In December, the Southampton Trails Preservation Society (STPS) and the Town of Southampton will celebrate the creation of an exciting new trail system, the Hamlet to Hamlet Footpaths. These footpaths will connect Southampton’s unique villages and hamlets through predominantly public access lands, which have been acquired by the Community Preservation Fund, Southampton Town, The Nature Conservancy and Peconic Land Trust.
The genesis of Southampton’s Footpaths began in England in 2007. A group of fellow STPS trekkers, including my wife and I, went to England to hike the fabled moors in the southwest portion of the country. We discovered a variety of great trails along with several interesting facts.
The first thing we realized was the Brits take hiking very seriously. So much so that on a specific weekend in May, British hikers take to the trails and walk all the routes available. We thought this very droll, but soon found out there were also practical reasons for these hikes. Many of the trails in England and Wales are on private lands and access to them is embedded in English common law. Hiking them annually re-enforces citizens’ hiking rights. A second fact we discovered was that ancient regional trails are part of a national trail system. An interesting corollary to these national trails are the many local footpaths that connect the quaint villages and hamlets that dot rural England.
Once home, reliving my English experience, I found my best memories were of these local footpaths. Life has a way of rushing in and diminishing even the best of reveries, but every so often, particularly when I hiked our local trails, the English footpaths came to mind.
Then one day I had an epiphany. Southampton has quaint villages and hamlets, unique terrain and flora. Why not connect them by foot? When I broached this idea with my fellow hikers they were equally enthusiastic. The town also thought it was a good idea.
Now, at last, it has become a reality.
While the Footpaths were initially my idea, the reality of creating them has been a major undertaking. Many hours of planning, selecting blazes and routes, and erecting map kiosks were necessary. Ross Baldwin, of the town’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Department, was invaluable in mapping and advising the STPS. The trails society maintenance crew, under the leadership of Susan Colledge and Ken Bieger, deserve special mention. Members of the crew, Howard Roth, Mark Potter and Peter Lee also merit special praise.
Join us for the inaugural hike on Saturday December 6, at 9 a.m., rain, snow or shine, at Mashashimuet Park in Sag Harbor. Ribbon cutting, refreshments and speeches will be followed at 10 a.m. by hikes on the two completed legs of the Hamlet to Hamlet Trails.
The first hike is a 3.7 mile route from the park to Lumber Lane, Bridgehampton. This trail will traverse the Long Pond Greenbelt, passing unique and beautiful coastal ponds a near intact remnant of the last glacial ice age from 20,000 years ago. Once we reach Lumber Lane, downtown Bridgehampton is a short walk away.
A second, longer hike of 5.7 miles will head west from the Greenbelt and terminate at Trout Pond, Noyac. This hilly hike will follow trails on top of the glacial moraine and include water views, glacial erratics and oak, hickory and laurel forests.
Transportation back to Mashashimuet Park will be provided on both hikes. Sturdy footwear is advised. The shorter hike is about two hours while the Trout Pond trek is about three.
When completed, the Hamlet to Hamlet trail system will connect Sag Harbor, Bridgehampton, Noyac, North Sea, Southampton Village, Hampton Bays and Westhampton Beach. This will be an enduring legacy for future generations of Southampton Town.
Visit southamptontrails.com for more info.