Long Island Parks: Hempstead Lake State Park
Entrance Fee: $4 per car daily on May 25-Sept. 2, weekends/holidays Sept. 7-Oct. 14. Built around a sprawling lake, this 775-acre park also offers such attractions as an archery range and a carousel.
Hempstead Lake State Park
West Hempstead, NY 11552
Phone: (516) 766-1029
Overview: The Hempstead Lake State Park was developed around Hempstead Lake and has a large number and wide variety of paths and trails. Each visitor must enjoy the natural scenery and solitude, with plenty of opportunity to get the heart up to the target rate as well. There are some gentle paths for children new to horses and riding, while others challenge brave skiers.
There are excellent paths of bicycles as well. It is a child-friendly Park where the play grounds and the grand pavilion available for picnics. The carousel is made of hand-crafted wood, and has artistic and historic values apart from the joy it gives to young riders. The Park is also a suitable place for them to take to tennis, basket-ball and riding. Many children especially enjoy bringing along their pet dogs, even though close adult supervision is needed all the time, to stay within bounds and keep the animals on tight leashes.
Hempstead Lake State Park has also three ponds that are accessible for fishing. Fishing in Hempstead Lake is by catch and release only. McDonald Pond and South Pond are stocked with trout in the fall and everyone may target trout throughout the winter months.
Other species present include large mouth bass, chain pickerel, black crape, perch, tiger muskies, carp, and sunfish. In fact, the Park authorities arrange a festival in the fall to spread awareness of the joys and methods of fishing. The instruction programs are useful for both children and for adults who would like to take to the pastime. There are interesting exhibits and practical demonstrations that generate much general interest. The Park is a must on the routes of every avid angler whenever they are in Long Island, and the sport is a distinct advantage for those who reside near and around the Park.
Facilities: Softball field; basketball courts; 2 playgrounds; bike paths (1 mile); stables (rentals), bridle paths (4 miles); freshwater fishing (license); snack bar, picnic area; 12 clay tennis courts, 8 all-weather courts (fee collected April 27-Oct. 14).
Pets: Dogs only. Access in certain parks only, on a leash not more than 6 feet. Not allowed in camping, bathing and picnic areas. Not allowed in buildings or on walkways.
Events: Daily tennis tournaments July-August; tennis clinics; Summer Run Series, date not set; fishing clinics in August; cross country ski clinic.