Big Woods Preserve – Southampton
Parking at Elliston Park is for Southampton Town residents only from Memorial Day until Labor Day. Please check the signs.
Big Woods is an 87-acre tract of mature forest managed by Southampton Town and the Nature Conservancy (TNC). A sign at the entrance of the TNC parking area describes this wildlife preserve as the Marguerite Crabbe Greef Wildlife Sanctuary in honor of a woman whose family made the TNC purchase possible. In addition to the forest of oak, beech, and white pine, there are freshwater wetlands and a breathtakingly beautiful view of the Sebonac Creek tidal marshlands.
Big Woods is adjacent to Southampton Town’s Emma Rose Elliston Memorial Park and across from the Conservancy’s Wolf Swamp Preserve. Wolf Swamp shares the perimeter of Big Fresh Pond with the Town Park. An excellent resource for information (and maps) about the two preserves and the Town Park can be found in The Trail Guide to the South Fork by Mike Bottini.
Across Millstone Brook Road from this parking area at the apex of the two roads is the entrance to Wolf Swamp. It has a well-marked loop trail. Opposite, across Scott Road, is an entrance to a Town Trustee Road. Follow this dirt road and after a short distance, there is a threatening North Sea Gun Club sign. Don’t worry though, this sign is meant to address illegal hunting; hikers will be safe if they stay to the trail. Just past the sign turn left to visit Big Woods along the westbound Paumanok Path to the Big Woods loop or continue straight for a short distance, then turn right (east) to visit the 133-acre Elliston Park. Continue straight on the trustee road, it will take you to land managed by the Peconic Land Trust.
You need permission to visit the Land Trust property (283-3195). If you get back on Millstone Brook Road and travel a little further east you will find the small TNC parking area for Big Woods. The South Fork Nature Conservancy appreciates when you call before you visit 631-329-7689.
If you are looking for an adventure in nature and you are a moderately experienced hiker, explore these areas along Millstone Brook Road. The two TNC loops at Big Woods and Wolf Swamp are easy to follow, however, the other trails connected to them could be a little challenging for the inexperienced hiker.