Long Island Trail Lovers Coalition

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Montauk

Camp Hero

 

 

Time travel, aliens, and mind control were not what I had in mind when I met the East Hampton Trail group for the Camp Hero walk.  After all, the description of the hike was: “Natural beauty combined with man-made structures of historical interest makes this a unique hiking experience.”

We started our hike at Camp Hero Road in Montauk.  This is the last public road off of Route 27 before you reach the Montauk Lighthouse, 1.5 miles east of Theodore Roosevelt County Park and a short distance past the Oyster Pond overlook.  The Trail entrance is on the west side of the road, 100 yards south of the intersection with Montauk Highway.  After walking a couple of hundred yards on an access trail, the hiking group turned left onto the Paumanok Path.  This portion of the Paumanok Path is known as the Point Woods Trail.  In my opinion, this is easily the most beautiful trail on Long Island.  We crossed over a small brook on a wooden footbridge and continued east on the Path.

This maritime forest is unique because it is protected by a natural depression and has seen little recent disturbance from people.  The depression and the high bluffs that face the Atlantic Ocean protect the trees and shrubs from being stunted by the salt laden winds blowing off the ocean and bay.  I don’t think there is another place on the Island that has such mature laurel and holly, and there are few places where you can find such large specimens of black tupelo, beech, shadbush, and red maple. 

This was a sunny day, but because of the dense tree canopy above, the group of hikers was walking in a shadowy rainforest-like environment.  Fern, spicebush, and bayberry surrounded us as we threaded our way though freshwater wetlands.  In many places the trail tread is made bumpy with aggressive beech tree roots, while in other places it is a soft carpet of leaf litter.   The exceptional quality of the trail itself is largely due to the initial planning of a well known naturalist, Mike Bottini.  This trail hugs the contours of the land and takes the hiker gently up the slopes.  Not only does this type of trail make for a comfortable walk, it also causes the least impact on the environment. Mike describes the Point Woods Trail as well as other east-end trails in his book Trail Guide to the South Fork

Shortly after walking through a field of boulders, we came upon some red markers on the trees indicating the way to the Battery 112 Trail.  We turned left (north) onto what appeared to be a woods road being reclaimed by the woods, and then we turned right (east) onto the 112 Trail itself.  When we reached Battery 112, we all stood before the bunker, now sealed off with a cement wall.  Then our hike leader, Steve Tamber began to read an article about a group of hikers that disappeared after walking through Camp Hero on All Hollows Eve.  Steve spoke of mind control and aliens.  The hiking group was enthralled.  As he finished reading, the audience realized that Steve was jesting.  This resulted in a lighthearted mood among us for the rest of the hike.

Steve led us along the Battery 112 Trail to Camp Hero Road, and then onward to the Col. Daniel Wolf Road.  Here we stopped to use the rest stations.  We continued on Camp Hero Road and then headed south on the Col. John Dunn Road to Old Montauk Highway.  If instead of visiting Bunker 112 we had continued on the Paumanok Path, we would have found ourselves here as well.  This is significant, because if you continue a short distance east there is a paved road running south to the Atlantic bluffs with their beautifully carved faces and a dramatic view of the Ocean.  We then walked back from the bluffs, along the Paumanok Path to the Point Woods Trail and arrived at Camp Hero Road where we had parked our cars.

If you wish to enter the Camp Hero Main Entrance, you have to pay an admission fee, but in return for the fee you will receive an excellent map and you can drive your car around much of the facility.  The road heading south from this point takes you to a parking area located further east along the Paumanok Path than where we entered it on the hike.  You will find the main entrance by passing the Lighthouse and looking for a fork on the left side of road, leading south.

 

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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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