Cranberry Bog Nature Preserve, like the berry after which it is named, is a tiny jewel set in the wetlands of Riverhead. The entrance to the preserve is located just south of the traffic circle by the river, on the west side of Lake Avenue. The Cranberry Bog Nature Preserve is tucked away in the headwaters of the Peconic River.
The 165-acre preserve offers an easy half-mile walk around Sweezey’s Pond, where you can wander through marshes, bogs and wetlands as well as see what, at one time, was Long Island’s largest cranberry farm, Woodhull Bog.
Parking is available off-road. The loop trail around Sweezy Pond will take you around. A sign points the way to the well-maintained trail at the end of the old tar road. You can take as long as you like on the loop, which is about a mile long. Native plants and animals are plentiful on the trail. You may even hear their raucous cries if you do not see one or hear a Great Blue Heron fishing here frequently. The pond is also visited by humans, ducks, and other waterfowl.
As you move through the seasons, you will experience a wide variety of sights, sounds, and smells. In the summertime, the sweet pepper bush fills the air with its intoxicating scent; right now, the deciduous trees’ foliage is almost gone, making the pond visible. The old pump house from when the Woodhull family farmed cranberries on the bog is visible about 3/4 of the way around the trail. There are still remnants of the ditches dug to direct water flow to the cranberry plants in the woods. Make sure you stop often to catch the beams of sunlight that dapple the surface of the water through the trees.
Riverhead‘s Cranberry Bog Preserve’s footbridge opened to the public Thursday following a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The footbridge has been closed for the last six years.
Natural wear and tear and storms had caused damage to the bridge. Suffolk County-owned land included a 1.1-mile trail that included the bridge, which had been standing for 30 years.
Change.org petition started by the Port Jefferson, New York non-profit, Quality Parks, called for the bridge to be repaired immediately. The county originally estimated that it would cost $30,000 to $40,000 to rebuild, however using recycled and repurposed materials, they were able to do so for $1,000.
“I’m proud to report this is a win-win situation because not only do we have access once again to the beautiful preserve, but we did it in a very cost-effective way,” Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming said at the ceremony. “Almost all the materials have been used elsewhere and were reused and recycled in order to make this bridge.”
A 165-acre preserve known for its white cedar trees that line the water, which acts as a recharge zone for the Peconic River nearby.
An abandoned cranberry-growing operation, the park is what remains of a cranberry farm, and there is an old pumphouse on the trail that is what remains of a water pump that operated when the Woodhull family farmed cranberries, according to the county website. Hikers pass through a variety of habitat types along the 1.2-mile trail, including marshes, bogs, and wetlands.
Even though the surrounding vegetation has changed over time, it’s still home to several types of ferns, which can be found in spring, as well as other native animals, such as wood frogs and turtles. Although the trail is handicap accessible, it is not wheelchair accessible.