Long Island Trail Lovers Coalition

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Napeague

Napeague Beach Loop

 

 

Heading east on Montauk Highway into Napeague, pass the Clam Bar and Napeague Meadow Road.  Turn left when you see the Sea Crest Condominiums on the right side of the highway and the Hither Hills Racquet Club on the left, Follow Napeague Harbor Road north from Route 27, across the train tracks. Park near the end of the road on the shoulder.  Do not block the off-road vehicle access to the beach.

At the end of Napeague Harbor Road is the Hither Hills State Park Walking Dunes Trail.  Enter this trail at the end of the road (a little to the right). There are elevations of 80 feet offering splendid views.  At one point along this .75-mile loop-trail there is a great view of Napeague Harbor from atop a ridge of a walking dune. At another point, there is a freshwater wetland.  Follow the arrows and look for the trail markers.  Try to stay on the trail; this area is a natural wonder and deceptively fragile.  You may wish to call State Parks for a trail guide (631) 669-1000.

Last weekend when my wife and I arrived at the end of Napeague Harbor Road, I wanted to hike and swim but she wanted to get caught up on her reading.  We set up the umbrella on the widest section of beach, against the dunes out of the way of the “off-road vehicle highway.”

I slathered insect repellent on myself, left some with my wife and went off on a hike.  I walked back along the beach, continued south along the road about 0.4-mile (ten minutes).  There is a driveway-like opening on the west side of the road, a white-rectangular trail blaze, and a Paumanok Path emblem on a utility pole on the left (east) side of the road.  This is where the Paumanok Path (PP) crosses Napeague Harbor Road.  There is informal parking on the shoulder of the road.  I walked east on the Stephen Talkhouse section of the PP to Fresh Pond and Napeague Bay. The trail gradually rises onto a ridge.  From the road, it is a 10-minute walk to Nominick’s Overlook, where there is a panoramic view of the Atlantic shoreline.  A spur trail branching off the PP to the right takes you there.  The trail is well maintained and easy-to-follow.  There are a few areas where the trail is wearing badly; overall, it is still stable and pleasant to walk.  I met some people on the trail who were totally disoriented.  They came from the Hither Hills Overlook parking area and hadn’t realized that there were free maps and a large kiosk near the east end of the parking lot.  This isn’t surprising since your eyes are drawn to the dazzling view attainable from the lot’s west end.    The Overlook is on the north side of Route 27, about one mile east of where Montauk Parkway and Old Montauk Highway split.  It is a large paved lot with several excellent informational kiosks.

After visiting Nominick’s, I re-traced my steps back to the PP and soon followed the trail into a depression behind the oldest of the walking dunes.  The fowler toads, sweet pepper bush, and swamp maple all lead me to believe there are wetlands just out of sight of the trail.  The hickory, maple, and oak trees form a dense canopy allowing only dappled sunlight to reach the sparse understory.  The trail is wide and brush free, so I didn’t pick up any ticks.  The trail gains elevation and the canopy becomes predominantly oak and hickory.  At a trail crossing just before reaching the train tracks, the PP turns left to run parallel to the train tracks and then approaches the eastern edge of Fresh Pond.  After leaving the pond, the PP cuts across a wide woods road giving access to the edge of Fresh Pond.  The trail that runs closest to the pond is not the PP but it meets back up with the PP north of the pond.

A one hour brisk walk from Nominick’s brings you to Fresh Pond Landing Road, a wide, dirt road.  Turn left and a short walk will take you to the Napeague Bay shoreline.  I wasn’t sure where the “Swimming Prohibited” sign applied, so I turned left and headed along the shore towards Goff Point.  After about an hour, at a bend in the spit of land, there is a shortcut through to the harbor.  I turned left and headed south about a mile to where I had left my wife on the beach.  Walking along the shore I heard the sea birds calling and water lapping, and felt the fine sand pulling at my feet.

 

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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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