Last weekend, we decided to explore a small preserve in Smithtown known as Arthur Kunz County Park. This wooded area is located on Landing Road and runs along the Nissequogue River. There is no designated parking area, so we tucked ourselves as far off the road as possible and proceeded down the road to the gate leading into the park.
The area was heavily scented with the heady aroma of the Multiflora Rosa or Rambler Rose. I was surprised to learn later that this shrub is considered invasive and listed as a noxious weed in over 40 states. I could not find the status for New York. It’s a shame something so beautiful would be invasive but it was clear that this plant was everywhere.
We soon came to the white markers of the Greenbelt Trail which runs 32 miles from the Long Island Sound to the Great South Bay. We have traveled sections of this trail over the past year when we hiked Sunken Meadow, Sweetbriar Farm, Hidden Pond and Lakeland Park. So I am getting closer to eventually walking all of the Greenbelt Trail. At this juncture, we headed south to discover what this portion of the park had to offer.
Shortly into our walk, we came across an abandoned car (or two?) off in the woods. From what we could make out of the style, this decaying vehicle has been there a long time. The style was reminiscent of the 50’s or 60’s. The vegetation was slowly covering over the remnants of the wreck, nature attempting to reclaim the area.
From this point the trail meandered around, offering us views of the Nissequogue River. We took one of the side trails towards the water to pause and study the area. The tide was out, but the mud flats displayed their own form of beauty. We discovered a line of horseshoe crab shells along the high tide mark. I did not investigate too closely, so I do not know if the crabs had shed their shells or if they had been stranded as the tide went out. Across the water, I spotted a nesting swan, her mate acting as sentry swam back and forth in front of her. On another side trail further on, the beach was alive with Fiddler Crabs; scurrying down into the mud at the sound of our footsteps, only to reappear when they thought it was safe.
Heading away from the beach, the trail inclined slightly, still following the river. Along the trail, we discovered a debris field of yellow-orange petals. We soon located a flowering Tulip Tree, the flowers almost done for the season. The trail narrowed here, as the abundant Poison Ivy attempted to close in on either side. We stepped carefully along the trail, still following the white blazes of the Greenbelt Trail until we reached the parking area of a Golf Course. The trail continued on the other side of the parking area, so at this point we decided to turn back the way we had come.