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Northwest Woods

Hedges Banks

 

 

The hike from the Schoolhouse Plaque and Van Scoy Cemetery to the scenic overlooks of Hedges Banks in Cedar Point County Park is an excellent winter hike. Beginners will enjoy it because it is very well marked.  The recently renewed white rectangular blazes of the Paumanok Path and the yellow blazes of the Northwest Path are easy to follow.  The Schoolhouse Plaque may not be that obvious, however the wide dirt shoulder parking area is easy to find.  This hike has many visually exciting features, including glacial erratics, kettleholes, ponds, wetlands, and a stunningly beautiful view out over Gardiners Bay.

Last Saturday I arrived early for the “Grace Estate to Cedar Point Hike” (4-5 miles).  The hike was led by Steve and Laurie Tamber, President and Secretary of the East Hampton Trails Preservation Society (EHTPS).  Steve led the hike and Laurie acted as the “sweep.”  While waiting for the other hikers to arrive, I walked a short distance up from the road to visit the old Van Scoy Cemetery, with its weather worn gravestones.  I returned in time to follow the group as they crossed Northwest Road.  Be careful when crossing; though this is a popular point from which to hike, there are no signs warning drivers to slow down for hikers who are following the Paumanok Path across this curved road.

Rick Whalen designed the Northwest Path in the late 1980’s.  It runs approximately 6 miles from Route 114 and Edwards Hole Road (near Sag Harbor), to Cedar Point Park.  On this day we were following the section of trail that would take us to Cedar Point County Park.  At the start of the hike, in the northern section of the Grace Estate, we followed both the white rectangle blazes of the Paumanok Path and the yellow triangle blazes of the Northwest Path.  Our walk began on Scoy’s Pond Road, an unimproved woods road that gives hunters with vehicles access to Scoy Pond and the surrounding woods.  A short trail to the right allows for a closer look at the pond.  After passing the Scoy Pond turnoff, the next right turn leads onto the portion of the Northwest Path that diverges from the Paumanok Path, north to Cedar Point. Now we followed only yellow blazes.  We walked around the north end of Scoy’s Pond and crossed a small wooden bridge over Scoy Run.  Scoy Run is a brook that runs from Scoy’s Pond into Alewive Brook Pond.  We soon found ourselves walking on the Colonial Old Alewive Brook Road.  At the place where this road connects with the newer, paved Alewive Brook Road is where EHTPS recently redirected the trail across the road (through a new gate that the County Parks Department constructed in the fence) and around the southern end of Alewive Pond.  We soon crossed over Cedar Point Road and passed the Park Office to our right.  Here we continued to follow the yellow blazes onto a nature trail marked with numbered interpretive signs.  Unfortunately, there are no interpretive guidebooks, and the interpretive text does not appear on the County Parks website. However, this information can be found in Mike Bottini’s trail guidebook*.   Here the relatively new nature trail runs straight up a steep hill and is eroding rapidly.  This offered a stark contrast to the still stable 300-year-old colonial road on which we had walked earlier in the hike.

About a mile north of the Park Office, the nature trail intersects another trail. Here you take a right turn and walk a short distance out to the Hedges Banks overlook.  Bring your binoculars with you; this overlook offers a spectacular view.  On the horizon you will see the hills of Connecticut, and from left to right, look for Shelter Island, Orient Point, Plum Island, and Gardiners Island.

From here we could have headed west on the Hedges Banks Trail to Cedar Pond and the Lighthouse.  If you decide to do this, be aware that the sandy spit to the lighthouse is a favorite spot for waterfowl hunting during the fall and early winter.

* For added enjoyment of this trail I suggest you purchase Mike Bottini’s trail guidebook and the map by Charles Whalen (contact Richard Lupoletti, 324-1127).  

Directions: Traveling east on Montauk Highway, just past Wainscott, turn left (north) onto Stephen Hands Path.  Follow the Cedar Point Park signs.  Bear left onto Old Northwest Road, then turn right onto Northwest Road.  Park on the dirt parking area located on the right side of the road about 0.3-miles from the intersection with Alewive Brook Road.

 

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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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