David Overton Trail

Location: Coram, NY

Size: 450 acres

Date of hike: May 27, 2017
  
David Overton Trail is a hilly hiking and biking path that winds through a forest filled with makeshift barriers and structures once used by a nearby paintball businessI stumbled across it after trying to visit a recently deceased childhood friend at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, which is located at the intersection of Granny Road and NY Route 112.  Since it was late in the day, the cemetery was already closed, so I decided to find a place to hike.  Luckily, the trail's sign caught my eye a few minutes later.  And off I went to explore.

Before embarking, I pulled out my phone to do some quick research on David Overton Trail.  The first result was a Newsday article from December 2015 in which the trail's opening was announced by officials in the Town of Brookhaven.  According to that article, the new trail which goes through Coram, Gordon Heights and Medford is a multi-use path that crosses woodlands, wetlands and meadows in the Overton Preserve.  The preserve sits on a triangle-shaped parcel bordering Route 112 to the west, Granny Road to the south, and Mill Road to the east.  It also contains four ponds three of which breed endangered tiger salamander and is home to a large variety of animals including bobwhites, scarlet tanagers and myriad warblers.  As for the trail's name, David Overton was among that triangle's earliest settlers and built his home on the south end around 1740, according to Long Island Neighborhood Network's websiteThe website All Trails also said the preserve has a 3.9-mile loop trail, although I decided not to follow the loop on my hike.  Lastly, leashed dogs are permitted.

I used an entrance on Granny Road near Middle Island Road, but I later found an alternate entrance on Mill Road near Dryden Avenue.  Both are large enough to fit half a dozen cars.  There was also a kiosk with information for bikers, but no trail map.  That meant I'd have to use my geocaching app to track my whereabouts.  First, I walked north inside the preserve along a paved road named David Overton Road that had openings in the brush for visitors to access the forest.  I immediately realized the preserve is a popular mountain biking location, as the trail markers all had images of bicyclesFrom what I learned, there are four levels of difficulty.  The easiest biking trails are all marked with a green circle, then a blue square for moderate, and single and double black diamonds for the preserve's most challenging trails.  After walking the entirety of the paved road until it reached a neighborhood on the opposite side of the preserve, I backtracked a bit and ducked into one of the openings in the brush.

The woods were filled with tons of cool things you simply don't see in other local preserves.  For example, the first item I encountered was some sort of old military-type weapon on two wheels.  I later came upon an abandoned pickup truck with "smoke pot" written on the side in red spray paint.  Then there was a broken boat just laying amidst the sea of trees as if a tornado had dropped it in that very spot.  But the best stuff was what looked like makeshift structures and barriers used for paintballing.  There were wooden platforms up in the trees, rusty barrels scattered around, and fragments of fences propped up for protection against incoming fire.  My subsequent research uncovered an article from 2011, also in Newsday, indicating the land was once used by Cousins Paintball.  But all that's there now are the apocalyptic-looking remnants.  I'll admit, it's a pretty chilling sight.  I couldn't get enough.

As I stated earlier, I didn't follow the loop trail.  Instead, I just wandered wherever I wanted.  Eventually, I passed a few bikers (or, should I say, they passed me) and a handful of deer.  Maybe four or five deer.  I even walked within a stone's throw of them one time before they saw me and fled the scene.  The forest is so dense that, if you're quiet, you can get pretty close before they see you.  Unfortunately, the preserve's density also means that it is very shadowy with lots of branches overhead, which resulted in a decent amount of caterpillars hanging from the trees on this dayI constantly found myself dodging them along the trail.  After all, the last thing I wanted was for a dangling caterpillar to smack me in the forehead.

My hiking music was Voyager, an Autralian progressive metal band that recently released their sixth album Ghost Mile.  Unfortunately, my copy hadn't arrived yet, so I found myself streaming the songs on YouTube.  I didn't even use earphones.  The preserve was mostly empty, so I just let the music play on my phone.  Hiking and headbanging are a magical combination.  My favorite song is probably the second track, "Misery is Only Company."  That's the perfect tune if you're craving a taste of some modern-day progressive metal. 

All in all, I definitely recommend David Overton Trail, with its unqiue mix of man and nature.  There's so much stuff hidden within its depths that I feel like I barely scratched the surface.  And, of course, thank you to my late friend for guiding me toward Overton.  RIP, Dominick. 
    
Video: David Overton Trail (360-degree view)

3 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for taking the time to share all this information and lovely photos. It's a very large public service which I really appreciate.

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  2. What road is the entrance and parking on for David Overton Preserve?

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    Replies
    1. David Overton Rd, which is off of Granny Rd, which is off of NY-112, north of the LIE Exit 64

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