Cycling on Long Island: Montauk Point Excursion

This was the second of two day trips that I had on Long Island, New York. The first took me to Shelter Island, a 50 mile ride that was a nice way to spend a day. This 45 mile ride to Montauk Point was better in terms of interesting places to visit in addition to the views of the waterfront.

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This ride took me from Amagansett to Montauk Point. Route 27 east was busy, but there is a generous bicycle lane all the way to Montauk Point. Still, I was looking for opportunities to use side roads as an option to get away from Route 27. That opportunity came when I found the fork in the road that took me down Old Montauk Highway.

Hither Hills State Park looked interesting, so I took a spin around the camp sites and did some people watching. I propped my bike against a rail fence and hiked over the dune to see the beach that stretched seemingly for miles in both directions. It was a somewhat chilly and windy day, so there were only a few people walking the beach. There were some lifeguards trying to keep warm and chatting at the lifeguard stand.

Hither Hills State Park Beach

From there I rode into Montauk and picked up Route 27 once again for a short distance to the entrance of Camp Hero State Park. This looked like a good place to explore. The entrance road took me to a parking lot on the sand cliff. As I looked back toward the northwest, I saw a radar tower and I wanted to learn more about it.

Camp Hero dates back to World War II when it was both a defensive position and a training base. As a defense, it had large cannon bunkers aimed over the water to defend against German submarines or warships that might approach the coast. As a training base, it was used to train soldiers to operate antiaircraft weapons with live fire at unmanned aircraft.

When I got to the base of the RADAR antenna, I learned that it was built much later in 1960 as a part of the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system in place at the time to provide air defense for the United States against Soviet bombers. This particular site could detect and track targets up to 200 miles away. It was decommissioned in 1980.

RADAR at Hero Camp State Park

From there to Montauk Point was a very short ride. The lighthouse there is picturesque, but they charged an entry fee to get close. I didn’t see a need to do that. Instead, I spent my money at the small restaurant at the point. There is a great selection of food and I had a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich with a soda. The outdoor seating was nice, especially since the sun had broken out and I was able to bask in warm rays as I ate.

Montauk Light

On the way back to Montauk, I spotted a road that I had mentally marked on my way east toward the point earlier. I swung right and headed toward Block Island Sound on Old West Lake Drive. This was another side trip that happily took me away from Route 27 once again.

I was getting hungry for some ice cream. A marina with a small store seemed to be the ticket, but all they sold was bait. The person behind the counter was able to point me toward a Ben and Jerry’s that was a little further up the road. I happened to pass a boat ramp where two men were taking a 30 foot commercial fishing boat out of the water using a trailer that had hydraulic bunks to lift the boat up and out of the water. That was something to think about as I ate my Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream.

I hung out at the area near the ice cream shop for a while, soaking in the ambiance of the docks, boats, and water. Then it was time to head back to my lodging. There was a hill to climb on Route 27 that rose about 140 feet over two miles with grades up to 6%. The reward was 3 miles downhill after the summit.

The remaining ride west on Route 27 was uneventful and it didn’t feel as long as the ride in the opposite direction in the morning. I had a slight following breeze pushing me toward home. I was moving along so well that I almost missed my turn.

At the end of the day I was happy with my travels. The time that I spent at the beaches, the parks, and the waterfront were rewarding and the food was good. I would recommend this ride to Montauk Point if you are willing to put up with a few miles of Route 27.

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