Long Island Trail Lovers Coalition

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Montauk

Point Woods / Camp Hero

 

 

My curiosity got the better of me when I saw the Money Pond Loop on a recent East Hampton Trails Preservation Society (EHTPS) hike list.  In the past, large sections of this trail have become overgrown and over-run with ticks by mid-summer.  EHTPS routinely does maintenance on a trail before a scheduled walk, but preparing the Money Pond Loop for hikers this time of year seemed a monumental task.  So when the hike leader, Ed Porco announced to the hikers assembled around him by the Point Woods trailhead that there was a change in plans, I wasn’t surprised.  We began our modified hike from Camp Hero Road.  This road is the last right turn before Montauk Point State Park, 1.4 miles east of Deep Hollow Ranch.  Camp Hero Road runs through Camp Hero, but there is a gate blocking all but horse or hiker a short distance up the road.  There is informal parking on the road shoulder a short distance in by the arrow-shaped Point Woods Trail sign.

We enjoyed the instant transition into deep shade.  Overhead the dense canopy of beech, tupelo, oak, holly, and red maple block the sky from view.  Amazingly large mountain laurel and shadbush arch overhead, and attractive yet sturdy wooden bridges ford the lovely brooks.  A wild mix of bird calls washed over us as we marveled at the size of the American Holly trees.  The white plastic NYS markers led us to the white rectangles of the Paumanok Path (PP).  To our right, across Montauk Highway, lay the Seal Haulout Trail.  The tall grass on the trail approaching the beach can be loaded with ticks, so Ed headed south (left), onto the Point Woods portion of the PP.  We would walk along the western edge of Camp Hero, into a depression that runs through the tip of the Point.  Here protected from the nearby maritime environment, a virtual jungle flourishes. Bypassing a wetland, we continued following the white rectangles of the PP along the recently adopted segment of the Battery 112 Trail.  After passing the second enormous cement structure, be alert for a right turn otherwise you will stay on the Battery 112 Trail that takes you, after a short distance to Camp Hero Road.

We soon turned left onto Old Montauk Highway. This is a wide dirt road adopted by the PP to reach the Point.  After a short distance, there is an intersection with an open cyclone gate to the left, and a narrow paved road to the right.  Turning right we followed this road, bearing left at a fork in the trail, to an open grassy bluff with a view of the cliffs, bluffs, ocean, and sky!  The crenulated cliffs captured our interest.

When we returned to Old Montauk Highway, we crossed over, heading through the cyclone fence onto Col. John Dunn Road, a decomposing asphalt road.  A canopy of maples and oaks arched over us.  We continued onto a better maintained road.  “No Trespassing-Hazardous Area” was painted on the road, now almost indiscernible under a coat of newer white paint.  We followed a road with a yellow line, then a sign saying “Pedestrian Access Only”.  We pass around wooden sawhorse barricades, headed towards benches, a kiosk with free maps, and passed to the left of a flag pole.  We came out onto Camp Hero Road.  After looking at the map that I had picked up at the kiosk, I realized that Ed had taken a shortcut between Col. Dunn and Camp Hero Roads.  We turned left onto Camp Hero Road. We pass a comfort station sign with an arrow; we continue to follow Camp Hero Road. 

Ed led us all the way back on the road.  An alternative route back from here, with less road walking, would be to take the Battery 112 Trail to the Bridal Path.  After the hike, I checked it out.  The Bridal Path had high grass, but I didn’t pick up any ticks.  The Battery 112 Trail intersects Camp Hero Road in two places, so if you are wary of grassy trails, taking the left onto this arc of well maintained trail will cut out some road walking.  If you walk the road back, you have to squeeze through an opening in the gate a short distance before the trailhead.

Thank you, New York State Parks, and East Hampton Trails Preservation Society for the hiker-friendly trails at Camp Hero State Park.
 

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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
Phone:(631) 563-4354

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