Long Island Trail Lovers Coalition

preserving, protecting and enhancing
our nature and recreation trails




Serpent’s Back Trail



Last week, I was on my way to the work outing on the Serpent’s Back Trail in Montauk, but was stuck in the Shinnecock bottleneck traffic jam so I was a half hour late.  The Serpent’s Back Trail in Hither Woods, runs parallel to and often in sight of Power Line Road, an abandoned right-of-way.  It runs through some very hilly territory and often runs straight up and down hills.  It is a thrilling adventure both for hikers and mountain bikers, but the fall-line construction makes the trail vulnerable to erosion in many places.

As I approached the working trail crew Mike, the President of CLIMB (Concerned Long Island Mountain Bicyclists) said, “Beware the circle of death.”  “Is that the Shinnecock bottleneck through which I just traveled?” I wondered.  Mike continued, “the circle of death is the zone in which tools are being swung. Be sure to let people know before you enter their circle of death.”  I approached the first work group with care. Tom Dess, Superintendent of Montauk State Parks, and Chris and Kurt Pfund, owners of the Montauk Bike Shop and Cycle Path were digging depressions out alongside the trail.  Tom explained to me that mounds are built across the trail in order to direct the water into the trailside depressions.  These drains will divert rainwater from running straight down the trail and eroding it.  Mike Bottini, naturalist and author, came up the trail with a wheelbarrow filled with tools.  I grabbed a shovel, walked up to a group working further along the trail, said hello to my friend Rudi, a member of Southampton Trails Preservation Society, and started moving dirt.  It will be interesting to visit this trail over time and see how effective the drains we built are in slowing down the erosion of the trail.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the trails near Rod’s Valley. If you walk to the north end of the Serpent’s Back Trail and head east along the Old North Road, this will take you to these trails.  If you want to visit the Serpent’s Back Trail, park at the Hither Hills Overlook parking area, 0.5 mile east of where Montauk Highway and Old Montauk Highway split.  Help yourself to a free map from the kiosk at the east end of the parking lot, and enter the opening near the kiosk with the large trail map on it.  Follow the Parkway Trail a short distance east until you see a left turn onto the Serpent’s Back Tail.  This trail is marked with black diamond blazes nailed to the trees.

This trail work outing is an excellent example of a cooperative effort among different trail users.  Included in the group were representatives from four trails groups, two land management agencies, and included mountain bikers, runners, naturalists, hikers, and a very enthusiastic parks superintendent.  This kind of cooperation is one of the major goals for National Trails Day.  The first Saturday every June is designated as National Trails Day (NTD) in the United States.  This June 3, there will be more than one million hikers, bikers, equestrians, and interested people taking part in thousands of events that are taking place nationwide to celebrate America’s trails.

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Long Island Trail Lovers Coalition

Ken Kindler
Open Space & Trails Advocate
Post Office Box 1466
Sayville NY 11782

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