Makamah nature preserve, fort Salonga, ny
Originally called Crab Meadow Park East Watershed, the Makamah Nature Preserve was acquired by Suffolk County in 1973. The easterly portion of the park is a valley that drains the surrounding area. This valley includes a main stream that was once dammed to form two ponds and several feeder streams, some spring-fed. The property was once owned jointly with what is now the Town Crab Meadow Golf Course, just to the west of the preserve. An additional tract of land on NYS Route 25A was dedicated, resulting in the trailhead parking area. An additional trail access is on Makamah Road, south of Breeze Hill Road. Other than that, I was unable to find anything online about its history.
Multiple trails in a 160-acre park. There is a 2.6-mile marked loop in addition to many unmarked trails. When I visited this summer, there was a sign recommending staying on the marked trails due to serious erosion on the unmarked trails. There was some erosion on the marked trails, as well, especially those with some elevation along the marshy side of the loop. The trails have gravel and small stones, which can prove to be slippery when going downhill. Caution is suggested.
Makamah Nature Preserve contains dry and wet woodlands, as well as marsh. It's a great place for birders, with at least 94 species of birds recorded in and around the property. Lots of owls and woodpeckers. As a Forest Therapy guide, just a human walking in the woods is enough to scatter the residents. A sit spot is always recommended at a favorite spot on the trail and after about 10-15 minutes, the wildlife will begin to return. Patience is key.
Level of Difficulty: Some difficulty includes narrow trails, a lot of intersecting unmarked trails, elevation and descent. Stones and gravel on trails may be slippery, even in dry times.
Restroom facilities: No
Observations of a Forest Therapy Guide:
The park contains heavily wooded hills, with lots of fallen trees from all the storms we've experienced. There is one hill rising to 60 feet at its center and others rising to 100 feet. It's pretty and you don't feel like you're on Long Island because we're used to the terrain being pretty flat.
It's so darn gnatty. I had to keep waving my hands in front of my face, even with all my industrial-strength, albeit organic, bug spray. I nearly whacked myself in the head a few times. Not many mosquitoes, though. It depends how resilient you are to the constant buzzing and dive-bombing. I would recommend another try at Makamah late October to see if it's still buggy. Otherwise, that might be a good time for a guided walk.
Trail: Having said that, it's a lot of work to get to a place where a guide could lead a walk. There are two entrances: you can park either in a small lot where Makamah Rd. and Route 25A meet or you can drive north on Makamah Rd where in a few minutes you’ll see the entrance on the left and an unofficial parking area for maybe 2-3 cars. The entrances are about .5 mile from each other, so I can't even recommend parking at one lot and walking to the other, smaller entrance, which is far better for Forest Therapy than the main entrance.
At Makamah Road, there is a long trail with a pond on your right. When you cross the pond, there's some nice open spaces for the kind of gatherings Forest Therapy requires. I would use that spot and do a radiating 'walk', meaning that we keep coming back to the same spot for circle and council, rather than a linear walk. Parking is still a bit clumsy unless you park at the main entrance and carpool to the smaller entrance with one or two cars.
Still, Makamah Nature Preserve is a beautiful place to walk with friends or your dog(s). It's clean for the most part. I saw some beer cans at one intersection of trails. Other than that, the only trash I saw was a deflated pink Mylar balloon. I always want to bring a garbage bag with me to remove any unsightly trash; sometimes I forget, like in this case. So, if you see the balloon or any cans, please remove them!