Long Island Trail Lovers Coalition

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Bridgehampton / Sag Harbor

Long Pond Greenbelt Railroad Trail

 

 

Every Thursday Southampton Trails Preservation Society (STPS) has a trail work outing.  Last Thursday Tony Garro, the STPS trail maintenance supervisor, described to me the hike he led in the Long Pond Greenbelt.  Tony is an engaging speaker, a skill that he obviously refined during his many years of teaching history to high school students.  Tony led the group along the 3.5-mile abandoned railroad spur that from 1870 to 1938 connected Bridgehampton to Sag Harbor’s Long Wharf.  Tony explained that the connection between the spur and the Round Pond icehouse facilitated the shipping of ice to New York City.  He also mentioned the Griffing Brick Works and several other industries that flourished along the railroad spur.

Today the remains of this railroad bed runs between Poxabogue Pond and Mashashimuet Park.  The track was pulled up to supply steel during World War II. Subsequent vehicular traffic has made the trail tread loose and sandy in some places and corrugated in other places.  It is not the most pleasant trail to walk, but it is very useful because it runs through the center of the Greenbelt.  There is a network of more pleasant woodland trails that take you through this magnificent 1,100-acre expanse of interconnected ponds, woods, and wetlands.  I usually walk out and back on these trails rather than experience the bone-jarring trudge along the old railroad spur.  This damage is largely the result of the illegal use of ATVs and dirt bikes.  Eight years ago when I first started walking in the Greenbelt, I would park at the intersection of Old Farm Road and Haines Path or take Round Pond Road, off Sag Road, all the way to its end and park there.  Tony’s hike began near the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike / Jermain Avenue intersection.  When I first discovered this natural wonderland in Sag Harbor I didn’t know about the STPS maps or hikes.  I just wandered around and enjoyed the bountiful beauty of the Greenbelt.  If you want to know more about STPS call 631-537-5202.  One great resource for further enjoyment of the Greenbelt is the South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center (SOFO) www.sofo.org  631-537-9735.  After visiting SOFO, you will be better prepared to appreciate this ecologically significant area.

On September 10, East Hampton Trails Preservation Society (EHTPS) is leading a hike in the Long Pond Greenbelt.  If you join the trails groups for a hike or call for information, you should also inquire about Mike Bottini’s excellent trails resource, the Trail Guide to the South Fork.  The trails societies often lead hikes in the Greenbelt that are open to everyone.  A guided hike is the best way to start becoming familiar with the trails in this area.  The hikes are listed in the “Hiking Events” section of the www.hike-li.org website. 

If you want to follow Tony’s “trek on the tracks”, park on the east side of the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, 200 yards south of the intersection with Jermain Ave. There is a dirt parking lot facing Mashashimuet Park's tennis courts.  Follow a dirt driveway past the kiosk with a map.  As you pass the tennis courts bear slightly to your right and over a dirt berm.  The trails, for the most part, are not blazed.  Bring a map or trail guide with you so that you’ll know where you are and where all the interesting side trails go.  The spur passes by a trail intersection on your left that takes you to Round Pond.  The spur then continues over the Sprig Tree Trail; you will see Little Long Pond on your right.  Continue over the power line easement and pass by the Nature Conservancy’s split rail fences.  Here you can look to your left, down a steep embankment at Crooked Pond.  At this point you might start working your way back north on some more pleasant trails.  As you reach the southern end of Crooked Pond, you will come to a lightly used trail on your left.  Follow this trail over to the Crooked Pond Trail. Then follow the Sprig Tree Trail over the power line easement.  Cross over the spur twice and then when you intersect it for the third time turn left and follow it back to the parking area.

If you want to contact Tony about his upcoming September 11, Sag Harbor Maritime Tour (where he describes Sag Harbor’s whaling history).

 

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Long Island Trail Lovers Coalition

Ken Kindler
Open Space & Trails Advocate
Post Office Box 1466
Sayville NY 11782
ken@litlc.org

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