Long Island Trail Lovers Coalition

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Manorville Trails Information Center
 

 

If you drive out to the Hamptons via the Long Island Expressway, you are probably familiar with County Road 111 off exit 70.  This road runs on an east - west diagonal and connects the Long Island Expressway with Sunrise Highway.  There are days when traffic at exit 70 can be backed up for one mile or more.  One can guess as to why the Highway Department chose to erect a sign indicating that the road runs north and south and the local maps designate it as “The Port Jefferson – Westhampton Highway”.  It doesn’t actually go to either place, but any technique to alleviate a traffic jam can’t be all  bad I suppose.

To many hapless drivers who find the concept of driving south in order to travel east confusing, the Manorville Trails Information Center provides an oasis of sanity, and the people who work there become angels of mercy.  Lillian McGarvey, who has worked there for as long as I can remember, tells me that “Which way to the Hamptons?” is the most common question she receives.  The Trails Center is manned and funded jointly by the Long Island Greenbelt Trails Conference and the Suffolk County Parks Department.

I visit the Trails Center often because it is a major hub of activity in the world of Long Island hiking, and it has restrooms!  As anyone who has endured this commute knows, traffic headed east can keep you in your car for one heck of a long time and my car, like yours, unfortunately lacks the appropriate facilities.

There are many other great reasons for people who are traveling out east to visit the Trails Center.  The people working there, Lillian, Brigitte, and George know all the beautiful natural places to visit on Long Island.  They really love what they do and will work very hard to find a hike that’s right for you.  The Trails Center is generally open from 9 AM to 5 PM Friday through Monday from May to October.  It is stocked with literature and maps of beautiful places to visit. Children love the Pine Barrens Touch Museum that is housed here.  Another treat, is the beautiful mural created by local artists Rick Reason and George Fernandez.  This painting makes you feel as if you have already stepped into the forest even while you are still inside.

Behind this friendly looking structure is the 0.75-mile Blueberry Loop Trail.  This trail is open all year from sunrise to sunset.  When the trail was dedicated in 1995, it was called the Wampmissick Trail. In 2001, it was dedicated as “El’s Trail” in honor of M.E. “El” Burton, a longtime member of the LIGTC’s Board of Directors.  It was El’s idea to improve the surface and grade of the trail in order to make it more accessible for visitors who experience some difficulty walking or who use a wheelchair. Hiking El’s Trail, while using the interpretive brochures provided, serves as a fine introduction to the Long Island Pine Barrens ecosystem.

El’s Trail is marked with blue blazes.  Part of the trail leads into the 130-mile long Paumanok Path.  This section of the trail is marked with half yellow and half blue blazes.  In order to get to the Paumanok Path, follow the yellow access trail until you are facing the north side of Mill Road.  The Path uses a short segment of Mill Road to cross over a marshy stream, then continues on the north side of the road.  To the left, the Paumanok Path heads west towards Robert Cushman Murphy Park.  To the right, the trail continues east to Manorville Hills.
Another wonderful thing about the Trails Center is that it is located very near the Nature Conservancy’s Calverton Ponds Preserve.  This 350-acre assemblage of pine barrens and coastal plain ponds comprises one of the most rare and fragile wetland ecosystems in all of North America.  The Preserve is cooperatively owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy and the Suffolk County Parks Department.  Be sure to check my column next week for more information about this beautiful preserve.  When I first began hiking in the early 90’s, this was the spot that first made me fall in love with Long Island’s natural open space.

Directions: To Visit the Manorville Trails Information Center from the Long Island Expressway, take exit 70, head north on County Road 111 for 200 yards.  You will see the Visitors Center on the right, just after a church.

For more information call: 631-369-0768

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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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