Most Hamptons visitors enjoy relaxing on our popular beaches and strolling the local Main Streets of our villages and hamlets, but there are many more wonderful places to go and things to see on the South Fork. This year, in an attempt to offer something a bit different to our readers, we’ve created a series of Hamptons Must Sees This Summer. It’s our hope you’ll head off the beaten path to experience some true local gems you might not otherwise find.
Located just north of Route 27 in Hither Hills State Park in Napeague, the Walking Dunes is a unique and beautiful site unlike any you’ve probably seen. Made up of three coastal parabolic dunes (U-shaped dunes created by blowouts over vegetated lands), these mounds of sand, which reach heights of 80 feet, are in constant flux and slowly “walking” in a southeasterly direction, devouring vegetation as they go. The result is a beautiful and almost otherworldly landscape rife with flora and fauna, and stunning views. (Watch the above video by Chris Cafiero to get a sense of the place.)
A .75-mile trail takes hikers on a loop starting on the beach, going through natural scrub and foliage, up to a high dune ridge offering a spectacular view of Napeague Harbor, then past a freshwater bog, and returning to the beach. Along the way, you’ll also find a sign for the Phantom Forest—an area of dead trees, once buried by sand, that is slowly revealing itself as the dunes travel. Upon completion of the loop, visitors can extend their hike with a 2.5-mile walk along Napeague Harbor.
Please remain on the trail as this is a fragile ecological wonder that can be compromised by too much human foot traffic.
Head east on Montauk Highway (Route 27) past the Clam Bar. Upon reaching the Napeague Tennis Club on the left (north) and the Sea Crest Resort on the right (south), turn left onto Napeague Harbor Road and follow it north until it ends at Napeague Harbor. Park without blocking the beach access and follow the markers into the self-guided trail. A trail guide is available at the site.