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Whether visiting to get some exercise, learn something new, observe wildlife or simply unplug, the 305-acre Quogue Wildlife Refuge offers a tranquil setting where nature and history collide.
Seven miles of trails wind through tidal wetlands, swamps, deciduous forest and pine barrens, where visitors report sightings of chipmunks, snapping turtles and bald eagles. The 3.1 mile red loop winds through the ecologically rare ‘dwarf pines,’ which are only found in two other places besides the Long Island Pine Barrens: the New Jersey Pinelands and Shawangunk Ridge upstate New York.
The sanctuary also houses several permanently injured wildlife that have been deemed unreleasable, including tortoises, hawks, foxes, owls and most recently, a groundhog.
History buffs should make sure to enter the ice harvesting exhibit located near the refuge entrance. Before the refuge was founded in 1934, Old Ice Pond was used for ice harvesting by the Quogue Ice Company.
The advent of refrigeration marked an end for the Quogue Ice Company, and the property was eventually preserved by a group of local duck hunters concerned about the decline of waterfowl in the area.
Visitors to the refuge are also encouraged to venture across the street to the recently renovated Fairy Dell Boardwalk. The elevated boardwalk was rebuilt last year after the original was destroyed by superstorm Sandy in 2012. The winding path terminates at three different decks which all offer a glimpse of Quantuck Creek.
The Charles Banks Belt Nature Center offers panoramic views of the pond, as well as various wildlife exhibits, reptiles and a gift shop for visitors. The refuge also hosts programs for all ages at the nature center including yoga on Wednesdays, a full moon night hike on Dec. 11, winter birding session on Jan. 11 and two “light the night” winter trail walks on Jan. 25 and Feb 14.
For more information and a full guide to upcoming events, visit quoguewildliferefuge.org.