Long Island Trail Lovers Coalition

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Riverhead

Wildwood Lake via SCC

 

 

Here’s a 5-mile walk from Suffolk County Community College in Riverhead to Wildwood Lake and back.  There are a few tricky turns for and several steep hills to climb.

To get to SCCC from Sunrise Hwy. take exit 61; travel north on CR 51 (Moriches Riverhead Rd.).  Turn right onto Speonk-Riverhead Rd. (marked by a sign for SCCC); after .3 miles turn right into the campus.  Bear left onto the road that circles the campus then take the first right into Parking Field 1.  Continue straight (northwest corner) to the kiosk.  From the Riverhead traffic circle take CR 63 to CR 51 travel south to Speonk-Riverhead Road.  Turn left into the campus. The S66 and 8A bus stop on campus is very close to the kiosk.  The parking lot is open until 11 pm weekdays, 5 pm on Saturdays and closed on Sundays.  If you need to access the trail when the parking lot is closed, park on Speonk-Riverhead Road  .1-miles south of CR 51 on the road shoulder, east side of the road.  This is where the PP crosses Speonk-Riverhead Road.  This is a dangerous road; stay alert if you park here.

You will see the beginning of the PP access trail 30 feet behind and to the right of the kiosk.  The beginning of the trail is growing over in places.  You’ll walk under the road circling the campus.  Swifts nest here in the remains of overhead lamp fixtures.  A chick peeked at me over the rim of its nest.  Follow the yellow blazed trail to the PP.  Soon the yellow blazes are joined by the blue blazes of a loop trail.  When you reach the blue trail, the trail tread is churned up by illegal dirt bike use.  Follow the blazes, not the dirt bike tracks because in several places they diverge from the trail.  Note the triple yellow blaze indicating the end of the access trail when you reach the white rectangular blazes of the PP.  If you turn right you will travel in an easterly direction, through the Sarnoff State Preserve.

Soon the trail was almost closed for a short distance by dense scrub oak adjacent to a wetland area.  I saw a hognose snake here several years ago.  A catbird perched on a branch a few inches from my face and scolded me for some unknown reason.  I crossed over Speonk-Riverhead Road.  The trail leads straight up an embankment.  The dirt bikes have created two trails, and erosion problems, in some places by cutting across the turns in the trail, but the trail is still walkable..

Half the leaves on the oaks and blueberries are missing with bodies of dead gypsy moths littering the trails.  The remaining leaves dapple the sunlight.  Shade is provided where the pitch pine is dense.  After 1.5 miles, cross over a lightly used dirt road; then cross over the power line right-of-way. The LIPA ROW is filled with ATV tracks and obviously a means of access for the illegal motorized use of the PP.  100 yards after crossing over the ROW there is a Hiking Only sign on a post and rail fence across the path.  The person who built this barricade against illegal use created steps on either side of the fence to enable hikers to step over it. The trail tread is much more comfortable to walk here.    This offers an excellent contrast of the walking experience between a trail damaged by motorized vehicles and a trail that is not. 

The next portion of trail is characterized by some very steep rolling hills, however the vistas you might expect are blocked by dense pitch pine growth.  On the steepest inclines, logs are set across the trail as check dams.  This has controlled the erosion of the trail for many years, but the logs are deteriorating and should be replaced.

I crossed over another woods road (where I noticed the trail was virtually free from ATV impact ) then around another post and rail fence and crossed over the golf club road.  100 yards after crossing another woods road there is a right turn in the PP that continues into the Sarnoff Preserve; continue straight following an unmarked trail and you’ll see the water through the trees to your left.  I reached a ripped up woods road and turned left.  After 200 feet I arrived at a clearing by the lake where there was highbush blueberry, sweet pepperbush, damselflies, dragonflies, and a variety of butterflies.  Baby raptors were calling out eagerly for food. I saw something skitter across the marsh in the near distance and felt the bladderworts sway as I waded past them in the lake.
 

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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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