Laurel Valley County Park is a little gem of a park, situated in Noyac. Curiously, it is absent from most listings of Suffolk County Parks. Where it is mentioned it’s described as a “passive park for hiking and birdwatching.” This beautiful and tranquil 148-acre park, maintained by Southampton Trails Preservation Society, is definitely worth a visit.
The trails are well marked, but since there are four different ones in the park it can be confusing. The Paumanok Path* runs east to west along the southern portion of the park. The Blue-Owl Loop, which joins the Paumanok Path at one point, and is bisected by the Black-Owl Loop at another point, is identifiable by diamond shape signs showing a blue owl on a white background. The Yellow Owl Trail breaks off from the Blue-Owl Loop to take you to the south end of Wildwood Road another good Trailhead for the park. If you have a map, you will see that the Yellow Owl Trail takes you to the portion of the Blue Loop Trail near the scenic overlook in the northeastern corner of the park. From here you can look out beyond the Noyac Golf Course to Little Peconic Bay and with the assistance of binoculars, you can view the North Fork.
There is a map of the trails in the park posted on the kiosk, but it is stationary. Obtaining a map of Laurel Valley in advance of your hike is advisable. They are available through the mail for $4.50. Send a check along with your address to the Southampton Trails Preservation Society at PO Box 1172, Bridgehampton, N. Y. 11932. Be sure to state which map you need as STPS has several maps available. For more information call (631) 537-5202.
The mountain laurels except after unusually harsh winters give the hiker a lovely display of flowers in June. The knob and kettle topography, the deep ravines, a glacial erratic, and an exquisite view of the Peconic Bay all provide plenty of geological interest even without the laurels in bloom. There is a varied ecology in this park. Large communities of bracken fern, American beech, black locust, and oak trees co-exist here.
This is a great place for bird watching; I have seen a great horned owl take flight, the mating of American woodcocks, and a red-tailed hawk circling above along with many other species of birds. The song of Baltimore orioles, the “tish-tish” of ovenbirds, and the sounds of many other birds are a treat to the ears and to the soul.
Directions to Laurel Valley: From County Road 39, head east past Southampton College, bear left onto North Sea Road. Follow the sign for Route 52, Sag Harbor and North Sea. After traveling 2.4 miles bear right onto Noyac Road (Route 38). Travel 4.6 miles to Deerfield Road where you will make a very sharp right turn.
You will find the Trailhead approximately 1 mile south on the left side of the road. There is no comfort station or designated parking area, but there is room for several cars on the shoulder of the road opposite the entrance to the North Side Hills Development. I suggest that you enter the park from the Deerfield Road entrance because there is a kiosk there and a map of the trail is posted there.