Belmont Lake State Park is located in Elmont, Nassau County and holds a lot of history, making it special for visitors and locals alike.
The History of Belmont Lake State Park
In 1902, Navy William C. Whitney and August Belmont headed a syndicate that wanted land on Long Island with the aim of building the best track in America. The race courses of Europe would inspire this track. After endless hours of searching, they came across a piece of land on the border of Nassau County and Queens County.
Belmont Lake State Park was first known as Foster’s Meadow and was a 650-acre piece of land that housed a Tudor-Gothic mansion that was owned by Willian de Forest Manice. Belmont Lake State Park was opened to the public in 1905, causing endless traffic jams in the history of Long Island as 40,000 fans arrived at the race.
This was one of the most popular races in history as August Belmont II’s Blandy went toe-to-toe with Oliver Cromwell’s Belmont Inaugural. James R. Keen’s Sysonby also showed up, making his three-year debut against Beldame.
The best and most popular race at Belmont Park includes the Belmont Stakes. In 1910, OrvilleWright and Wilbur hosted an international aerial competition here that attracted a total of 150,000 viewers. Later in 1918, the track was used for the first airmail service between Washington and New York as it was used as a terminal.
In 1940, the park was the site of “War Relief Day” to help the American Red Cross, and in 1943, “Back the Attack Day” was hosted here. Admissions were only given if individuals bought a war bond, causing sales to skyrocket to $25 to $30 million.
Belmont Park closed down in 1963 and reopened in 1968. Over the next ten years, the park attracted spectators who came to watch Seattle Slew, Secretariat, Affirmed, Omaha, Gallant Fox, Count Fleet, Citation, Whirlaway, and Sir Barton become Triple Crown winners.
The most significant event in history was when Rags to Riches beat Curlin and became one of the three winners of the race, becoming the first filly in a total of 102 years. After eight years, the 12th Triple Crown winner award was given to American Pharoah when he won in 2015.
What is So Special about Belmont Lake Park
Every year, there are two racing schedules at the park that run from April to mid-July. The races start again in the fall in September and run through October.
Belmont Lake State Park is where Belmont Stakes takes place every year. Belmont Stakes is considered the most complicated “Triple Crown” challenge, consisting of three yearly horse races- the Belmont Stakes in June, Preakness in May, and Kentucky Derby in May.
In the past decades, only 11 horses have been fortunate enough to win the Triple Crown, so every year, bets are placed, and horses are cheered on as spectators pray to change history.
When races are not being held, the park is available to the public for other events. It is a beautiful park with big open spaces that are great for sports and open events.
Things to Do at Belmont Park During the Off-Season
1. Bird Watching
Spring is the perfect time to go bird-watching at Belmont Lake State Park. The trees are just starting to bloom, and the air is filled with the sound of birdsong.
As you stroll along the well-marked trails, you’re likely to see various birds, including cardinals, bluejays, and woodpeckers. Keep your eyes open for bald eagles and ospreys, which can sometimes be spotted near the lake.
Campers can choose from various campsites, each as big as the last. You can set your tent in many open spaces without worrying about bumping into other visitors. Whether you are looking for a peaceful weekend getaway or an adventurous escape, Belmont Lake State Park is sure to offer something for everyone.
3. Bike Riding
There’s nothing quite like a summer day spent bike riding at Belmont Park. The fresh air and beautiful scenery are the perfect backdrops for a leisurely ride. But what makes Belmont Lake State Park truly special is its commitment to making biking accessible for everyone.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day in nature or an adventurous workout, bike riding at Belmont Lake State Park is sure to provide the perfect opportunity. Bring your family and children and spend a fun day at the park when races are not taking place!
Bottom Line – Is Belmont Lake State Park Worth Visiting?
As any seasoned traveler knows, some destinations are worth the extra effort to get to. Belmont Lake State Park is one of those places. Nestled among tall trees and picturesque hills, the park offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
With its miles of hiking trails, scenic picnic areas, and peaceful fishing spots, Belmont Lake State Park is perfect for relaxing and enjoying the outdoors. We recommend visiting the park during peak season so that you can experience the races and crowds of spectators who come out into the park. However, if you are not interested in racing, you can always visit the park during the off-season and enjoy the other activities offered here.