Hiking Long Island

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Directions: From the Main Street monument and traffic light on Rte 27 in Bridgehampton, follow the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike north to Mashashimuet Park, which is just south of Sag Harbor. The Long  Pond Greenbelt is accessible from Mashashimuet Town Park.  It is easy to find the old RR bed from the Mahashimuet parking lot.  Park your car right in front of the playground, head south past the tennis courts between the athletic field and the Bridgehampton Sag Harbor Turnpike.  From the parking lot it is a ¾ mile walk along an old railroad bed to the Sprig Tree Path, which will take you to Long Pond.  Continue south on Sprig Tree Path to visit a beautiful secluded place between Deer Drink and Crooked Pond or you can head directly south on the Crooked Pond Trail. During a brisk 2 - 2 1/2 hour hike, you can circle both ponds and also see a stone memorial at pond's edge that was dedicated to Truman Capote by his partner. The return leg of the hike passes a third pond called Little Long Pond. There is a boat ramp off of Widow Gavitts Road where you can launch a kayak or canoe onto Long Pond.

Kayakers and local hikers love the seclusion and beauty found here. There are other ways to enter the Long Pond Greenbelt; the Paumanok Path intersects it from the west near the top of  Long Pond, traveling south along the Sprig Tree Path then between Deer Drink and Long Pond, then onward towards Sagg Road and the Northwest Path.  For an excellent map of this trail system showing several other trailheads and Poxabogue Park, contact Southampton Trails Preservation Society. The Trails Society often leads hikes in the Greenbelt; they are open to everyone.  Their hikes are listed in the "Hiking Events" section of this website, or just click on “Southampton Trails Preservation Society” or for more information call . 


The Long Pond Greenbelt encompasses a magnificent 1,100-acre expanse of interconnected ponds, woods, and wetlands that stretches nine miles from Ligonee Brook and Otter Pond in Sag Harbor south to Sagg Pond and the Atlantic Ocean shore in Sagaponack.   Spectacular for its wealth of rare plants, animals, and ecological communities, the Greenbelt is widely recognized as one of the most ecologically significant areas in all of New York State.

A splendid feature of the Greenbelt is its magnificent collection of coastal plain pond and pondshore communities, 13 of which occur in this system.  Both statewide and globally, these environments are considered very rare and vulnerable to extinction.  They also harbor the highest concentration of rare plants and animals in New York.  New York Natural Heritage Program has confirmed the presence of more than 30 rare species of plants and animals.


Coastal plain ponds are characterized by nutrient poor, acidic water and a gently sloping shore.  Most coastal plain ponds are not stream-fed, but are directly connected to groundwater.  Pond water levels rise and fall with the water table, reflecting seasonal and annual rainfall patterns.  As a result, unique communities of plants grow along the pond shores.  Periods of both low and high water levels are essential for their survival.

This unique area encompasses a chain of freshwater coastal plain ponds, wetlands, and vernal ponds as well as Sagg Pond (a coastal salt pond), the tidal waters of Otter Pond, and the lower reaches of Ligonee Brook.  The area was created some 21,000 years ago by glacial advance and retreat creating the east-west trending moraines on Long Island (the Harbor Hills and Ronkonkoma Moraines).  The large-scale subsurface ice formation and subsequent collapse due to melting caused ponds to form north of the morainal deposits.  These ponds became south-flowing streams, which eventually eroded the moraine to form the north-south trending channel between Sag Harbor and Sagaponack.  Repeated seasonal meltwater streams created the present remarkable landscape.

Extravagantly rich in plant and animal life, the Greenbelt forms one of the most biologically diverse eco-systems in the Town.  More than 100 different bird species have been found in the area alone, many of which depend directly or indirectly on the wetland complexes found in this corridor.

Efforts to preserve the Long Pond Greenbelt began in earnest in 1969.  The Greenbelt was officially designated as a high priority for preservation in 1985 through the Town’s adoption of the Long Pond Greenbelt Action Plan.  The town’s Comprehensive Plan Update and 1995-96 Open Space and Greenbelt Acquisition Programs have likewise noted this areas significance, and identified it as one of the highest priorities for the Town.  As a result of these initiatives, more than 500 acres have already been preserved.


OAK FOREST         

TREES:  Scarlet oak, white oak, black oak, chestnut oak, American beech, hickories, pitch pine, American dogwood, and Sassafras.

