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Montauk

Access Paumanok Path; East End

 

 

You can access the Paumanok Path (PP) from the Montauk Public Library parking lot on the east side of town. Look for the library sign on the north side of the road. Park at the northern end of the parking lot.  A short trail beginning at the north edge of the lot leads to the Paumanok Path, where you turn right (east). Largely, this section of trail is a tunnel that is cut through shad, pepperbush, bayberry, black cherry, and vines, often running through carpets of New York fern. This is a very densely wooded area and from recent rains, there are some places where the trail is occasionally submerged in water, even with all the bridges and boardwalks built by East Hampton Trails Preservation Society.  During the winter, the short sections of submerged trail east of South Fox Street and east of West Lake Drive freeze. During the summer they may dry out, otherwise you will have to walk along the highway in these parts of the PP.  East of South Fox Street, a short distance up from the highway, there is room for a couple of cars to park on the shoulder of the road.  The 100-acre Shadmoor State Preserve is just opposite South Fox Street.  The preserve has well-blazed trails and an excellent parking lot. 

Two miles east of Shadmoor, one half mile beyond East Lake Drive, on the north side of Montauk Highway, look for the Theodore Roosevelt County Park sign. Follow the driveway up to the parking area alongside Third House Museum.  The museum is presently closed to the public for renovations.  On the way up the driveway, note the restrooms to the left (they are closed during the winter).  After parking, continue up the driveway to a fence and a gate.  Look for the white rectangular blazes on the fence posts leading from behind the log cottages, to the gate at the end of the driveway.  Follow the blazes through the gate.  If you find the gate closed please close it behind you.  From here, the PP takes you to a panoramic view of Lake Montauk, and later (from “Cornergate”) to a spectacular view of Oyster Pond, Block Island Sound, and the Connecticut coastline.  Soon the trail leads to Ogden’s Brook Bridge, onward across Montauk Highway and into Point Woods.

You can access the PP 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.  The trail entrance is on the west side of Camp Hero Road, 100 yards south of where it intersects with Montauk Highway.  After walking a couple of hundred yards on an access trail, turn left onto the Paumanok Path.  This portion of the PP is known as the Point Woods Trail. Cross over a small brook on a wooden footbridge and continue east on the PP. This maritime forest is protected by a natural depression and has seen little recent human disturbance.  The depression and the high bluffs that face the Atlantic Ocean protect the tree and shrub growth 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 with such mature laurel and holly, and few other places to see large specimens of black tupelo, beech, shadbush, and red maple such as these.

The dense tree canopy above, the freshwater wetland, and in summer, fern, spicebush, and bayberry create a shadowy rainforest-like environment.  During the winter, the dark green laurel and holly make the woods a cheerful place.  In many areas, the trail tread is bumpy from aggressive beech tree roots, while in other places it is a soft carpet of leaf litter.   The exceptional quality of the trail is largely due to the initial planning of a well-known naturalist, Mike Bottini.  This trail hugs the contours of the land and leads the hiker gently up the slopes.  Not only does this type of trail provide a comfortable walk, it also has 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, you will come upon a recent re-route that takes the PP out of wetlands, to the Battery 112 Trail.    Turn left (north) onto what appears to be a woods road being reclaimed by nature, then turn right (east) onto the 112 Trail itself.  The Paumanok Path leads you to a WWII bunker, now sealed off with a cement wall. 

The hike from here is along the bluffs with their spectacular water views as you walk along the Old Montauk Highway towards the Lighthouse at the Point.
 

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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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