Southampton Trails Preservation Society To Open Hamlet To Hamlet Woodland Footpaths On Saturday

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After hiking a footpath that connected various villages in Southern England a few years ago, Sag Harbor resident Tony Garro thought about home.“I said, Hey, we have the same ingredients in Southampton as they do in England,” Mr. Garro said in a phone interview this week, referring to what he described as “picturesque” hamlets and villages within the town. “It was kind of an idea waiting to happen.”

Mr. Garro rallied his fellow members of the Southampton Trails Preservation Society, and together they developed what is now the Hamlet to Hamlet Woodland Footpaths, a network of trails linking several hamlets and villages in the town.

On Saturday, the society will hold two inaugural hikes beginning at 10 a.m. to celebrate the opening of the trails. Starting from Mashashimuet Park in Sag Harbor, hikers will have the option of participating in a guided 3.7-mile walk to Bridgehampton, or a 5.3-mile walk to Noyac, the first two legs of the system.

Prior to the hikes, Southampton Town officials, along with the Trails Preservation Society, will celebrate the opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and refreshments at the park at 9 a.m.

But this is only the beginning for the Hamlet to Hamlet footpaths. Within the next year, Mr. Garro said, the society will expand the network to include North Sea and Southampton Village, as well as expanding across the Shinnecock Canal and into Hampton Bays. After those legs are completed, the entire system will consist of up to 60 miles of trails.

Southampton Town proved to be the perfect area to develop such a system, according to Mr. Garro. Unlike England, where most trails are on private lands, the Hamlet to Hamlet footpaths consist of already-existing trails on public land owned by the town, Suffolk County, and The Nature Conservancy, making them easy for people to access. Hikers on the trails will pass through the greenbelt along Long Pond and Crooked Pond, as well as the Mulvihill Preserve, and they’ll be able to encounter the glacial moraine and outwash plains throughout Southampton Town. Right now, a fair proportion of the Hamlet to Hamlet footpaths—about 15 miles—go along the Paumanok Path, which links more than 100 miles of trails all the way from Rocky Point to Montauk. But once the system expands, it will go off the path.

Town officials endorsed the project at its inception and put the Geographic Information Systems Department at the society’s disposal. The department created a map the society will distribute to hikers to help them navigate the trails, and it will also be available at Town Hall in Southampton Village and at the Southampton Town Parks and Recreation Department in Hampton Bays.

The map is also displayed on kiosk boards at each leg of the trail, which the Trails Preservation Society constructed and purchased on its own for a total price of nearly $5,000.

“The town has given us a lot of support on this. We’re very enthusiastic about it,” Mr. Garro said. “It’s a grand idea, when you think about it.”

To prep, members of the Trails Preservation Society all volunteered time over the last few years to mowing and clearing the trails. Moving forward, the society will be responsible for maintaining the Hamlet to Hamlet footpaths in addition to the other 300 miles of trails in the town.

Ultimately, Mr. Garro said the new footpaths will be a unique way for people to experience the Hamptons—instead of driving and sitting in traffic, individuals will be able to hike from hamlet to hamlet and village to village to enjoy all of the food, shops and scenery that each has to offer.

“This is a really unique geographical area. And we have a lot of woodlands that cover this geography,” he explained. “To me, it was a no-brainer.”

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