Photographing East Hampton’s Trails: Scoy Pond/The Grace Estate

The Grace Estate is a 516 acre preserve in the Northwest Woods section of East Hampton. There are larger preserves on Long Island, but in some respects the Grace Estate might be superior to other tracts of greater acreage.

One of the reasons for that is the uninhabited beach which runs along Northwest Harbor which can be hiked to through the woods. Another reason is that the remaining borders are formed by Northwest Road and Alewive Brook Road, (two of the most scenic and infrequently driven roads on eastern Long Island). Because of that, it’s exceptionally quiet in these woods. Additionally, there is even more preserved land on both sides of the roads in Cedar Point County Park (600 acres) and the Grassy Hollow Area owned by the town (just under 200 acres). To the south is yet another reserve connected to the Grace Estate by the Paumanok Path.

In other words, there’s lots of woods…lots of places to recreate.

The Paumanok Path traverses most of the Grace Estate, and a variety of loops and hiking combinations are possible from the trail (either by staying in the Estate, or by continuing out of it into another preserve).  The Paumanok Path is Long Island’s Appalachian Trail–a path which travels 125 miles from Rocky Point to Montauk Point.  Over that distance, the trail visits an impressive array of habitats making it one of the most unique long distance trails in the United States. The East Hampton Trail Preservation Society is the definitive source for  information about hikes in East Hampton:

There are a few residences that border the Estate (and unfortunately there’s more to come). Those who love the woods on Long Island learn to brace themselves for disappointments. At least there’s nothing on the immediate horizon that will threaten the wonderful degree of biodiversity found here.

The southern end of the Estate is home to several impressive kettle holes dominated by White Pines. Samp Hollow is the most conspicuous one. This region of East Hampton is virtually the only place on Long Island where White Pines may be found in indigenous stands. Quite possibly, the forest that has survived here is a remnant population from the last ice age.  Pitch Pines are also here. At the other end of the preserve is Scoy Pond–a sequestered fresh water hole which was the location of extraordinarily rare beaver activity a couple of years ago. Last week there weren’t any beavers, but the woods around the pond was ringing with the songs of warblers.

The photographs were taken a few days ago on the Paumanok Path at Scoy Pond.

For me, something about “two-dimensional” images such as these recalls the dripped-paint creations of  Jackson Pollock. Admittedly, making this sort of a connection requires a bit of a stretch.  If there is an analogy at work, it might be in the chaotic order of the twigs, and the fact that the visual language of the forest speaks in dominant colors much like his paintings did.

Beyond that, there’s no analogy in photography for the expressiveness of flung paint–and in truth, the two mediums are much further apart than they often look.

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