Long Island Trail Lovers Coalition

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Montauk

The Big Reed Pond Nature Trails
at Theodore Roosevelt County Park

 

 

The first time I decided to visit the Sound via the Big Reed Nature Trails, I followed the map furnished by Suffolk County Parks.  It was created by Mike Bottini and it has an excellent section that explains the interpretive stations along the blue and green trails.*   In the pamphlet Mike describes the 1,100 acre park located in the northwestern corner of Theodore Roosevelt County Park, as “one of the most botanically rich areas on Long Island, over five hundred species of vascular plants have been documented in the park.”

For this hike, after following the blue loop to the green loop to the brown loop, take the trail off of the brown loop over a bridge, to a trail that skirts the Pond to the east, and then branches south to the beach. The trail to the beach is on Mikes map, but the map ends just before it reaches the bluffs, so you can’t see that it goes to the beach.  Using my compass, I followed several trails headed north towards Shagwong Point, but all of the trails disappeared into the dunes.  The dunes are fragile and walking through them, especially where there is no path, unduly stresses them so I turned back.  Luckily, in addition to the County Parks map, I had also brought along Charles Whalen’s map of Montauk Point. It showed a trail running from the east side of Big Reed Pond, south to an area called “The Songbirds”, located on the bluff overlooking the Sound.  I have become accustomed to using this trail to get to the beach.  Unfortunately, a portion of it was washed away recently by a winter storm, it now dead-ends on a bluff.  I wandered around until I found a route to the beach on a newly built horse trail. It is important to know that people on horses often use the trails adjacent to Big Reed Pond Park.  When you encounter equestrians, it’s a good idea to greet them and then move off the trail and allow them to pass; the horses may get spooked if you move too quickly and do not give a friendly greeting first.

If you are into adventure and willing to take a risk, I recommend that you give this 4-mile walk to Block Island Sound a try.   If you want a more tame experience, I suggest you obtain a map from Suffolk County Parks and walk the three loop trails.  These loop trails are well blazed, the maps are displayed on kiosks throughout the trail system, and easy to follow.  The trails are each marked with a different color: blue; green; and brown.  You must hike the blue loop trail in order to get to the green loop trail. You may hike only the blue trail loop if you wish; it is a complete circle that will bring you right back to the trailhead.  Approximately half way around the blue loop trail, you will see where the green loop trail begins. You can take the green loop back to the blue loop, or if you are looking for a longer hike, you can follow the green loop trail to where it intersects with the brown loop trail.  The blue loop trail is 0.9 miles.  The green loop trail is 0.5 miles.  The brown loop trail is 1.3 miles. If you decide to walk all three loops, it’s important to know that in order to get back to the trailhead, you must follow the brown loop to the green loop trail and the green loop trail back to the blue loop trail.  The blue loop brings you back to the trailhead.

The view from the observation deck, that you reach by taking the bridge from the blue trail, will make you understand why Big Reed Pond is a Registered Natural Landmark.

During autumn the maple swamp with highbush blueberries near the intersections of the blue and green trails is a good place for reds.  The tupelo sumacs and hardwoods will give a great show.  The reflections of the colorful leaves all around the pond would make some great postcards.  The clear burbling brooks, bridges, moss covered, fern lined trails, and boardwalks offer endless opportunities for picture taking.

Directions to the Big Reed Pond Nature Trails: Montauk Highway to East Lake Dr.  Go north on East Lake Dr. for approximately two miles.  The trailhead entrance is on the right.  Follow the dirt road to the parking area.

**Suffolk County Parks Administration Office: (631) 854-4949 or Theodore Roosevelt County Park Office: (631) 852-7878

For more information: http://www.ehtps.org/

East Hampton Trails Preservation Society info@easthamptontrails.org
 

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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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