7) Sammy’s Beach
If you leave your car at the end of Old House Landing Road and walk east on the beach, you will at first pass a number of private homes and then reach an undeveloped park area called “Sammy’s Town Beach”:
Most of this spit of land is just sea grass on sand dunes. There are some sand roads passable only by 4 wheel drive vehicles. In deed this area seems to be a favorite for those that need an engine: on a recent walk I counted 12 vehicle tracks on the beach. However, the beach is still a jewel: lots of sand, lots of stones and shells, good bathing, good fishing spots, bird watching. Sammy’s beach is likely named after Samuel Parsons who bought the peninsula in 1731. An alternative and popular story traces the name to Samuel Sherrill who’s cargo ship ran aground on the beach. It was carrying “hope chests” made in New Haven and destined for East Hampton ladies, including Miss Elizabeth Parsons, who went to the beach, met Samuel, fell in love and married him!
Sammy’s beach marks the mouth of Three Mile Harbor. There is an excellent and very informative book by Sylvia Mendelman: Three Mile Harbor (Seacoast Publishing, 2003). It includes a tour around the harbor and lots of history and anecdotes. It is a great summer read, especially if you live or vacation in the Springs. Sammy’s beach and Maidstone Park beach (on the east side of the entrance to 3 Mile Harbor) are both great spots for finding colorful Jingle shells (anomia simplex). Here is more on Jingle shells. And here are more examples of ear rings made with Jingle shells!
8 ) Maidstone Park Beach
The eastern side of the mouth of Three Mile Harbor is Maidstone Park. It is a county park administered by the Town of East Hampton. It sports a baseball field, picnic areas, bathroom facilities and a circular one way road with a parking area near the rock jetty along the narrow canal which is the entrance to the Harbor. This is a favorite local fishing spot because of the currents. In spite of the small area and the heavier traffic because of the road, this is a great beach for all. In the summer there is a bathing beach with life guards (= summer jobs for local high school students). Long distance swimmers and triathletes have used the beach for training swims of 1 mile or longer. There are plenty of stones and shells, specially jingle shells (anomia simplex). These are the source for our local Jewelry store (Maidstone Jewelry)…which you can read more about on this blog or you can visit the virtual store on Etsy to see our newest creations!
If you leave your car at the bottom of Flaggy Hole Road, marking the eastern border of this beach and then walk west, you will reach the canal entrance in 0.5 miles. Then you can round the corner and the parking lot on to a sandy area often used by 4 wheel drive vehicles and continue along the southern limit of Maidstone Park on a small and narrow beach with some small private coves and inlets. This soon becomes a nature preserve and is no longer passable, but you can walk along the road which leads up to the baseball field and then can get back on to the beach very close to where you started, or you can take Gallatin Lane back to Flaggy Hole Rd. This circular walk is about 1 mile long. Maidstone Park is also a great spot for picking beach plums (recipes for beach plum jam are found on the web). There is excellent bird watching and piping plovers nest on this beach in protected areas as they do on many of our beaches. It is also a good area to walk your dog (on a leash, when the plovers are nesting) or have a family picnic. You can also stop by Michael’s Restaurant, a nice local place for dinner or a snack, which is located just by the baseball field.
Around July 4th there are huge crowds on this beach to view fireworks formerly hosted by Boys Harbor, a now defunct camp on the western shore of Three Mile Harbor, recently sold to East Hampton town and Suffolk county. The fireworks however have survived, thanks in part to the efforts of neighbors like Rosetti Perchik and the Clam Shell Foundation.
9) Lion Head Beach
From the bottom of Flaggy Hole Road where there is a small parking area, you can also turn to your right and walk east on the beach which will bring you to Lion Head. At first you will pass Camp Blue Bay, a girl scout camp owned by Girl Scouts of Nassau County, Inc. Continuing along the beach there are high bluffs with private homes on top and the beach gets very narrow. Even at low tide you will have to climb over some obstacles as there are sea walls (or bulkheads and tenements) built right up to the water. Not an ideal route for your 90 year old grand mother, as we have found out. Further east, the beach widens and turns around a point. The homes in this area belong to a private community: Lion Head Beach Association. The name comes from a rock in Gardiners bay facing the entrance to Hog Creek. Occasionally, at low tide and in the winter, you can see a seal or two on the rock. There is no public parking or access to the beach. However, you can continue your walk past 2 inland ponds (with ducks and swans) all the way to the canal, e.g. the entrance to Hog Creek. Boats belonging to Lion Head home owners are moored around this little harbor. The walk from Flaggy Hole Rd to Hog Creek is about 1 mile (2 miles round trip). The beach is similar to Maidstone Park beach with nice stones and shells, although the stones are larger. This is not a crowded beach because access is restricted. Here is what we did with some stones from this beach:
10) Kings Point Beach
Kings Point Rd leads to the other (eastern) side of Hog Creek. Access is private and there is a gate denying access to all but Clearwater Beach Association members. The beach itself runs around a very rocky and inaccessible area (Kings Point). Kings point is named after an early settler (1649) by the name of King. At high tide it is impossible to walk this beach. Going east, the next point of access is from Springs Fireplace Rd where there is a small parking area by the beach. However, here too the beach is rocky and there are erosion controls (sea walls, bulkheads, tenements and rock piers) built right in to the sea, which makes this beach difficult to travel by foot. The rock piers could be good fishing spots, I imagine. You can walk about 1/4 mile in either direction from the parking area and if you like drift wood, there are large piles in this area. The few sandy areas also have a nice assortment of shells and stones. We use drift wood to display jewelry on. But there are many uses for drift wood and some artists, e.g. Carolyn Munaco Haynes, like to paint on nice pieces of drift wood.
