The dawn of a new year, 2014.
The dawn of a new year.

There’s nothing quite like the clarifying feeling of a brisk walk through the woods and beaches and fields of the East End to start your new year right.

Nature groups here are gearing up for the winter hiking season, with walks for birders, nature lovers and seal watchers both on New Year’s Day and in the days surrounding New Year’s.

Out in Montauk, the Montauk State Park is hosting a family seal walk on Jan. 1 at 10 a.m. This two-to-three hour program includes a short overview of why seals arrive in Montauk each winter, hauling out on the rocks just too the west of Montauk Point, followed by a hike down the seal haulout trail.

Reservations are required and will be accepted starting two weeks prior to the program at 631.668.5000. The program is ideal for children over the age of five, but all ages are welcome. The cost for the trip is $4 per adult, $3 for children ages 3 to 17 and children under 3 are free.

The East Hampton Trails Preservation Society is also hosting a seal haulout walk on Dec. 31 at 10 a.m. Hikers will meet at Camp Hero Road in Montauk, a right turn off Route 27 about one mile east of Deep Hollow Ranch.

Leaders are asking hikers to dress warmly with proper footgear for the weather, and to bring their binoculars. Leader Eva Moore can be reached at 631.238.5134 or on the day of the hike at 631.681.4774.

Birders Rick and Linda Kedenburg are hosting their annual North Fork Audubon Society New Year’s Morning Bird Walk at Orient Beach State Park on Jan. 1 at 9 a.m. They’re hoping to spot winter birds, ducks and maybe a snowy owl. Snowy owls had quite the season on the East End last winter.

For more information, call Rick and Linda at 631.734.7144 or email

Rick Whalen of the East Hampton Trails Preservation Society is hosting  his 27th annual Hither Woods New Year’s Hike on Sat., Jan. 3 at 10 a.m. Hikers will meet at the Hither Hills Overlook, car pool to Napeague Meadow Road, and hike the south shore of Napeague Harbor, then travel through the pitch pine woods of Nominicks and past Fresh Pond for scenic coastal views on this eight-mile hike.

Hikers are asked to bring lunch and liquids on this free hike. Rick Whalen can be reached at 631.267.6608 or on the day of the hike at 631.275.8539.

The Quogue Wildlife Refuge is celebrating the new year with their full moon night hike on Mon., Jan. 5 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Hikers will make their way through the forest up to North Pond, looking and listening for nocturnal creatures, and enjoying some night vision activities under the light of the moon.

The refuge is asking attendees to make reservations at least 24 hours in advance at 631.653.4771. The hike is free for refuge members and $5 for non-members.

The Southampton Trails Preservation Society is hosting two free New Year’s hikes the weekend after New Year’s Day. On Jan. 3 from 10 a.m. to noon, they’ll host an Elliston Park Trek, a three-mile hike beginning from the entrance to the Emma Rose Elliston Park on Millstone Brook Road in North Sea, with views of Wolf Swamp and Big Fresh Pond. For more information, call Howard Reisman at 631.283.5376.

On Jan. 4 from 10 a.m. to noon, STPS will host Munn’s Park Perambulation from 10 a.m. to noon. Meet at the parking lot of Munn’s County Park (Wildlife Rehabilitation Center) on Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays for a moderately-paced four-mile hike through Munn’s and Sears Bellows Parks.

For more information, contact hike leader Liz Karpin at 631.728.
6492 or at 516.320.0761.

If you’re not quite feeling up to a hike and you happen to be a wiz at picking out birds, the Group for the East End could use your help with their bird feeder watch program at Downs Farm Preserve in Cutchogue.

Between Jan. 4 and 10, Volunteers are asked to count and identify birds visiting the feeders at the preserve for a minimum of 15 minutes on their assigned observation day. For more information or to register for the informational meeting, contact Christine Tylee at



Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at

2 thoughts on “Starting the New Year in the Woods

  1. Looking back on this article brought back so many good memories. And yes, Linda and I had a Snowy owl on the trip. Maybe I’ll do it again 1/1/21
    Thank you for being a great journalist !!

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