Hiking Through Camp Hero

As I mentioned in my post last week, Montauk is one of my favorite places ever. I love that it’s close enough to drive to for the day or for an extended stay - so no matter what time of year, it’s easy to escape the city when you need to.

There are so many little historical sites, restaurants, bars, and fun things to do out in Montauk that I definitely want to tell you all about. Places like Montauk Brewing Co., The Surf Lodge, the Montauk Lighthouse, and Gosman’s are popular destinations for visitors from all over, but what I want to tell you about today is a little off the beaten path.

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Ever watch the Netflix series Stranger Things? If you haven’t you are MISSING OUT, my friend. Basically it has to do with human experimentation, interdimensional travel, a unassuming small town, Dungeons and Dragons, and a spunky group of heroes under the age of 12. It’s fantastic, it’s set in the 80’s, just go watch it.

Photo [ via ]

Photo [via]

Anyway, not a lot of people know this, but Stranger Things is loosely based off of one of my favorite spooky spots in Montauk, Camp Hero State Park. Located on Montauk Highway right before you enter the parking lot for the lighthouse, the sign for Camp Hero almost sneaks up on you, the driveway hidden in a mess of overgrown brush and trees.

It’s a New York State Park, so certain times of the day/year you’ll have to pay $10 to get in, but luckily I’ve always found a way to avoid that and still get to look around this creepy little outpost.

Unless you drive straight past the entrance to go visit the bluff overlook (which has such a beautiful view of the lighthouse and ocean), you can drive through the park to where the real fun stuff is like the radar tower, old battery dunn, and abandoned buildings that housed soldiers and other facilities when it was a military base in the 1940’s.

There’s a lot of really cool history behind Camp Hero and believe me, I could go on and on about not only its recorded history, but the stories and conspiracy theories that surround the abandoned base in the 1980’s, when many have come out and alleged to be a part of various psychological and time travel experiments called The Montauk Project underground.

If you want to dig a little deeper there, Wikipedia isn’t super helpful so visit this Dan’s Papers article where you’ll get a general overview of why this place is so shrouded in mystery.

My favorite thing to do is head straight for the picnic area past the tower to where there are a group of abandoned barracks, bunkers and various buildings (that may or may not be entrances to secret underground facilities). The majority are boarded up with ‘DO NOT ENTER’ plastered anywhere paint would possibly stick. While my love for the lore behind Camp Hero was definitely creating some internal paranoia about the place, something about walking around those ominously silent grounds made me not want to even try to enter.

I’ve been here several times before, but this was the first time I climbed up behind a few of these buildings and saw that one of them was completely broken down in the back, leaving a very accessible opening to a long, dark interior. The reality was the inside of what seemed like this sort of old armory was just covered in tags and debris - no ghosts, demogorgons, or men in white lab coats looking for any willing (or unwilling) human participants. But you better believe I snapped this picture and hauled ass out of there.

One of my favorite stories from last summer was right around this building below, when my friends and I had stopped by after a beach day at Ditch Plains. As we’re wont to do, we were snooping around for openings in these buildings to see what was inside.  

After trying to peek behind a piece of plywood hanging off the back, a gigantic black bird breaks the silence around us and swoops down, almost skimming the top of our heads. I decided, for my own sanity, that it was just an osprey we pissed off by being in its territory, but nevertheless it was terrifying.

Camp Hero is such an awesome place to go if you want to scare yourself and get lost in all those campfire tales, but also if you want to hop on some of the best and unfrequented hiking trails on the eastern end of Long Island.

When I was there last spring, the park was basically empty and the trees were still a little bare, making for a chilling walk up to the bluff overlook, but gave way to arguably one of the most beautiful view of the lighthouse ever. I hope this inspires you guys to go and explore the unseen parts of some more popular destinations - sometimes the creepy, the unknown and even the macabre make for the best stories.