11) Gerard Drive, Gerard Point
If you do not know this very scenic road, here is how to get there. Take Springs Fireplace Rd, towards the end, turn right on to Gerard Drive. This road runs about 1.5 miles along a spit of land which is occasionally barely wider than the road itself. In fact it has a history of being washed away by storm surges from the ‘Nor East’ and there are erosion controls built with boulders and even concrete at several places along the road. You can see water on both sides. To the east is a beach facing Gardiner’s Bay and the southern points of Gardiners Island are just a mile off shore. To the west are the beautiful bays of Accabonac Harbor. Much of the land around this area is owned by the Nature Conservancy thanks to a donation of 29 acres by Fred and Muriel Lake in 1968. This is a bird watchers paradise.
Gerard Drive is a favorite for cyclists and runners in the summer season. Some will drive to the end, Gerard Point, and leave their car at a small parking area. If you start your walk there, be sure to walk around the sand dunes by the inlet that marks the entrance to Accabonac Harbor. Just 50 yards away is uninhabited Edward’s Island (and next to it Wood Tick Island) with marshes all around it. You should be able to spot a Great Eastern Osprey. They nest on tall posts which you can find all over Accabonac Harbor. Take your binoculars along! On the other side of the inlet is Louse Point (see next entry). The east facing beach runs along Gardiners Bay and you will retrace the route you just covered by car for about 1.1 miles until the beach becomes impassable due to erosion controls and rock piers. I have seen fisherman on these piers and I imagine this are might be good fishing spot. This is an interesting beach. It is wide and most areas have lots of stones and rocks 1- 4 inches in diameter. It is a great place to find stones you might want to use as a paper weight. There are also a good variety of shells including some rather large jingle shells. What is interesting about this beach is the relatively large number of cinder blocks and red clay bricks that you can find. Finding building supplies suggests that the beach was once used by some as a dumping ground and this bodes well for finding beach glass! In fact, on a recent walk we found about a dozen pieces. In places, you can find access roads and paths to the inlets of Accabonac Harbor (on the west facing side of Gerard Drive). Some of these spots are quite lovely and great for bird watchers, but the marshes make it impossible to walk along a beach for very far. Most of Gerard Drive is flanked by private homes. All these homes are waterfront, to the east facing Gardiners Bay and to the west facing Accabonac Harbor. Some areas are Nature Preserves as for example the end of the Drive, Gerard Point. Because it is so scenic, well known and easily accessible, Gerard Drive is often crowded in the summer.
A stone from Gerard Drive set in a silver ring:
12) Louse Point Beach
You reach Louse Point via Old Stone Highway and then Louse Point Rd. It represents the southern side of the inlet which feeds Accabonac Harbor. On the Harbor side there are small natural coves with moorings for boats. Canoes and kayaks are stored along these coves. There is a parking area at the tip of Louse Point and you can see where the tarred road continues and was washed away, testament to the ever present problem of beach erosion in East Hampton. After walking around the point and taking in the views of Edwards Island, Wood Tick Island, Accabonac Harbor and Gerard Point, you will end up on a beautiful sandy beach facing east, with views of Hither Hills in the distance and the southern end of Gardiner’s Island. This is one of the nicest sandy bathing beaches on the “bay side” of East Hampton. In the summer it can be crowded.
After 1/3 mile there is a gradually increasing bluff to the right with private homes built on top, sometimes perilously close to the edge. The bluff reaches 100 feet high pretty soon and the beach is interrupted by erosion controls, large boulders, rock jetties etc. Soon the beach is pretty much impassable unless you wade through the water or climb on top of the sea walls. This area is called Accabonac Cliff. It is about 1/3 mile long. On the other end the beach opens up and you will soon reach Barnes Landing where the road provides an alternative access to the beach and a place to leave your car. When we last walked this beach in October there was plenty of Irish Moss – a crimson colored sea weed. Irish moss is a rich source of carrageenan (55%), which has medical properties and it was proposed that it could be used to prevent sexual transmission of viral diseases including herpes, papilloma virus and HIV! There were also lots of dead baby spider crabs when we visited this beach. Coincidence perhaps? This is not my favorite shelling beach, but you can find some nice stones and some beach glass.