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

The Calverton Ponds Preserve

Over a decade ago, Bill, a friend of mine, asked me if I was interested in visiting a really pretty place. We parked at The Nature Conservancy Calverton Ponds Preserve and visited three beautiful coastal plain ponds. We observed osprey, egrets, frogs, and fish and inhaled the scent of pine, wintergreen and spice fern. We walked on trails through Pine Barrens woods, our footsteps cushioned by slowly decaying oak leaves and pine needles.

Since this was one of my first forays into nature, Bill gave me a lesson about dealing with ticks. Before we walked through the grassy areas, he showed me how to tuck my pants into my socks. It looks weird but it is an effective means of preventing the ticks from attaching themselves to you. He reminded me that every time we walked through a grassy area or in a place where the bush crowded the trail, to check my pants legs. He had suggested that I wear light colored clothing, so it was now easy to see the dark little dots working their way up my pants legs. “They always head directly north,” he observed. “It’s the fact that they are predictable that makes them easy to deal with.” He continued, almost pedantically, “They seem to have a negative geotropism. The ones that make it to the neck or head of their hosts are safer from being nipped off or rubbed off, and they survive to have offspring. Just check your clothes often, keep your shirt tucked in your pants, pick them off and flick them away. Don’t bother trying to crush them, they are practically uncrushable.”

Last summer, while walking the well-marked paths around the ponds, I at first was reassured by the fact that where the trails were grassy, a Nature Conservancy volunteer had run through them with a lawnmower. After walking a short distance, however, my feeling of reassurance evaporated as I watched several deer ticks marching from the tops of my sneakers onto my socks. I removed my sneakers and socks and sprayed them with insect repellent. While I was doing this, from the corner of my eye, I saw a large, dark-colored, blunt-winged bird swoop through the canopy of trees. I saw gossamer and gaudy winged damselflies and dragonflies, some parking on twigs only inches from my face. It’s a beautiful place, but be forewarned: right now there are a lot of ticks. If you decide to visit, take the necessary precautions for keeping ticks at bay.

The Calverton Preserve is cooperatively owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy and Suffolk County Parks. The Ponds and the surrounding area near the headwaters of the Peconic River contain many rare and endangered species. This area offers a unique and ecologically wondrous experience to the hiker, thus it is important to be careful to have as little impact on the trails and surrounding lands as possible. We are, after all, the stewards of our natural environment and we must preserve it for our grandchildren. Please only walk on the trails. No pets, horses or vehicles are allowed in the Preserve.

I suggest you visit the Ponds from the Old River Road entrance. Here you will find several informational kiosks and some excellent maps.

You can walk the trails through this 350-acre preserve in about two hours. A good route is to follow the white trail around the eastern side of Block Pond, then follow the yellow trail to Fox Pond. On your way back to the Old River Road entrance, take the yellow trail between Sandy and Block Ponds. Along the way there are several branching trails that enable you to visit the shorelines of the ponds.

Directions: From the Long Island Expressway, take Exit 70, heading north towards Manorville. At the end of the off-ramp, travel north for a short distance past the Trails Information Center on your right. Turn right onto Ryerson (Post Office on corner). Cross the railroad tracks, 0.2 miles. The road curves to the left, becoming Wading River Manor Road. Follow Wading River Manor Road north 0.8 miles to Old River Road (NOT River Road). Turn right onto Old River Road and travel 0.4 miles to a small parking area on the left. Please do not block the gate.

For more information, call the Manorville Trails Information Center (631) 369-9768 or The Nature Conservancy (631) 367-3225 or visit www.nature.org.

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Ken Kindler
Open Space & Trails Advocate
Post Office Box 1466
Sayville NY 11782
Ken@Hike-LI.com

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