SHRUBS:  low bush blueberry, black huckleberry, mountain laurel, bayberry, and scrub oak.


TREES:  Red Maple and Black Tupelo

SHRUBS:  Sweet pepperbush, swamp azalea, arrow-wood, and high bush blueberry.

FERNS:  cinnamon, royal, and marsh.

REPRESENTATIVE HERBACEOUS PLANTS:  Canada mayflower, mad-dog skullcap,

Arrow-leafed tearthumb.

RARE PLANTS:  Some 38 rare plants occur within several zones along the pond margins, including insectivorous species such as sundews and hiddenfruit horned and purple bladderworts.  Other rarities include white boneset, short-beaked baldrush, rosy coreopsis, reticulated nutrush, drowned horned rush, silvery aster and creeping St. John’s wort.

OTHER VEGETATION:  Trailing arbutus, bearberry, dwarf blueberry, little bluestem, catfoot, cattail, chokecherry, clubmoss, slender crabgrass, dangleberry, golden dock, fanwort, southern yellow flax, pine barren gerardia, goldenpert, umbrella grass, reed grass, yellow-eyed grass, inkberry holly, water horehound, golden hedge hyssop, Indian pipe, lady slipper, sheep laurel, leatherleaf, lespedeza, fragrant pond lily, ludwigia, wild blue lupine, Virginia meadow beauty, mermaid weed, white milkweed, sphagnum moss, crested fringed orchis, orange fringed orchis, pigmyweed, pipewort, Carolina redroot, rush (beak, horned, long-beaked bald, swaying), spike and true rushes, St. Johns wort (Canadian), sedge, staggerbush, bird’s foot violet, wintergreen, and spotted wintergreen.



White-tailed deer, red fox, raccoon, opossum, eastern gray squirrel, eastern chipmunk, eastern cottontail, long-tailed weasel, Norway rat, white-footed mouse, pine and meadow vole, short-tailed and masked shrew, eastern mole, muskrat, mink, several bat species, and possibly river otter.


The woods, fields, wetlands and surface waters of the Long Pond Greenbelt provide nesting, foraging, and resting habitat for a rich diversity of avian life.  In fact, more than 125 species of birds regularly use the Greenbelt for all or part of the year.  Some of the birds you may encounter are:

PERMANENT RESIDENTS:  Red-tailed hawk, great horned owl and eastern screech owls, 

Four woodpecker species (red-bellied, downy, hairy, northern flicker), blue jay, American crow, tufted titmouse, black-capped chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, northern mockingbird, song sparrow, American goldfinch.

NON-PERMANENT RESIDENTS:  Wood duck, Eastern kingbird, great crested flycatcher, eastern wood-pewee, tree swallow, American robin, gray catbird, brown thrasher, several vireos (red-eyed, white-eyed, yellow-throated, warbling), various warblers (blue-winged, black-and-white, pine, prairie, yellow, ovenbird (common yellowthroat), eastern towhee, field sparrow, swamp sparrow, red-winged blackbird, Baltimore oriole, scarlet tanager.

SPRING AND/OR AUTUMN MIGRANTS:  Pied-billed grebe, green-winged teal, northern pintail, ring-necked duck, common merganser, American coot, greater yellowiegs, solitary sandpiper, sharp-shinned hawk, merlin, eastern phoebe, northern rough-winged and bank swallow, golden-crowned and rub-crowned kinglets, blue-headed vireo, numerous warblers (e.g., northern parula, black-throated blue, black-throated green, chestnut-sided, yellow-rumped, blackpoll, palm) dark-eyed junco, white-throated sparrow.


TURTLES:  eastern box, eastern painted, common snapping, spotted (Special concern) common musk or stinkpot, redbelly (origin unknown).

SNAKES:   eastern milk, northern black racer, northern water, eastern ribbon, eastern garter, eastern hognose (Special concern), and northern ringneck.


FROGS AND TOADS:    Bullfrog, green frog, Fowler’s toad, northern spring peeper, northern gray treefrog, pickerel frog and wood frog.

SALAMANDERS:  Redback (leadback variation), eastern tiger (Endangered), spotted (Special concern), marbled, red-spotted newt (aquatic and terrestrial stages).


NATIVE:  Eastern mudminnow (Rare), pumpkinseed sunfish, alewife, banded killifish, nine-spine stickleback, brown bullhead, chain pickerel, three-spine stickleback, golden shiner, American eel, white perch.