Favorite Hamptons Pit Stops

Long time no see! I know it’s been a minute, but I won't get into a litany of excuses for this procrastination. I’m glad to be back here writing about the spots I’ve visited so far this summer, so without further ado, enjoy!

Because I live so close, I try to head out to Montauk and the Hamptons as much as I can during the summer. Whether it’s for a weekend or just a day trip, I’ve learned that half the fun really is getting there, and some of my favorite road trip memories have been on Montauk Highway, either speeding down the empty road if we’re lucky, or more often than not, stuck in miles and miles of stop and go traffic. I usually stay and hang out the most in Montauk, but there are a couple of pit stops I love making along the way.

On one of my most recent trips out east, my friend Shelby and I were determined to stop at Wolffer Estate Vineyard for a glass of wine and a bite to eat. I’ve fallen in love with their rosé, but have never actually gotten to see the vineyard. You can imagine the deep, dark hole of despair my heart sunk into when we found out it was closed for a wedding that day. Boo.

Photo  [via]

Photo [via]

Luckily, Wolffer has a small shop and eatery right off Rt. 27 simply called “The Wine Stand”, and it turned out to be exactly what we wanted. As you walk up to their small shop right up against the vines, you pass the Rosé Drive Thru outside - their “adult” take on a lemonade stand. It’s ADORABLE, but you actually can’t buy anything from them out there. Instead, you have racks upon racks of wine, cider, and even their new rosé gin to choose from inside.

After picking up a bottle of their rosé table wine to bring home, we ordered two glasses of their new Dry Rosé Cider and sat out on their patio next to the vineyard. Of course, it was only 1 PM so I ended up leaving with a nasty sunburn, but all in all, so worth it.

It really is a great place to relax and get the whole “Wolffer experience” without going up the road to the main estate itself. Quick tip - summer weddings are BIG at Wolffer, so if you plan on doing a tour or visiting their tasting room, definitely call ahead and check if it’s even open.

If you’re a seafood lover like me, our next stop is something of a pilgrimage: The Lobster Roll in Amagansett. Recognizable by its gigantic “LUNCH” sign nestled atop the tiny restaurant in the middle of nowhere, some say it’s where the dish by the same name was pioneered.

The iconic restaurant is a casual eatery with some seating indoors, a covered outdoor area, and an open patio in the back. While some places in the Hamptons and Montauk have become posh - and dare I say pretentious at times - this holds onto the same cozy, no-frills feel that I remember from visits out east when I was a little kid.

There are paper menus, plastic cups, dogs sitting at the patio table next to you, and the smell of the most delicious, fresh local fare wafting from the kitchen behind you. I usually get a lobster roll when I come here, but I decided to change it up and get the fried oyster po'boy which did not disappoint.

To say this place is beloved wouldn’t even really scratch the surface, and it is, in my opinion, a national treasure. Also in case you were wondering, they serve lobster rolls both hot and cold here - the cold is a traditional lobster salad with mayo, veggies and seasonings, and the hot is simply steamed lobster with melted butter drizzled on. Both are incredible, so, you know, go at least twice. Okay I think I’m done fangirling now.

This is more of a no-brainer for any drive through the country, but I really wanted to give farm stands an honorable mention before wrapping up my favorite Hamptons/Montauk pit stops. I love the way they can sneak up on you, and most often have different products every single day - you know, actual farm fresh food (what a concept right???). Aside from great fruits and veggies, I’ve scored some delicious jams, honey, plants and pies depending on the time of year and location. My favorite by far is definitely Bhumi Farms in Amagansett.

Photo  [via]

Photo [via]

Not only is it arguably the most instagram-able stand ever (I mean just LOOK AT IT), but they always have a wide variety of produce and the most gorgeous sunflowers! I’m also a big believer in supporting small businesses, and visiting family farms and farm stands like this is a great way to do that.

The road out to Montauk has so many great things to see whether they’re scenic, historical, or just fun, and I love exploring more every time I drive out there. Which ones did I miss, and which ones are your favorites? Let me know, I’d love to do a Part II!