Just off Seminary Hill Road in Carmel, the relatively new Camarda Park is a 36-acre property that offers sports fields, a kid’s playground, two basketball courts and a nice, short Autumn walk.
To get there from the Brewster area, head towards Carmel on Route 6. Just before the T-intersection with Route 52, make a left onto Church Street. Make the first left onto Seminary Hill Road. At .8 miles, bear to the right to stay on Seminary Hill Road. After 1.4 miles, near the end of the guardrail, turn right onto the park access road. There is a sign for the park immediately before the entrance.
The access road winds downhill passing a wetlands area and stormwater collection basin with a bench and sitting area on the left. If you look closely you may see what look like trail markers on wooden posts. A bike/pedestrian path follows the right side of the road. The road then heads uphill to bring you to a large parking lot that is mostly gravel.
Off to the right are two baseball diamonds, a playground and a large pavilion with picnic tables underneath. The roof of the pavilion is still under construction, but it is open for use. (NOTE: As of spring 2012, the pavilion is gone. It was destroyed during a storm.) The playground sits on a raised bed of woodchips. Off to the left there is a soccer field and two basketball courts. The basketball courts are so nice I wish I could actually play.
Almost all the trees in the interior of the park were removed, so I would think it could get pretty hot in the summer, but this time of year the weather was perfect. The Fall sun gives both the fields and surrounding woods an indescribable quality.
We took a walk back down the access road to where we saw the bench because it looked like there was a trail there. There is a moved path that leads partially around the two stormwater water basins. The trail markers I thought I saw are actually boarder markers for a “regulated area”, but if you stay on the safe side of them you can use them as a trail guide.
A perusal of the Department of Recreation & Parks 2008 Master Plan on the Town of Carmel’s website mentions a possible nature trail and a few other improvements for the park, and a few blue diamond markers on some of the “regulated area” signs seems to indicate the nature trail is a work-in-progress.
We walked around the perimeter of the park, following the treeline and the “regulated area” signs. The walk took us maybe 20 minutes. A good portion of the path was mowed, but we ended up pulling stickers and burrs off our clothes before getting back in the car. There were a few benches scattered around, and there are also a series of storyboards that explain the stormwater management system used in the park.
While a trail here may not satisfy an advanced hiker, this park has a lot of potential to be a great place for a family to visit. I think that as the growth around the manmade drainage basins matures, it could make for a really nice place to enjoy the outdoors, without getting too far from civilization. And the reward of some playground time at the end of the walk keeps the kids interested.
Camarda Park is owned by the Town of Carmel. It was donated by real estate developer Paul Camarda in 1999, but the park was not opened until 2009. As of now there are no permanent restroom facilities, but there was a port-a-john for those in need. For more information about the park, contact the Carmel Recreation and Parks Department at 845/628-7888, or visit them at www.carmelny.org/recreation/.