Long Island Trail Lovers Coalition

preserving, protecting and enhancing
our nature and recreation trails




Hither Woods Waterfence Hike



I looked at my calendar and realized Saturday was free.  First thing I did was look at the Hiking Long Island website www.hike-li.org to check out the trails groups’ events.

East Hampton Trails had the Waterfence hike at 9 A.M.  This vigorous 5-mile hike, a favorite of the hike leader, Ed Porco, takes the Serpent’s Back Trail, then along the shore of Napeague Bay to the Waterfence overlook.  We were instructed to meet at the Hither Woods Overlook Parking lot off Rt. 27, about 1 mile east of the Old Montauk Highway fork, in Montauk. 

I arrived at the Overlook and picked up a free map of Hither Woods from the kiosk; unfortunately this kiosk is hidden on the east end of the parking lot.  All the hikers and other visitors were gravitating to the western end of the parking lot, where there are some newer interpretive kiosks and beyond them is a breathtakingly beautiful view of Napeague Harbor.

Ed led us into the woods where a sign pointed to the Serpents Back Trail.  In actuality this is the Parkway Trail, that runs parallel to Montauk Highway.  We followed this trail for a short distance and turned right onto the Serpents Back Trail, which we followed north to the railroad tracks.  If you bear to the right just before the tracks you will find a short segment of the Old North Road that takes you directly across the tracks.  If instead, you use the churned up sandy trail to go straight across the tracks you will have to turn right (east) and walk along the tracks for a short distance before you find the North Road on your left.  This railroad crossing could be made safer by blazing the Old North Road here.  Ed continued along the Old North Road until we found the Paumanok Path.  This trail is marked by painted white rectangular blazes.  We turned left to head west along the Path.  There are long stretches of trail in this area that run along sparsely wooded bluffs, so there are few white rectangle blazes here. 

From the Waterfence Overlook you can see Goff Point to the west, a promontory that defines the eastern shore of Napeague Harbor, further out you can see Gardeners Island, and to the east is Block Island.  Originally the name “waterfence” referred to a split rail fence constructed 300 years ago, between the bay and the ocean.  Its function was to keep the livestock from wandering.  The type of waterfence we see on this hike is a fish trap that runs perpendicular to the shore.  When the fish encounter the fence they run along it into the deeper water where they are funneled into a net trap, and thus harvested.

We followed Fresh Pond Landing Road out to the shore of Napeague Bay.  The water looked so inviting that I told Ed our hike leader that I would be separating from the group and staying by the water. I also told Steve Tamber the President of EHTPS who had volunteered to keep the group together by being the last person in line, or “the sweep”.  There were about 25 people on this hike. I recognized several members who regularly led hikes.  The hike leader and sweep were in communication with two-way radios; no one was getting lost on this hike. I think Ed returned by way of Fresh Pond Landing Road to Old North Road, to Ocean View Trail, to the Serpents Back Trail.  On the way back I met two lost hikers.  I got them back to the parking lot and showed them where to get maps at that hidden kiosk.


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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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