns into a forested track that shows signs of ATV activity, but is nice and wide, sandy, and with very little encroaching vegetation. The trails meander through thick pine barren forest that creates an interesting cavernous environment beneath their high canopy and among their bare trunks. The trail I chose headed north/north-west along the eastern banks of three ponds and ended in a meadow just south of Grumman Blvd. Incredibly pleasant local surprise.

Long Island Explorer: Water Lilies are as fascinating and essential to the ecosystem, as they are beautiful. Two of the three ponds at this preserve that I could access exhibited a huge swatch of water lilies across much of both of their surfaces. These plants are incredible, providing shade and protection to wildlife below, while allowing places for aerial wildlife above to perch, rest, and drink. They also help prevent excessive evaporation of these small ponds by shading the out the sun. They also filter toxins and clean the water. No wonder these hard-working plants only bloom during the day, closing up overnight to conserve energy and protect themselves. 

Great environment for mushrooms. Looking for them keeps me observant in nature.

 Freshwater Observations: Phenomenal park to enjoy a unique and relatively rare landscape of pine barrens ponds. This portion of the preserve encompasses four main ponds, from south to north, Linus Pond, unknown, Forest Pond, and Preston’s Pond, all of which are linked and feed into the Peconic River to the south. Lots of animal activity near the ponds, ample tracks around watering entrances. Bird houses placed sporadically around ponds to encourage nesting for birds. A lot more variation in flora than other parks in the immediate area. The relatively wet surrounding environment helps increase diversity as always. The water seemed low, but appropriate given the hot summer and my early September visit. Grasses and rush dominated the pond edges, but even cranberries could be found. Pond surfaces were densely covered with water lilies, which, at Preston’s Pond, were so numerous and abundant in growth that they started pushing each other upwards out of the water. The water was warm and felt clean to the touch. I could not find a trail to access Forest Pond, but it is undoubtedly there.

Trail Observations: The trail network here is random and created by visitors over the years with a focus on access to the interior ponds. Trails branch and fork randomly and seem to be trampled in by hunters, hikers and ATVs over the years. There's no blazing or demarcation of properties/trails/points of interest of any kind. The preserve is bounded on the east and south by the Peconic River County Park - Robert Cushman Murphy County Park). To the north is Veteran’s Memorial Park and the Calverton Executive Airpark, while west lies the Peconic Ponds - Robert Cushman Murphy County Park and to the east lies the Calverton Ponds Preserve (all ponds connect and feed the Peconic River). There were no corridors or easements present at this park.

Wildlife Observations: 

Abundant wildlife was present here during this visit. Pond edges teemed with tracks from both forest rodents, deer, visitors, dogs, and every bird print you could imagine it seemed like. A great blue heron was observed fleeing his hunting grounds upon my approach to the first pond. Rabbits skittered as I walked the trail. Bird and insect activity teemed at the ponds, with both dragon and damsel flies flitting across the surface in search of a meal. Ticks were profusely abundant as in all parks around here, but only an issue at the outset of the preserve, where high and unavoidable grasses growing in the trail allow for perfect questing.

What Needs Improvement? Almost no signage of any kind anywhere in this park, entrance included. The entrance could be easier to access and find, with additional signage and perhaps an explanation of the require permit and a QR code link to find it. This way someone who just shows up can fill out the necessary forms and still enjoy the park without turning back. There are no blazes along the trails and you have to keep your wits about you so as to not get lost in the multi forked/branched trail network. I had to leave stick/scuff arrows in the trail Hansel & Gretel style to make sure I’d find my way back. Also, my phone’s GPS/maps were incredibly useful here.


July-Sep 2021
What's There?
forests & woodlands
pine barrens
What's Doing Great?
natural conditions
wilderness experience
What Needs Improvement?
tick bite prevention needs
trail needs
Otis Pike Ponds

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