Paumanok Path Survey Hike #8
After climbing up the hill from the SYS parking area, Caroline, Bob, Jim, and I looked out over what is now a scenic vista. We then walked through a badly abused gate, following a trail marked with white blazes and the lime green ‘Hamlet to Hamlet’ signs. This trail took us to a locked gate inside the SYS fencing. Completing a half-mile loop, we returned to the first gate. We then followed the faded blazes outside the fence and found where the trail continues beyond the locked gate. After finding the trail, we lost it again on a poorly blazed switchback. We then passed a yellow owl blaze – these blazes lead to the Barrel Hill Trails. The blazing between the scenic vista and the yellow trail is in serious need of remediation.
The path turns onto a wide woods road. This road is badly churned up by the tires of off road vehicles. We followed this straight sandy path north about one mile to the next turn blaze, where we found Split Rock. Split Rock is a large glacial erratic. It’s a great place to sit and have lunch, providing an excellent vantage point for watching the woods below. Unfortunately, the rock has been defiled by spray paint. Continuing east, across Great Hill Road, the trail tread is well engineered and stable, but needs to be mowed between Great Hill Road, and Turtle Pond Road. The path follows a lively knob and kettle topography with tantalizing glimpses (between houses) of the Peconic Bay with Nassau Point and Robins Island in the distance. The PP continues to run northward from here weaving its way between backyards almost to Noyac Road.
The Paumanok Path is pushed north of the deepest, most crucial ground water deposits by residential development. In future generations, I’m sure that thirsty Long Islanders will not care so much that the PP must run north here to go east, but they may wish that we could have better protected this area from groundwater contamination. Despite the closeness of residential development, this section of trail still offers a very pleasant escape into nature.
When we came out onto Old Sag Harbor Road, we turned right. Better blazing is needed here; consider blazing the posts supporting signs, and flexi-stakes. There are no ‘Hamlet to Hamlet’ signs, even though the Southampton Trail Guide shows this trail running with the PP, all the way to the Long Pond Greenbelt. The trail along Broadway needs to be cut, cleared, and blazed, and moved off of private property toward the northern end of that road. A critical sharp turn located east of Turtle Pond Road has been vandalized, and needs to be blazed. Where we came out on Widener Lane the nearest phone pole should be blazed.
We crossed over Southampton Hills Court, noting the “No ATVs” Signs, and indeed there is no ATV damage on the trail. We entered into an area densely populated by mountain laurels. The blazing needs to be refreshed, but we had no trouble following the trail. When the trail reaches Laurel Valley Road, and in North Side Hills, there is insufficient blazing along the roads, but where the trails duck into the laurel woods the trail tread is stable and the blazing is adequate. The dense laurel forms a tunnel directing, and buffering the hiker from the nearby residences. Where the trail diverges from Deerwood Path there needs to be better blazing.
The kiosk at Laurel Valley County Park is in good condition, and informative. The path along the blue owl loop and through the preserved corridor to Middle Line Highway is a pleasure to walk. It is well-engineered, the trail tread is stable, and the blazing is good. We were also pleasantly surprised by a well constructed viewing platform looking out on an ocean of treetops.
The right turn coming out of Laurel Valley needs a blaze. Based on the location of the real estate sign it appears as if the PP will be coming out of the woods alongside a soon to be built residence. Walking along Middle Line Highway is stressful, because there is little room for pedestrian traffic. I think on the Town Trail map there should be a note, that when walking along roads, regardless of where the blazes are, always be on the side of the road facing into traffic.
When we made our left turn, heading north into the woods from Middle Line Highway, we were visually assaulted by splotches of red, white, and black paint on the trees along the trail. It will take many days of careful remediation to remove and hide this visual pollution. We followed the paint splotches south, to Camps Pond. This spring-fed pond in the Pine Barrens is a worthy destination, but not taking the side slope to approach Camps Pond is a missed opportunity. Side slope construction, if done correctly, is easily sustainable, and would offer the evolving visual delight of the reflected light from a body of water, and the expanding delight of blue framed by shore, tree canopy, and sky. With some benign attention the trail between Middle Line Highway and Noyac Path, could be a lovely experience.
When we came out onto Millpond Road, we turned left, crossed the road, so we would be facing traffic, and walking on ample road shoulders, we followed the blazes on the telephone polls a quarter mile, to our cars.
The next Paumanok Path Inventory Hike will meet Wednesday 05/20/15 at the intersection of Route 114 and Edwards Hole Road. From Montauk Highway, turn north onto Daniel’s Hole Road (East Hampton Airport), follow the road around the airport, and without turning, continue onto Wainscott Northwest Road to a stop sign. Turn right, onto Route 114; travel 0.5 miles. Look on the left side ofd the road for a formal parking area, and informational kiosk.