This 423-acre parcel of land comprises the largest single acquisition by Nassau County of New York City watershed property. The preserve is divided into three sections bounded by major roadways. The southern section, from Merrick Road to Sunrise Highway, contains the most diverse and ecologically valuable lands. Freshwater swamps, marsh, stream, lake and sandy-bog area provide habitat for many rare and endangered Long Island plants, including orchids, carnivorous sundews and bladderworts. The longest hiking trail in Nassau County, the Nassau-Suffolk Greenbelt Trail, begins at Merrick Road and Ocean Avenue and continues through the length of the preserve, ending at Cold Spring Harbor. Freshwater fishing is available in several of the lakes and streams (license required).
In December 2006, the Massapequa Preserve was named "Best Nature Preserve of Long Island " by Long Island Press, the weekly newspaper.
This location is another long thin Preserve that runs from Merrick Road to Linden Blvd. on the Northern end. It is a wooded area that surrounds a stream. The stream is dammed in several places to create a series of weedy ponds. Some of the woods are wet Red Maple woods. There are two paths which a birder can choose. One path is the Greenbelt Trail located through the woodland. The other is along the bicycle path which follows the stream and around the ponds. The second choice is the best for birders. Entry to the preserve is available from several locations. One entry is under the Long Island Railroad bridge north of an informal parking lot east of the Massapequa Railroad station. You can also cross Sunrise Highway to Clark Blvd. Pick up the Greenbelt Trail to Massapequa Lake. You can also park in the Railroad parking lot north of the railroad tracks and east of the station. Entry to the preserve is from a path at the southeast corner of the parking lot.
Brady Park on the eastern side of Massapequa Preserve was a stop for us purely because we'd promised our son a park to play in after a day of shopping. The park equipment there was dated, but play is play to a kid, and he enjoyed the funnily-shaped slides and the swings. A baseball diamond adjoins Brady Park.
The preserve itself is huge, 423 acres in total, and I'm glad we took the time to walk parts of the trail. It is, except for the trail, untouched bushland with many native flowers and birds, some of which I had never seen before. We stopped and studied quite a few of the plants and took a perfect photo-op on one of the bridges.
The park was fairly empty. Aside from the occasional jogger, walker or biker, we had many moments in which we had the peace and quiet of forest to ourselves.
I would return for a day out in the summer or spring; fishing is available at some of the waterways and a long bike trail (and a hiking trail) ensures that those who want the extra activity are catered to.
Watch for mosquitoes and bees, though. There are many and we were heavily bitten. However, it's a small price to pay for the beautiful, clean air and stunning surrounds.