INTRODUCED:  Largemouth bass, blue-gill sunfish, and yellow perch.


BUTTERFLIES:   Spring azure, brown elfin, eastern pine elfin, frosted elfin, edward’s hairstreak, banded hairstreak, striped hairstreak, gray hairstreak, coral hairstreak, monarch, black swallowtail, spicebush swallow tail, eastern tiger swallowtail, cabbage white, clouded sulphur, orange sulphur, cloudless sulphur, American copper, eastern tailed blue, pearl crescent, question mark, mourning cloak, American lady, painted lady, red admiral, common buckeye, red-spotted purple, little wood satyr, common wood nymph, silver-spotted skipper, dun skipper, broad-winged skipper, zabulon skipper, Leonard’s skipper, hobomok skipper, tawny-edged skipper, cobweb skipper, European skipper, southern cloudywing, northern cloudywing, sleepy duskywing, wild indigo duskywing, Juvenal’s duskywing, common sootywing, least skipper and little glassywing.


DAMSELFLIES:   Slender spreadwing, swamp spreadwing, variable dancer (violet), azure bluet, familiar bluet, atlantic bluet, skimming bluet, New England bluet, scarlet bluet, pine barrens bluet, orange bluet, slender bluet, vesper blue, citrine forktail, lilypad forktail, fragile forktail, Eastern forktail.

DRAGONFLIES:    Common green darner, comet darner, swamp darner, lancet clubtail, common baskettail, calico pennant, halloween pennant, martha’s pennant, Eastern pondhawk, frosted whiteface, spangled skimmer, white corporal, slaty skimmer, common whitetail, twelve-spotted skimmer, painted skimmer, blue dasher, wandering glider (globetrotter), Eastern amberwing, ruby meadowhawk (sp), yellow-legged meadowhawk, Carolina saddlebags (red), black saddlebags.
The Long Pond Greenbelt was created 21,000 years ago by large scale, subsurface ice formation and subsequent melting.  Geologist William Neiter describes it as a rare, near-glacial relic, the likes of which are found only in the tundra regions of Russia.
Native American habitation dates back possibly 6,000 years and centered on freshwater ponds.  The first European settlers arrived on the South Fork in the late 1640s.  Many colonial roads followed the long used trails of the Native Americans.  The present-day trails in the Long Pond Greenbelt are known colonial roadbeds.In the late 1600’s to the mid 1800’s, gristmills operated in the area of Sagg Swamp and Sagg Pond.  An icehouse was run from Round Pond for approximately 70 years in the mid 1800s, and a dam was built in the late 1800s at the north end of Long Pond to provide public water for Sag Harbor.

In the late 1800s a mile long trench was dug between Crooked Pond, Deer Drink Pond, Long Pond and Otter Pond to increase the flow of water needed to operate a mill on Otter Pond.

From the early 1960s through the 1990s, Old Hickory Farm on Haines Path offered horseback riding by the hour through the beautiful trails in the Long Pond Greenbelt.

Sag Harbor's beautiful John Jermain Memorial Library was built in 1910 by Mrs. Russell Sage in memory of her grandfather, Major John Jermain, and presented as a gift to the people of the Village of Sag Harbor. John Jermain served in the Westchester Militia during the American Revolution. Following the War he moved to Sag Harbor and married Margaret Pierson of Bridgehampton. Their daughter, Margaret Pierson Jermain, was the mother of Margaret Olivia Slocum who married Russell Sage, a financier.

On June 17, 1912, two years after the opening, a deed of Trust was executed by Mrs. Sage in which the Library, its grounds and equipment were deeded to a body of Trustees under the laws of New York State. The Library was permanently endowed by Mrs. Sage that it might forever be secured to the people of Sag Harbor and vicinity.

Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage, Sag Harbor's greatest benefactor, also provided the Village with Pierson High School and Mashashimuet Park. She also contributed generously to various local churches and organizations, gifting Sag Harbor with a total of between $300,000 and $400,000.

The Old Railroad Spur was an actual railway connection from the Bridgehampton Train Station to Sag Harbor’s Long Wharf between 1870 and 1939.  A 1400-foot connection was constructed between the spur and the Round Pond icehouse to facilitate shipping ice to New York City.  The track was pulled up to supply steel during World War II.  

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