Some of the history behind the Edgewood Preserve trail

The history behind the Edgewood Oak Brush Plains State Forest in Deer Park/Brentwood (or AKA Edgewood Preserve trail) is an interesting one that dates back to 1930s when the land was purchased by New York State for the purpose of building psychiatric hospital facilities.

This hospital became notorious for lobotomies performed in the 1940s-1950s - I’m of course talking about the Pilgrim State Psychiatric Center. The large hospital center was originally designed to be a so-called Farm Colony that helped New York City’s mentally ill with serene surroundings for recovery instead of institutionalizing them. While many of the buildings from the Center still exist, it ceased operating in 1971.

The land that surrounds the Edgewood Preserve trail was slowly migrated over to the DEC through transfers and purchases in the 1980s and 1990s. In addition to the psychiatric buildings, the land is filled with second largest pitch-pine scrub oak in New York State which is one of the reasons why it is now managed by the DEC as protected land.

The official mountain bike trail system came much later on in the 2010s (or so) with much work by the Friends of the Edgewood-Oak Brush Plains preserve, and more specifically CLIMB. A simple trail through the woods, with the odd rail track here and there) became much more exciting as additional branches of varying difficulty have been added over the years that also help increase the mileage by quite a bit - around 20 by some accounts.

Keep in mind you need a DEC permit to ride the trail and it’s usually better before the warmer months when the critters are flying and the growth has died back off the trail.

If you know more about the trail and property, feel free to comment below!

Sources and links:

Wikipedia entry on Pilgrim State:
Pilgrim Psychiatric Center - Wikipedia

Pilgrim State Psychiatric Center and lobotomies:
The scary days when thousands were lobotomized on Long Island - The Village Voice

Friends of Edgewood-Oak Brush Plains:

Home of CLIMB - Concerned Long Island Mountain Bicyclists - C.L.I.M.B. Online

DEC use permit
State Land Access Permits - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation

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