David Overton Trail

Location: Coram, NY

Size: 450 acres

Date of hike: May 27, 2017
  
I stumbled across David Overton Trail after trying to visit a recently deceased childhood friend at nearby Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, which is located at the intersection of Granny Road and NY Route 112 in Coram.  Since it was late in the day, the cemetery was already closed.  So I decided to drive around the area in case there was an adjacent park or preserve that I wasn't aware of.  Luckily, the trail's sign caught my eye less than a minute later.  And off I went to do some exploring.

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 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, which prompted me to return the following weekend due to the rapidly dwindling daylight.

The preserve's parking lot was empty when I arrived the second time, just like my first visit.  It consists of a gravelly patch big enough to fit maybe seven or eight cars.  There is also a kiosk with some information for mountain bikers, but no trail maps.  That meant I'd have to use my geocaching app to track my whereabouts within the preserve.  First, I walked north along a paved road inside the preserve that had numerous openings in the brush for visitors to access the forest.  I immediately realized the preserve is mostly a mountain biking spot, as the white markers all featured little images of bikes.  Apparently, 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 sitting amidst a sea of trees, as if a tornado had dropped it in that very spot.  But the best stuff had to be what looked like old structures and barriers used for paintballing.  There were wood platforms built 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.

I should note I didn't follow the loop trail.  I just wandered and took whatever path 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 was even within a stone's throw of them a few times 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 to be smacked in the face by a juicy, hairy caterpillar.

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 nature and man.  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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