Long Island Trail Lovers Coalition

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North Sea / Southampton Village

Wolf Swamp / Elliston Park

 

 

The day after Thanksgiving my wife, sister, and stepson all wanted to take a “walk it off hike.”  I suggested that we join a trails group hike, but moving slowly and recovering from “turkey trance” we took a later hike on our own.  My sister suggested someplace picturesque with wetlands, so I decided on Wolf Swamp.

Directions: Head north on Magee Street, cross over Sebonac Road; continue until you reach a five corner intersection; turn right onto Millstone Brook Road. After a short distance, you’ll see a small parking area (on the left) for the Nature Conservancy Greef Wildlife Sanctuary at Big Woods.  This area gives access to the Paumanok Path. A short distance past this area is a much used informal parking triangle. It is an unimproved dirt parking area located where Millstone Brook Road and Scott Road converge.  We crossed Millstone Brook Road towards a post and rail fence and a couple of signs: one that says “Wolf Swamp Preserve, The Nature Conservancy”, and another that welcomes people to the preserve, lists the prohibited activities, gives contact information, (phone 631-329-7689), and states the Nature Conservancy’s mission, which is “to preserve plants and animals by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive.”

We followed the loop trail to the right, through the 20-acre preserve, marked by yellow and green blazes.  As we reached the crest of a small hill, Big Fresh Pond came into view through the bare branches of hickory, beech, and oak trees.  We followed a boardwalk over some wetlands and passed some steps to shore.  We began heading back on the western segment of the Wolf Swamp loop but soon took an unmarked trail off to our right that led us across the boat ramp access road into the Paumanok Path and the 133-acre Elliston Town Park.  The white rectangular blazes of the path are new and easy to follow.  We followed the blazes across a terraced area by the Town beach and the granite memorial to Emma Rose Elliston and back into the woods.  Here the Paumanok Path shares the same route as the Big Fresh Pond Nature Trail; along with the white rectangular blazes you will see an occasional yellow diamond blaze or owl blaze.  The trail travels through an upland oak hickory forest and enters into a swamp with red maple and tupelo.  We then followed a footbridge that crosses a stream running from Big Fresh Pond.  During spring this is a good vantage point to see alewife swimming upstream from North Sea Harbor into the pond to spawn.  From here the trail brought us along the edge of the pond.  During the warm months I enjoy seeing box turtles here.  The trail then turned north away from the pond; we found ourselves approaching a farm where a deer fence blocks the Paumanok Path.  We left the blocked trail, and followed the yellow diamond blazes of the nature trail instead.  We passed through a grove of spruce; the seedlings in the understory are deep green and the lower branches of the mature trees are bare; green reemerges only at their tops.  We entered a grove of red maple and walked on planks to cross the wetlands.  We soon came out by the (locked) restrooms, headed back towards the terraced beach and turned right to head back along a segment of the Paumanok Path we had walked earlier.  We followed this segment of path a short distance to the boat ramp access road.  Here we turned right and followed the white blazes up the access road through a chain-link gate and crossed Millstone Brook Road.  We entered an area of steep knobs and deep kettles with lovely vernal ponds and winter views north to Sebonac Creek and Scallop Pond.  After we followed the trail across Scott Road we enjoyed views of Sebonac Creek at the crest of every knob; the trees here are shad and beech.

When we reached a jag in the trail that took us to the edge of the Creek, the sun was setting and the light over the creek was beautiful.  We continued along the trail, entering a beech wood.  The next left turn blaze led us onto a dirt road.  Instead of turning right to follow the Paumanok Path to the Nature Conservancy parking lot and Big Woods trail, we continued to walk the dirt road.  We soon found ourselves facing across Scott Road, looking at our car on the “parking triangle”.

 

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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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