Long Island Trail Lovers Coalition

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North Sea / Southampton Village

Big Woods

 

 

Big Woods is an 87-acre tract of mature forest managed by Southampton Town and the Nature Conservancy (TNC).  A sign at the entrance of the TNC parking area describes this wildlife preserve as the Marguerite Crabbe Greef Wildlife Sanctuary in honor of a woman whose family made the TNC purchase possible.  In addition to the forest of oak, beech, and white pine, there are freshwater wetlands and a breathtakingly beautiful view of the Sebonac Creek tidal marshlands. 

Big Woods is adjacent to Southampton Town’s Emma Rose Elliston Memorial Park and across from the Conservancy’s Wolf Swamp Preserve.  Wolf Swamp shares the perimeter of Big Fresh Pond with the Town Park.  An excellent resource for information (and maps) about the two preserves and the Town Park can be found in The Trail Guide to the South Fork by Mike Bottini.

Last Sunday I joined the Southampton Trails Preservation Society (STPS) on a hike that began in Elliston Park, and then continued into the two adjacent Nature Conservancy parcels.  I had expected to see Howard Riesman, a Marine Biology professor for Southampton College there because he has been leading this STPS hike every month for many years.  This month however, Howard was out of town and Dianne Rulnick, the STPS Vice President was there in his place.  Dianne asked me if I knew the hike.  I answered with a qualified affirmative; I know all the trails in the area and can tie them together.  As it turned out, I didn’t have to figure out the route because two of the hikers from East Hampton who regularly walked this hike with Howard, knew the way.  This was a small group of hikers; there were only eight people (two of whom were from New York City and read about the hike in Dan’s Papers).  Small groups are not uncommon for STPS walks; I would guess this is why hiking with the Southampton group is becoming popular with the East Hampton hikers.  Some of the popular East Hampton Trails Preservation hikes attract large numbers of hikers.  If you want to know more about the Southampton trails group call 631-537-5202 or visit their page on the Hiking Long Island website (www.hike-li.org).  If you take the STPS hikes you can become familiar with the trails. This will enable you to go back, at a later date on your own and not get lost.  Also, ask your hike leader about purchasing a copy of Mike’s excellent trail book, which I mentioned above.

Parking at Elliston Park is for Southampton Town residents only.  To get there follow County Road 39, then head north 2 miles on North Sea Road; look for the Emma Rose Elliston Park sign and turn left onto Millstone Brook Road.  Travel 0.3 miles and you will find the park on your left.  If you are not a Southampton resident, travel a little further down Millstone Brook Road to the Scott’s Road intersection.  The triangular island between Millstone Brook Rd. and Scott’s Road is where people normally park to visit TNC’s Wolf Swamp Preserve.  If you look across Millstone Brook Road from this parking area at the apex of the two roads you will see the entrance to Wolf Swamp.  It has a well-marked loop trail.  If you look in the opposite direction, across Scott’s Road you will see the entrance to a Town Trustee Road.  Follow this dirt road and after a short distance you will be greeted by a threatening North Sea Gun Club sign.  Don’t worry though, this sign is meant to address illegal hunting; hikers will be safe if they stay to the trail.  At this sign you can turn left to visit Big Woods or continue straight for a short distance, then turn right (east) to visit the 133-acre Elliston Park.  If you continue straight on the trustee road, it will take you to land managed by the Peconic Land Trust.  You need permission to visit the Land Trust property (283-3195).

If you get back on Millstone Brook Road and travel a little further east you will find the small TNC parking area for Big Woods.  The South Fork Nature Conservancy appreciates when you call before you visit 631-329-7689.

If you are looking for an adventure in nature and you are a moderately experienced hiker, I strongly suggest that you explore these areas along Millstone Brook Road.  The two TNC loops at Big Woods and Wolf Swamp are easy to follow, however the other trails connected to them could be a little challenging for the inexperienced hiker.

 

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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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