Summer Recreation in the Pine Barrens

Summer weather is finally here!  Whether you’re spending time with your family or flying solo, there are many ways to get out of your house and appreciate the sunshine and warm temperatures.  Let’s explore some fun activities you can enjoy in our very own Pine Barrens.


Kayaking, Canoeing, and Row Boating

Living on an island, we are lucky to have access to water all around us.  Bored with going to the beach?  Trade your swimsuit and towel for an oar or a paddle!

Journey down the scenic Carmans River, and observe the different fish and wildlife that inhabit the river and its shores.  You might see some turtles sunbathing on nearby logs or along the river banks.  You are also bound to see a large variety of birds if you pass through the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge in Shirley, which is home to almost 300 bird species.  Carmans River Canoe & Kayak II, located on Montauk Highway in Brookhaven, offers rentals and guided tours.  If you’re feeling adventurous, check out their moonlight guided tour.  In addition, rowboat rentals are offered by Suffolk County Parks at Southaven County Park in Yaphank, which the Carmans River flows through.  Fun fact: Southaven County Park was the site of the Pine Barrens Protection Act’s signing in 1993.

Another Pine Barrens park kayakers, canoers, or row boaters can enjoy is Indian Island County Park in Riverhead.  This park features a self-launch area along the Peconic River.  Need to rent?  Peconic Paddler offers a variety of options, including numerous types of kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddle boards.  Enjoy the distinctive ecology of the Peconic Estuary, and observe the many unique aquatic species, such as bay scallops, summer flounders, and eelgrass.

Kayaking, canoeing, and row boating are not only fun pastimes, they are also great workouts!  Your arms might be sore the next day, but you won’t care after experiencing the wildlife that makes Long Island special.

LIPBS Guided Kayak Tour at Quogue Wildlife Refuge in May 2021.
Credit: Long Island Pine Barrens Society



Whether you enjoy freshwater or saltwater fishing, there are many great fishing spots in the Pine Barrens.

Sears Bellows County Park in Hampton Bays features a plethora of freshwater ponds and creeks, where you can catch many different fish, such as bluegill, bass, perch, and pickerel.  Another great freshwater fishing spot is Swan Pond in Calverton, which offers a relaxing natural environment for anglers.  Many fish species inhabit this pond, including yellow perch, pumpkinseed, sunfish, and brown bullhead.  Further west in Middle Island is Artist Lake, an irregular-shaped lake that contains a variety of warm-water fishes.  This lake is a great place to catch largemouth bass, black crappie, chain pickerel, and common carp.  Make sure to purchase your New York State Fishing License through the Department of Environmental Conservation.

For those interested in saltwater fishing, you can visit Indian Island County Park in Riverhead, where the Peconic River empties into Flanders Bay.  Some marine fish you might catch here are bluefish, porgy, striped bass, and weakfish.  Anglers will also enjoy the peaceful view of Flanders Bay, which is situated between the north and south forks of Long Island.

Credit: Michael Coghlan



What’s a better way to celebrate summer than to sit around a campfire and eat s’mores?  Whether you’re roughing it with a tent or you have a travel trailer or RV, there are plenty of Pine Barrens parks that offer camping sites.

Located along the headwaters of the Carmans River, Cathedral Pines County Park in Middle Island offers over a hundred campsites for tents and trailers, with 10 sites equipped with water and electric hookups.  While staying at this park, you can go hiking in the nearby Prosser Pines Nature Preserve, another Pine Barrens park that contains impressive White Pines.  Don’t forget to check out the cool Tree Fort there!

A little further south along the Carmans River is Southaven County Park in Brookhaven.  Over 1,300 acres in size, this park has sites for tents and trailers, with 51 sites that have electric hookups.  As discussed earlier, Southaven also offers rowboat rentals, so you can explore the wildlife while traveling down the beautiful Carmans River.  Anglers will also enjoy camping at this park as freshwater fishing is permitted here.  Don’t miss the Long Island Live Steamers‘ ridable steam, diesel, and electric trains that are perfect for the whole family!

Not only is Indian Island County Park in Riverhead a great place for water recreation activities, it is also a popular camping site.  This scenic park near the Peconic River features sites for tents and trailers as well as restrooms and shower facilities.  Fishing, kayaking, bird watching, and hiking are all activities you can enjoy while camping at Indian Island.  This park also offers one of the finest picnicking sites in Suffolk County.

Another great camping spot on the south fork is Sears Bellows County Park in Hampton Bays.  This park contains 30 tent sites and 40 trailer sites.  Rowboat rentals are offered on freshwater Bellows Pond, where fishing is also permitted as mentioned before.  There is also an extensive trail system that is popular among hikers.

Plan your trip and make a reservation at one of these parks today!

Camping in Sears Bellows County Park.
Credit: Gino D. (


Nothing is better than spending time in nature and letting your worries drift away, with the summer breeze blowing through the trees.  Take some time to appreciate the Long Island Pine Barrens by participating in these delightful activities with your friends and family.  Check out our recreation guides on our website for more helpful information.  Enjoy!


By: Kaitlyn Sherman, Long Island Pine Barrens Society

Cover Photo: Frank Schmidt