Shadmoor State Park

A half mile east of the village on Montauk Highway, lies a 99 acre state park with a 2,400 feet of ocean frontage. Tall clay cliffs plunge down to a pebble strewn beach. From the bluffs the rugged Atlantic Ocean stretches as far as the horizon from the bluffs, with lines of waves unfolding and rolling to the shore. 

Shadmoor only became a state park on October 13, 2000, through the combined efforts of the local population who wanted to preserve this piece of Montauk for all to enjoy.

Shadmoor gets its name from its geography, which is moorland, and the shadbush, which grows there. The shadbush, Montauk's horticultural star during May, softly transforms our hills for a few short weeks with its pink and white flowers and lovely delicate perfumes.

Shadmoor is crossed with trails, some of which were used for herding animals before 1879 by the East Hampton farmers, or proprietors, who drove the animals on Montauk in May, and off in November. After Montauk was sold in 1879, its days as pasture land for cows and sheep ended. For the remainder of that venture, and in to the 1940's, no one paid much attention to Shadmoor.

When the U.S. entered World War II, the Army erected two bunkers to use as coastal artillery fire control stations. The country was particularly concerned about German submarines off Long Island's east end, and equipped these bunkers with 15-inch guns trained on offshore waters.

After the Army left, Shadmoor was unused except by those in the know who enjoyed walks along its wind-swept cliffs and old trails, and local kids who played in the bunkers.

Shadmoor was purchased by two land developers in the 1980's with plans to subdivide and build houses on these bluffs. However, the Town of East Hampton, Suffolk County, New York State and the Nature Conservancy joined forces and purchased the property for $17.3 million in 2000. The Town operates and maintains the park, and the Nature Conservancy manages the conservation efforts.

If you are coming by car, park by the Shadmoor State Park sign, as vehicles are not allowed in the park. Dirt roads throughout make it an easy (though sometimes much) walk. Quickly into the park you will find a fork in in the road. Both forks lead to the bluffs. You will see shad trees and thickets and will pass by the old bunkers. 

About 30% is freshwater wetlands with several small ponds hidden in the thickets. Trails and  lead to the bluffs from the entrance on Montauk Highway. Once on the bluffs, the property becomes rolling landscapes, covered with shad, wild cherry trees, and other shrubs kept low by wind-driven salt spray that dries out foliage and stunts growth.

The rarest plant in New York State grows here, the Sandplain Gerardia, a member of the snapdragon family, and a low growing wild flower that bears delicate pink flowers in August and/or September. Shammer's wetlands and small ponds provide an important habitat for migratory and nesting birds.

As you walk out on the bluffs you will see the rocky beach below, and great vistas of sea and rolling waves to the south. The bluffs are particularly fluted with vertical, sharp parallel ridges dropping dramatically from a height of nearly 70 feet into the Atlantic Ocean.

At some points on the bluffs, you will also see Ditch Plain Beah and the Association Houses to the east (the famous Stanford White houses built in the 1800's), and Long Island Sound and Connecticut to the north. 

Take care not to walk to the edges of the cliffs; the edges are narrow shelves that can collapse and send you falling to the beach below. For a trail map go here: