by Matthew Ambrosio |

If you’re looking for a place close to home where you can connect with nature — or a good friend — take a trip to Southards Pond in Babylon.

Don’t let the name fool you. Yes, there’s the pond that’s known to yield large yellow perch and other freshwater fish. But this is a good-sized town park that’s full of nature paths that wind over and around streams, tunnels and places to get lost. 

The pond itself is part of the Carll’s River system, which runs from Geiger Park in Wyandanch, through Belmont Lake and into Argyle Lake before hitting the Great South Bay Estuary.

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It’s located just south of Sunrise Highway. And for me, it’s just the place.

As a person who’s building a business designing fashion, and banking on creativity and risk, it’s important to nurture and promote that creativity with abundance.

Clearing a busy mind can unleash a flood of ideas that will make you grab for a notebook and pen or a self-addressed text note. So when low on creative fuel, I head straight to nature. In this case, it was Southards Pond Park.

If you are not familiar with the 19 acres of forested beauty, it’s a place full of friendly people, their four legged companions and plenty of inspiration. Plus, it’s so roomy it never feels crowded. (Except on Labor Day! The paths were full but that was great to see.)

That also means so many locals know about it, but I had never went.

Maybe you haven’t either; read on.

GETTING THERE

There are several entrances, but if you are coming from my neck of the woods, the Poet Section of North Babylon, it’s off DPA two blocks west to Pond Place, just south of Sunrise. (Map below.) You’ll know you’re close when quaint old homes begin to appear and you see the water peaking out from the backyards. If you’re driving, parking is available at Southards Lane and Pond Place.

GREAT FOR A BIKE

I chose a bike as my mode of getting around. You can see a lot more and it’s also fun if you like a hilly turf which makes for some “rad” moments, as my longtime leisure loving artist friend Jae would always say.

FIND A PLACE TO HIDE

There are little nooks to get off the main path to read a book, rest to look at a map like the woman in the photo. The park could use some more places to sit that’s not grass. Of the benches that are there, each is made from repurposed tree trunks that were fashioned into comfortable wooden sitting spots by cutting out a wedge lengthwise. I think I also found a great place to photograph my AMBRO fashions!

PACK THE PUPS

This is a pet friendly place full of nice people and dogs. I recently witnessed two lucky pups who had gone for a swim. This is Luna and she’s from East Islip. Even though they have the gardens of the Arboretum and Heckscher Park in their own backyard, they still come to Southards Pond because it not only allows dogs, but welcomes them.

BOND WITH A HORSE

If you keep traveling north, over Sunrise, you’ll eventually run into a local stable called the Babylon Riding Center in West Babylon. This is a good time to break out the boots! If you’ve never ridden a horse go in denim and durable footwear to be confident on a powerful animal. I speak from personal experience.

TIPS & TRICKS
  • The park is nestled between two neighborhoods so be considerate of the residents by minimizing the noise level and keeping the area clean.
  • Dress appropriately. Now’s a good time to enjoy being outdoors due to the more comfortable temperatures. Grab a lightweight drawstring backpack and fill it with water, a light jacket and even an energy boosting snack if you plan on biking north to adjoining Belmont Lake State Park.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. The trails are active with local residents who jog with their dogs, bikers getting exercise and people on horseback. All of my visits were during the afternoons and I felt very safe but always be aware of your surroundings. And be aware of what the horses leave behind! The park is closed from dusk to dawn.
  • You can also visit the Southards Pond Facebook listing and share your experiences.