Long Island Trail Lovers Coalition

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Northwest Woods

Barcelona Neck

 

 

Every Wednesday East Hampton Trails Preservation Society leads a mid-week hike.  Last week Gene Makl led a hike of Barcelona Neck.  Two signs mark the entrance off of Route 114.  One sign says “Sag Harbor Golf Course” the other sign indicates that you are entering the “Linda Gronland Memorial Nature Preserve at Barcelona Neck”.  Some maps identify this peninsula that juts out into the harbor east of Sag Harbor as Russell’s Neck.  It was named after the family that farmed the land in the 1700’s.

Less than a mile after making the turn from Route 114 onto Russell’s Neck Road, I passed the golf course clubhouse and turned right into the parking lot.  The clubhouse has rest-room facilities and there are refreshments sold here.  Gene, our hike leader directed the hikers to park further up the dirt road beyond the gravel parking lot.  When all 12 of us gathered, Gene explained that because there were two other events taking place at the preserve / golf course; he had us park in a cleared area off the East Side Road.  There are designated spaces for hunters in the preserve, but none for hikers, I was thankful for Gene’s guidance on where to park. 

While Gene began to describe the hike, his assistant Richard welcomed the non-EHTPS members, passed around the sign-in sheet, and offered Mike Bottini’s hiking and kayaking books and Charles Whalen’s trail maps for sale.  If you wish to purchase these items call Richard at 631-324-1127.

Gene began the hike by leading us north along the East Side Road.  This is the dirt road that is off to the right of the clubhouse.  In the mid 1800’s Sag Harbor was a busy whaling port attracting sailors from around the world. Gene explained that Barcelona Neck owes its name to the sailors’ imaginations, who upon approaching Sag Harbor would remark upon the similarity of this peninsula’s 80-foot-high bluffs to those at the entrance to the harbor in Spain. 

Blue disks marked the trail we followed.  We were walking on a dry roadbed surrounded by wetlands where you could see tupelo growing in the swampland, along with cinnamon fern, red maple, sweet pepper bush, and swamp azalea.  The oak/hickory forest we walked through on the second leg of our journey contrasted this wetland environment.  Through the trees we could see the marsh and waters of Northwest Creek off to our right.

We came upon some cedar posts; here a trail spur to the right takes you to Cuffee’s, Landing.  Standing here we enjoyed the vista of Northwest Creek. Gene related to us that according to Mike Bottini’s trail guide, “The landing is named for Wickham Cuffee, a whaler who was the last member of the Shinnecock and Montaukett tribes who could speak in all the dialects of both tribes.’’ 

We continued along the east side of the peninsula to its northern tip, by Channel Landing.  From here we could see Cedar Point County Park with its light house, Shelter Island’s Mashomack Preserve, the Grace Estate preserve to our right, and North Haven to our extreme left.  Gene pointed out that there are over 4000 acres of preserved land bordering Northwest Harbor.  It was a sunny day and the water looked clean and inviting.  Here the water is pristine because the land surrounding it has been left in its natural state.

We backtracked until we reached Third Crossing Road (marked by several wide vertical posts) the most northerly of three trails cutting across the peninsula.  We took a right turn that brought us to the north edge of the neck.  We walked over a dune that is moving south and covering the trail. From the top of this dune, views of Cedar Point and Mashomack arrested our attention for a while.

When we continued, we headed south along Sag Harbor Bay.  Here Gene had us leave the marked trail and walk along the shoreline from Salt Pond to Marsh Pond Landing, which pointed us straight into “First Crossing Road”.  From there we continued south to our cars.  Gene explained that if we continued along West Side Road we would find ourselves walking through the golf course and risk being hit by golf balls.  I also appreciated his not taking us through the wetland trails on the southern part of this property where chiggers and ticks are found this time of year.

The many lovely water views make Barcelona Neck one of my favorite places to walk year round.

 

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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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