Paddling his canoe south along the lower part of the Carmans River, Brad DeSantis passed partially bare trees with leaves changing red and orange with the season.
After ducking under the Montauk Highway overpass, the clamor of traffic faded and was quickly replaced by gentle chirps from crickets and birds.
“People come here to fish or paddle for the day and just enjoy the wildlife, scenery and peacefulness of the river. And you can see that autumn is here. It’s beautiful this time of year,” said DeSantis, 43, co-owner of Carmans River Canoe and Kayak II in Brookhaven. The business, which has the only dock with direct access to the lower part of the river, rents canoes, kayaks and paddleboards. It also offers tours.
This is actually DeSantis’ second time at the helm of a canoe shop at the location. After working there as a teenager, taking up wind surfing on the river, he bought the operation in 1980. He sold it in 2000 to Northport-based Glacier Bay Sports, which eventually closed shop and handed it over to the Town of Brookhaven in 2008. The town sought another operator, and in stepped DeSantis again. He now has a 10-year lease to run the property. He reopened the business in July with a revamped dock and the addition of “II” to its name.
The Carmans River runs 10 miles in Brookhaven from Middle Island to the mouth of Bellport Bay in Shirley. It is one of the four major rivers on Long Island and is protected as part of the Long Island Central Pine Barrens.
“On the upper river, you’re paddling through Southaven County Park and on the lower part you paddle through Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge,” DeSantis said. “It’s the last real resource we have on the Island that’s truly natural. It’s beautiful.”
DeSantis said visitors can take in an array of wildlife such as red-tailed fox, osprey, a pair of nesting eagles, striped bass, trout, carp, white perch and turtles.
“They can explore streams for hours, pull their boat up and bring a picnic and walk on natural trails at the refuge,” DeSantis said. “This will always be a nice place for people to come and enjoy the river.”
BY THE NUMBERS
Launch site access
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends until Oct. 31. Free for Brookhaven Town residents, $5 for others.
Full-day canoe, double kayak or paddleboard: $80
Full-day single kayak: $70.
90 minutes for kayak or canoe: $25.
90 minutes for double kayak: $35.