Southampton Trails Preservation Society
SOUTHAMPTON TRAILS PRESERVATION SOCIETY
We Are A 501(C)(3) Not For Profit
P.O. Box 1171
Bridgehampton, NY 11932
My first impression of Long Pond over three decades ago was one of awe and appreciation of the beauty of the area. As I stood
on Sprig Tree Path between Long Pond and Little Long Pond for the first time, I knew I was glimpsing an area of ponds not
commonly found on Long Island. The idea of the Long Pond Greenbelt may have been in Nancy Willey's mind (Ms. Willey was a
Sag Harbor conservationist), but this was before it had gathered support. Several years later botanists from the Nature
Conservancy would declare that the greenbelt contained more rare plants than almost anywhere in New York State.
One of the qualities of Long Pond is the water level's fluctuation, providing an indicator of the water table. When rainfall ebbs for
long periods, the entire northern half of the pond becomes a bog that can be walked with dry feet. Plants like the carnivorous
sundew appear as well as the beautiful bloom of St. Johns Wort. It has been at least ten years since I've witnessed this
environment, as rainfall has been abundant. The more water that enters the pond eventually flows northward out of Ligonee
Ligonee had a culvert installed to slow the water's flow; however it is no match for high water. In fact, at times hundreds of feet of
Sprig Tree Path, which follows the western side of the pond becomes inundated as the concrete disappears underwater. The area
around the pond’s outlet to Ligonee is unique in habitat, and has been transformed from invasive phragmites back to native reeds
thanks to hard working volunteers. It is a wonder of nature. Dragonflies, turtles, frogs, muskrat, deer, and waterfowl all call it
home. Once it was a haven for an incredible chorus of spring peepers, which have been absent for several years. I have
witnessed the migration of large numbers of eels that will attempt to travel from Sag Harbor to the Sargasso Sea. The view of
Long Pond in the fall is spectacular from this northeast corner where nature puts on her color show in particularly vibrant fashion.
The only better way to see this pond is from the water. There is vehicle access off Widow Gavits Road, just south of the power
lines. Turn right before the hill leading to the railroad spur, and you will find a small dirt launching area. As you launch, look for
two cypress trees on your left. They are unusual, in that they are a bit north of their usual terminus. Looking west, notice an area
of relative pristine natural beauty far from man-made diversions. The low water between landforms is well worth exploring. About
a half mile long, Long Pond lives up to its name and provides a good amount of shorefront. You may often see turtles dive and
fish splash as you paddle. Osprey, hawks and owls of many kinds frequent this area as well as an occasional bald eagle,
according to reports. In summer, the northern half of the pond is a maze of water lilies, so thick as to be almost impenetrable. In
the morning when the petals open, they are truly breathtaking. The pads provide a resting place for the numerous damselflies and
dragonflies which avoid the ever present tree swallows and kingbirds.
From June to July, the understory of flora surrounding the pond is often high and low bush blueberry. You can often satiate your
thirst with these delicate morsels. In May and June larger blue flag iris can be found in large stands at the ponds edge. In late
spring, with a little perseverance, the wild orchid, pink lady's slipper, can be found. It's a real beauty of nature; once seen, it is
There are a few occurrences I wish I could forget. I remember one dry fall day when a guy delivered his duck blind on a truck and
trailer driving on the inside perimeter of Long Pond. On another occasion I heard a motor boat on the pond; someone wrongly
thought they could run a gas powered engine on Long Pond. Out walking one day, I discovered a moored seaplane in the middle
of the pond. (A friend assured me it had to be a drug deal, so I kept my distance!) And then, a few winters ago when the ice was
strong, I spotted a number of ATVs racing across the pond, as if they were allowed to. Each of these is an outrageous assault
upon a true treasure of a pond.
A hike to Long Pond can start from several different locations From Sag Harbor’s Mashashimuet Park, you head south on the
railroad spur, take a trail east, and connect to Sprig Tree Path, which will lead you to Long Pond. Or you can begin your walk from
either the end of Round Pond Lane (off Sagg Road) or from the entry on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike.
When you come, whichever path you take, bring your field guide, binoculars, and camera. You won't be disappointed. The more
you look, the more you will find.
By John Mahoney, an avid nature photographer and Friend of the Long Pond Greenbelt’s first president.