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Back by popular demand .... the East Hampton Trail Maps!

Seal Haulout Trail

The Seal Haulout Trail is a popular trail because it’s easy to follow and it takes you to a lovely destination in a reasonable amount of time. The maritime woods surrounding it are beautiful and filled with wildlife.  The entrance to this trail is on the shoulder of Montauk Highway, past Teddy Roosevelt Park, and the Montauk Point East Overlook (also known as the Oyster Pond Overlook).  It is on the north side of the road, and the shoulder there is wide enough to accommodate parking.  As you enter Montauk though, there is a sign admonishing drivers that it is illegal to park on the shoulder of the Highway as well as a DEC sign by the trail entrance that says “Parking Only With Permit.”  N o sign designates this as a trailhead parking area.  When I want to hike here I continue a short distance to Camp Hero Road, turn right and park by the entrance of the Point Woods Trail.  At the opening of the path is a trail marker that is almost obscured by the lush foliage of the Norway maple to which it is nailed.  There is also a sign a few feet beyond the entrance to the Point Woods Trail that reads “No Parking Service Access Only.”  This means do not park on the road, that would impede access for service personnel entering through a gate to Camp Hero State Park; instead, park on the shoulder of the road. 

In late winter and spring harbor seals frequent the rocky shoreline east of Oyster Pond.  They haul themselves out of the water onto these rocks to sunbathe.  NYS Parks and the trails groups lead seal walks from November through April to an area where you can view these adorable pinnepeds.  These woods are remarkably beautiful during the summer and a paradise for a camera buff after a snowfall.  During summer the cormorants, seagulls, and terns are lovely to look at when they take their turn perching on the rocks.

I last visited the Seal Haulout Trail on an overcast Wednesday and didn’t encounter even one other hiker on the trail.  I wasn’t alone however, and was glad that I had applied insect repellent to discourage the mosquitoes and a hat to keep the deer flies out of my hair.

When I arrived at the viewing area on the bluff, I still had a lot of time and energy, so I set off in a northeasterly direction along the Block Island Sound shoreline walking towards Oyster Pond.  There is a walkway down through the bluffs from the viewing area.  Beach fence is used to keep it selectively accessible to pedestrians, and to keep motor vehicles out.  After a mile walk along a rocky coastline, I came to the opening in the bluffs dividing the Pond from the Sound.  I visited both bodies of water and then started back along the coastline. 

After walking about one half-mile, I saw a cleft in the bluffs that appeared to be an entrance to a horse trail.  I checked my map and saw that I had found where East Oyster Pond Road opens to Block Island Sound.  I suspected that this trail would turn into the Paumanok Path heading east, and if I followed it, it would take me back to where I had parked my car.   The trail becomes a bit marshy, but the tread isn’t badly churned up and the low spots have been built up with wood chips.  After walking a while I reached an intersection of trails.  As is the case with many trail intersections in the Montauk area there were several very helpful arrow signs placed here by NYS Parks.  One of them said “Paumanok Path West.” Since I knew I wanted to follow the Paumanok Path east, I walked in the opposite direction from where the arrow was pointing.  I walked back past the beginning of the Seal Haulout Trail, over Montauk Highway, and back along the Point Woods Trail to my car.


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Ken Kindler
Open Space & Trails Advocate

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