Long Island Trail Lovers Coalition

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Flanders

Sears-Bellows County Park

 

 

In preparation for a hike, hike leaders walk the route they plan to take for several reasons: to be certain they remember it, to be sure they are totally satisfied with it, and to see that it is passable.  Last Friday I accompanied Tony and Ken, two STPS hike leaders, while they reconnoitered in Sears-Bellows Park.

Tony and Ken met on Red Creek Road in Hampton Bays, 100 yards east of Route 24.  Tony left his car parked on the shoulder of Red Creek Road and Ken drove them to the Sears-Bellows Parking lot where I was waiting.  To get to the Sears-Bellows parking lot from the east, take exit 65 north from Sunrise Highway.  Follow Route 24 (Flanders Road) to Bellows Pond Road where you turn left.  Follow this road 0.6 miles and you will see the entrance to the park on your right.  Drive through the gates past the park headquarters towards Bellows Pond to get to the parking area.  From Route 495 take exit 71, turn right, (south) towards Riverhead approximately 4 miles to the traffic circle.  Then follow Route 24 another 6 miles, turn right onto Bellows Pond Road.  Follow Bellows Pond Road a half mile to the park entrance on the right.  Follow the gravel road a short distance to the parking area.  In season, you need a County Park Green Key to park in the lot by Bellows Pond. This parking lot by the southern shore of Bellows Pond is open to the public from 8A.M. until 4P.M. during the winter months.  Be courteous to the park employees and leave by 4P.M. so they can close the gates and go home.

We started our walk on the “one-way” blue blazed loop trail that starts to the left of the parking area and runs west along the southern edge of Bellows Pond.  Beware; this loop is blazed in only one direction.  If you want to use this trail to return from the Paumanok Path or the Flanders Black Owl Loop, you may find yourself walking on an apparently unmarked trail.  We headed northwest crossing over three horse trails that look like gullies crossing the path.  The trail here is in excellent condition and offers a level, pine needle cushioned walk.  Soon we saw Division Pond on our right and then arrived at the Paumanok Path.  If we were to turn right we would be following the Paumanok Path north for a short distance (before heading east again) down a woods road, across Route 24 and into Hubbards Creek. Instead we decided to continue straight across the woods road, around some post and rail fencing erected to keep vehicles off the trail, and then headed west along the Paumanok Path.  Several trails share this route.  You will see blue rectangles marking the blue loop trail, black on white plastic owl blazes, marking the Flanders Loop, and the white rectangles of the Paumanok Path.  For a distance we found ourselves walking along a high ridge on the Ronkonkoma Moraine.  The trail gradually descended and we approached a “Sears Pond” sign with an arrow pointing to the right.  We left the blue loop and headed left, following the black owl and white blazes.  As we walked along the southern shore of Sears Pond we walked on an unstable, makeshift boardwalk.  Since writing this the trail was moved onto higher ground.  As the trail climbed to higher ground we were afforded a better view of the pond.  Here I took some pictures of Ken and Tony with the pond as a background.  After passing Sears Pond the trail splits; the Paumanok Path continues west towards Maple Swamp and the Flanders Loop heads north over Route 24 and Red Creek Road, towards Hubbard Creek.  If you follow the Flanders Black Owl Loop, it takes you past the Black Duck Lodge along some beautiful wetlands, back across Route 24 to the blue loop.  You can then follow the blue loop around the other side of Bellows Pond to the Sears-Bellows parking lot for a hike of approximately 6.5 miles.

With the wide selection of trails to choose from here, you may want to buy some maps of the area and create your own hikes. 
 

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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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