Southampton Trails Preservation Society
SOUTHAMPTON TRAILS PRESERVATION SOCIETY
We Are A 501(C)(3) Not For Profit
P.O. Box 1171
Bridgehampton, NY 11932
Generously Contributed by Ken Kindler
Seal Haulout Trail, Montauk
The Seal Haulout Trail is a popular trail because it’s easy to follow and it takes you to a lovely
destination in a reasonable amount of time. The maritime woods surrounding it are beautiful and
filled with wildlife. The entrance to this trail is on the shoulder of Montauk Highway, past Teddy
Roosevelt Park, and the Montauk Point East Overlook (also known as the Oyster Pond
Overlook). It is on the north side of the road, and the shoulder there is wide enough to
accommodate parking. As you enter Montauk though, there is a sign admonishing drivers that it
is illegal to park on the shoulder of the Highway as well as a DEC sign by the trail entrance that
says “Parking Only With Permit.” No sign designates this as a trailhead parking area. When I
want to hike here I continue a short distance to Camp Hero Road, turn right and park by the
entrance of the Point Woods Trail. At the opening of the path is a trail marker that is almost
obscured by the lush foliage of the Norway maple to which it is nailed. There is also a sign a few
feet beyond the entrance to the Point Woods Trail that reads “No Parking Service Access Only.”
This means do not park on the road, that would impede access for service personnel entering
through a gate to Camp Hero State Park; instead, park on the shoulder of the road.
In late winter and spring harbor seals frequent the rocky shoreline east of Oyster Pond. They
haul themselves out of the water onto these rocks to sunbathe. NYS Parks and the trails groups
lead seal walks from November through April to an area where you can view these adorable
pinnepeds. These woods are remarkably beautiful during the summer and a paradise for a
camera buff after a snowfall. During summer the cormorants, seagulls, and terns are lovely to
look at when they take their turn perching on the rocks.
I last visited the Seal Haulout Trail on an overcast Wednesday and didn’t encounter even one
other hiker on the trail. I wasn’t alone however, and was glad that I had applied insect repellent
to discourage the mosquitoes and a hat to keep the deer flies out of my hair.
When I arrived at the viewing area on the bluff, I still had a lot of time and energy, so I set off in a
northeasterly direction along the Block Island Sound shoreline walking towards Oyster Pond.
There is a walkway down through the bluffs from the viewing area. Beach fence is used to keep
it selectively accessible to pedestrians, and to keep motor vehicles out. After a mile walk along a
rocky coastline, I came to the opening in the bluffs dividing the Pond from the Sound. I visited
both bodies of water and then started back along the coastline.
After walking about one half-mile, I saw a cleft in the bluffs that appeared to be an entrance to a
horse trail. I checked my map and saw that I had found where East Oyster Pond Road opens to
Block Island Sound. I suspected that this trail would turn into the Paumanok Path heading east,
and if I followed it, it would take me back to where I had parked my car. The trail becomes a bit
marshy, but the tread isn’t badly churned up and the low spots have been built up with wood
chips. After walking a while I reached an intersection of trails. As is the case with many trail
intersections in the Montauk area there were several very helpful arrow signs placed here by
NYS Parks. One of them said “Paumanok Path West.” Since I knew I wanted to follow the
Paumanok Path east, I walked in the opposite direction from where the arrow was pointing. I
walked back past the beginning of the Seal Haulout Trail, over Montauk Highway, and back
along the Point Woods Trail to my car.