Nissequogue River — The Greenbelt Trail

Posted on January 8, 2012

It wasn’t too cold (today’s hi was 40F), but a little windy, and I was bundled up for the walk. Drove to a new place I had never been along the other side of the Nissequoge River from Short Beach. The Nissequogue River State Park encompasses part of the land of the old Kings Park Psychiatric Hospital. And a section of the Greenbelt Trail goes through here.

The park was completely empty, and the old buildings of the hospital complex seemed eerie. I tried to figure out exactly where the trail started. I followed the waterline, and found the path that matches up with the map. It was amazingly beautiful, as I walked along a sort of “heights” above the river, following along the banks just to where it reaches the sea.

There were a few paths down from the trail, where I could actually make my way to the edge of the water. I guess it was low tide (this river, is a “tidal basin” and actually flows differently depending on the tide), as I could walk right into the marsh grass, though i think when the tide is the other way, this whole section might be underwater.

In any case, it was a magnificent vista, and kind of like a “deserted island hideaway” that pirates of old might have uncovered to hide their treasures. It made me also think that so much of Long Island was probably some kind of smugglers’ paradise during the old prohibition days, as all these little inlets and coves give plenty of places to “hide out.”

If it weren’t so windy I might have sat down to draw, but I had to satisfy myself with taking some photos instead. I returned to the main trail and kept walking along the heights, now overlooking Short Beach and the take out point from the kayak trip of the other week. I was enjoying the walk until it abruptly ended, coming out into a clearing behind the old hospital complex. The buildings back here were completely abandoned and overgrown with weeds and it was a bit like a ghost town. But it had a slightly sinister feel and I couldn’t help thinking of images of the concentration camps with those institutional buildings everywhere, and perfectly manicured landscaping to make it seem innocuous.

I explored around the buildings a bit, and the only evidence of anything “unsavory” was the “artifacts” of young people hanging out — grafitti and broken bottles and trash.

The light was good, so I made a few photos of the buildings and a particularly interesting one of a broken window pane. Then tried to find the rest of the Greenbelt Trail according to my map. From what I could tell, the “trail” seemed to lead directly into a fenced in area. There was one spot that was only blocked off by a low cement wall, so I climbed over it and started to walk down toward the shoreline to get around the fenced-in part, but I turned back, because it looked like I was about to walk into someone’s back yard! (Unfortunately I cannot seem to find a detailed description of the routing of the “Greenbelt Trail” or a reliable map of it online, and so i am trying to piece together bits from maps that are obviously not so accurate).

I returned to the line of abandoned buildings and looped back to the parking area, a bit frustrated that I hadn’t found the rest of the trail (as it made for a rather short hike in the end), but glad for the amazing views along the heights, and the opportunity to enjoy the exploration in solitude (as i imagine on a nicer day weather-wise it might be a bit more crowded here).


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ITINERARY: The Greenbelt Trail segment through this park

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