Long Island Trail Lovers Coalition

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Fire Island

Sunken Forest Nature Trail at Sailor’s Haven on Fire Island

 

 

A great hike for me is walking a 25-mile segment of the Paumanok Path with another trails enthusiast and my digital camera.  A perfect hike is when I get to swim some place along they way, get some good pictures and have hiking companions who help me discover something I’ve missed on my other walks along the “Great Path”.  After working with the trails groups for a number of years, I have discerned that the perfect hike for the average Long Islander is something quite different.  Short hikes that end up back where they started at a predictable time are what most of the hikers seem to be looking for.

An excellent example of this kind of perfect hike would be the Sunken Forest Nature Trail at Sailor’s Haven on Fire Island.  Heading out east on a Saturday morning stuck in traffic you may wind up watching your morning turn into Saturday afternoon; don’t despair if you realize that you’re not going to be anywhere in the Hamptons anytime soon. Here’s a great outing you might like to try that’s not quite so far east. It includes a ferry trip, an easy interpretive walk, a picnic, and an optional swim.  Bring food to eat at the beach or along the mile-long boardwalk trail with its many shaded sitting areas. 

The boardwalk affords physically challenged people access to this spectacular Maritime Forest and it keeps all of us safely removed from the wetlands and the chiggers.  Speaking of which, I walked my usual 100 miles of trail this week, including a 9-mile hike through Hither Woods, a work outing with the Southampton Trails trail crew in Laurel Valley, a fun romp through Morton Wildlife Preserve, and discovered a beautiful Nature Conservancy preserve.  I didn’t pick up a single tick or chigger.  I thought it was great that there is a sign by the Navy Road kiosk warning people to stay on the trails to avoid picking up chiggers.  Excellent advice!

This National Parks facility is a “carry in-carry out” trash reduction area.  There are no trashcans.  This helps protect wildlife and saves money that can be applied to other park services.  When you get off the ferry, the Visitors’ Center is the first thing you see.  Inside the Visitors’ Center are several interpretive displays, brochures, and informative pamphlets, as well as a map of the Sunken Forest Trail. Two rangers, Max and Anthony, greeted me and very enthusiastically answered my long list of questions.  To call Sailor’s Haven Visitors’ Center and receive a courteous and helpful response dial: 631-597-6183.  To your left is the snack bar and gift shop.  If you walk straight south on the boardwalk there are the restrooms and the universal access to the lifeguard protected beach.

To the right of the Visitors’ Center is the beginning of the interpretive trail.  There are numbers on the boardwalk that correspond to numbers on the map. This map briefly describes the areas of interest.  Follow the trail to an area in the middle of the American Holly Maritime Forest to a place with benches where you can rest.  From here you can turn left (south) and ultimately take the stairs to visit the Ocean.  At this point, you have two options.  The first is to go back up the stairs, turn left (west) follow a boardwalk loop that gives you a view of the Great South Bay before heading back to the ferry dock along the trail you walked earlier.   The second option is to turn left (east), take a 15 minute walk along the shoreline to where the lifeguards and the universal access are, then take a swim before returning to the ferry dock via the boardwalk.

To get to the Sayville Ferry from the west, you can take Southern State Parkway to Heckscher State Parkway Exit 44 East Sunrise Highway.  Take Sunrise Highway 4.5 miles to Exit 49, Lakeland Ave (south).  Turn left at the second traffic light onto Main Street where you take the right fork (South Main Street) and then turn right onto Foster Ave.  Follow Foster to the end and make a right turn onto Browns River Road.  Turn left onto River Road where you will find pay parking (between $5 and $9) and the ferries ($10 round trip) to Cherry Grove, The Pines, and Sailor’s Haven.  For more information on the Ferries: www.sayvilleferry.com or 631-589-8980.  For information on taxi service from the Sayville Train Station call Colonial Taxi: 589-7878.
 

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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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