Ligonee: Going by many names throughout its history — called by some Ligonee Brook, by others Ligonee Creek, and even, occasionally Ligonee Dreen – the stream flows from Long Pond to Sag Harbor Cove, connecting the Greenbelt’s largest freshwater pond, Long Pond, with the saline waters of Peconic Bay. Ligonee serves as the southwestern border of the Village of Sag Harbor. A historic and well-documented alewife and American eel run, it skirts or intersects three Long Pond Greenbelt trails. To access trails leading to Ligonee, use the trailhead near the map kiosks at Mashashimuet Park just off Main Street, Sag Harbor.
The ponds of Vineyard Field. There are six DEC-designated ponds and wetland zones at Vineyard Field, the largest is Black Pond. Most are natural formations, but one pond was dug by farmers in the 1940s and the other by the Bridgehampton Winery in the 1980s. These assorted pond systems and wetland areas support bird, reptile, amphibian, and insect species adapted to wetland and grassland habitats. This includes the Eastern tiger salamander, a NYS-endangered species, whose presence was first revealed at Vineyard Field in 1994. A vibrant grassland area unique to Southampton, Vineyard Field is the site of one of the Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt’s most ambitious projects: a native grassland restoration, which has been underway since 2005. To visit Vineyard Field you may park in the SOFO Museum parking lot. Entry to the museum is not required for access to the field.
Little Poxabogue Pond
Little Poxabogue Pond is a picturesque, shallow pond, eight acres in size, whose northern shoreline extends close to and just south of the LIRR underpass on Narrow Lane. Its water level is usually slightly higher than its much larger neighboring pond, from which it derives its Algonquin name, Poxabogue. A small, easily-forded intermittent stream connects the two. Little Poxabogue’s shoreline is wooded, with tupelos and red maples dominating the pond’s edge, giving way to oaks and a few American beech on the higher and drier ground nearby. As with the typical coastal plain ponds found elsewhere in the Long Pond Greenbelt, Little Poxabogue Pond is groundwater-fed, its water level fluctuating with seasonal changes. Little Poxy is accessed through the Poxabogue Park trail system, whose entry is off Old Farm Road, where parking is available.
Poxabogue Pond. Poxabogue Pond, about forty acres in size, and the shoreline around it sit within the boundaries of the Village of Sagaponack, in an area referred to as North Sagaponack. Suffolk County’s Poxabogue Park and shoreline edge preserved by Southampton Town protect close to two-thirds of the shoreline. In William Mulvihill’s book South Fork Place Names we are told that the name Poxabogue is derived from Paugasa-baug, meaning “a pond that widens,” which certainly describes the changes in pond surface size that occur during periods of heavy rainfall and drought. If you’re in the mood for a quick nature boost, you can drink in the sight of sunlight skipping off the pond’s water by driving along Old Farm Road or by taking a short hike at Poxabogue Park. The entrance to the park is near the train trestle on Old Farm Road. Parking is available.
Tucked away in a small residential cluster, Lily Pond can be seen from the Sag Harbor/Bridgehampton Turnpike, just north of the Sag Harbor transfer station. This round, six-acre, freshwater pond, as per its name, is covered with fragrant water lilies (nymphaea odorata) during the summer. With the most developed edge of all the Greenbelt’s coastal plains ponds, its shoreline is rimmed by seventeen houses. Though it lacks public access, a small Nature Conservancy preserve off Laurel Lane does provide a greenway corridor connecting Lily and Little Long Pond. The preserve is named the Williamson Preserve in honor of the property’s former owners. To read more about the rare plants and animals to be found there.
Of the thirteen coastal plain ponds that make the Long Pond Greenbelt such a unique natural area, seventeen-acre Crooked Pond is acknowledged as the best occurrence of a coastal plain pond in the Greenbelt and possibly in all of New York State. Its water quality tops the charts of all the Greenbelt ponds. And with seventy-five percent of its shoreline undeveloped, its pond edge has suffered minimal habitat loss or disturbance. It’s unusual amoeba-like shape creates a slew of micro-habitats that foster remarkable ecological diversity. The amoeboid, or “crooked,” shape comes about because a peninsula juts from the eastern shore making the pond zigzag around it. At the tip of the peninsula sits a small island that extends and complicates the bisecting effect of the peninsula. Hiking to Crooked Pond is a snap. Virtually surrounded by trails, the pond can be accessed from the east on Sprig Tree Path, off Widow Gavitts Road, or by using Widow Gavitts Trail, a spur of the road, where there’s parking for one vehicle. The Truman Capote memorial stone sits in a small clearing at the pond’s edge. To read about the landmark preservation of Crooked Pond,
Round Pond. Perhaps the most easily accessible of all the ponds in the Greenbelt, Round Pond sits at the outskirt of Sag Harbor Village, where Middle Line Highway ends. Seven aces in size, the pond’s depth rises and falls with groundwater, as is characteristic of all coastal plain ponds. Trails bordering the pond begin at the Round Pond Lane cul-de-sac trailhead, where limited parking is permitted. In a long-planned project partnered between Southampton Town and Sag Harbor Village — a project persistently championed by Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt — the failing bulkhead where Middle Line comes to a halt will be removed and replaced by a natural shoreline to help improve water quality and mitigate storm runoff. Kayak and canoe access will be available. This shoreline rehabilitation project is scheduled for the spring and summer of 2021.
Fore ‘n Aft Pond
This tiny pond, less than an acre in size, is easily overlooked. It is best accessed by way of the trail that runs along the east side of Mashashimuet Park. Head south from the park to the intersection of the unopened portion of Middle Line Highway and turn left, following Middle Line east until you glimpse Round Pond straight ahead. Fore ‘n Aft is tucked almost out of sight in the oak-hickory forest on your left. Look for a well-worn, unmarked trail leading off to the left (north) and follow that a short distance (200 feet) towards a house. Before reaching the house, the pond will come into view. For more about this tiny gem of a pond.
The pond, the bridge, and the surrounding parkland sit at the southern gateway to the village across the street from Mashashimuet Park. For centuries a focal point of village life, its shores have seen houses and mills come and go, but its current character was set in motion when, in 1908, Sag Harbor’s most prominent benefactress, Mrs. Russell Sage, purchased the pond and its surroundings, had the existing buildings removed, and two years later donated it all to the association managing Mashashimuet Park. To learn more about the park’s fascinating history.
About a mile outside of the village of Bridgehampton, just off the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike on the west side, Slade Pond sits tucked between the Children’s Museum of the East End and a nearby cluster of small homes. A small, shallow pond whose ups and downs perfectly embody the characteristic fluctuating water levels of a coastal plain pond, Slade Pond offers easy viewing pleasure. At the end of a dry season, it can be barely a mud puddle. But when the water table replenishes, the water level rises so high it looks as if it might spill into the road. You can pull your car safely to the roadside to enjoy the view for a moment or park at the CMEE parking lot and walk north. Ducks and geese are frequent visitors and on occasion, a great blue heron can be seen feeding at the far shoreline. In the spring and summer of 2021, Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt will begin a project to remove the invasive Japanese knotweed and mile-a-minute vine growth on the pond’s eastern bank.