Stillwell Woods Preserve

The other day, SIVamDSCN2686I spent the day exploring different trails along the Suffolk-Nassau County border. This was unusual for me since I don’t really like driving in a lot of traffic and  the traffic volume on Long Island increases the further west one travels. My husband swears I have a car that stops at the border. Of course, I was traveling west at 8am on a Sunday morning, so I had no problems reaching the county border (and my car was fine as well).

In the morning, I explored a portion of the Massapequa Preserve. This preserve is a long, thin piece of land that runs from Merrick Road, north to Southern State Parkway. SweetPepperbushThe hiking trail running through this park is a part of the Nassau Suffolk Greenbelt Trail, which continues north to Cold Spring Harbor.

I spent the morning with my fellow Naturalist Program classmates learning about trail maintenance. We walked along with our guide from a local hiking organization, as he explained trail grades and clipped vegetation that was encroaching on the path. He also stressed consistency in marking trails, which we discovered is quite often overlooked. CedarGrovThere were a few times when the turnoffs weren’t clear or we failed to locate the next blaze, especially where the trail crossed roads.

After lunch, we continued to Stillwell Woods Preserve where we learned about trail maintenance from a mountain bike organization. Although I am not a fan of bike trails, our guide went into great detail about the steps involved in laying out a new trail, the amount of time involved in creating the trail, and the time involved in getting approval from the different agencies.FalseSolomonSeal

Both leaders talked about the use of volunteers for trail maintenance. This was one of those things that surprised me, but if I had given  any thought to the matter should have realized. I had always assumed that trails were maintained by the agencies that had jurisdiction of a particular park. True, there is some oversight by these agencies but it seems that there is a heavy reliance on volunteers to keep trails passable.

When our discussion about trails was concluded, we rambled a bit more through Stillwell Woods. We passed a lovely grove of cedar trees along the way. As we finished up for the day, I noticed the False Solomon Seal plants had gone to seed but still displayed a subtle beauty.

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