On a day off while on a business trip to north-central Long Island, I set off hoping to find a local park with a bit of shore access. Being a Sunday on a tolerably cool autumn day, I had expected to find only crowded city park trails and nature reserve parking lots filled to capacity.
Visiting the Area
Finding the Park was a bit difficult. There were no signs pointing the way, and the public access is on a small back road in the town of Belle Terre. Not helping any was the unwelcoming vibes. For starters, the public street is ‘decorated’ with a large feature that resembles a private neighborhood security gate. Then, once in the town, the streets are posted with hundreds of “No Parking” signs. Some signs at the county park even state, “Residents Only.”
It turns out that the only available parking is a small spot on Anchorage Road large enough for four cars. Unbelievably, there were no other cars, and during my entire visit there were no other park visitors at all.
The end of Cliff Road is a scenic lookout over McAllister County Park and the Long Island Sound. There is no parking allowed anywhere near the lookout, or anywhere else, so park at the Anchorage Road area and walk back up the hill. It was about this time that I developed the idea that police in New Mexico should patrol our public parks looking for New York cars to ticket and tow.
Hiking the Park
The McAllister County Park itself is only 113 acres, but by walking the shore line around the entire property it’s possible to log a hike over three miles long. I started at the parking area and followed the water’s edge to the base of the cobble dunes.
From this point I climbed over the hill of loose sand and cobbles to the saddle of the dune ridge with the calm protected bay on one side and the choppy cold Long Island Sound on the other.
Down the ridge to the shore and looking back to the east.
Following the shore to the west, aiming for the signal point, are some larger boulders deposited by glaciers.
The ferry route from Port Jefferson Station to Connecticut runs very close to the shore line.
A large portion of the park area is low, marshy, and grass-covered. I didn’t explore this flat area much, but there are remnants of historic shipping and erosion control efforts along the bay edge.
I’d like to know the origin of these stones on the beach, and wish I was more familiar with maritime archaeology. Perhaps the stones are unloaded ballast?
To the east of McAllister County Park are a number of large public beach areas. I stopped at one of these with the cold wind blowing the surf across the parking area. Unsurprisingly, there were no people at this park either.
To the west of McAllister Park is Port Jefferson, a historic ship building town.