Location: Melville, NY
Size: 38 acres
Date of hike: Oct. 5, 2018
Butterfly Park, also known as Farmington Lane Park, is a small and hilly hiking spot in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Melville. I came across it last month while searching for patches of green near my job on Google Maps. For starters, I should note that the park doesn't seem to be some sort of butterfly hotspot, so I'm not really sure why it's named after the winged insect. My only guess is that it seems to be vaguely shaped like a butterfly when looking at a map.
Butterfly Park is located just west of Bagatelle Road between Tamara and Sorrel Hill courts, with multiple entrances found on Farmington Lane near its intersection with Chiswell Drive. While the parcel is often used for nature walks, it's mostly known for its geological history, according to the Town of Huntington's online trail guide. "The park sits on the mid-island Manhasset plateau of the Ronkonkoma Moraine and is an ideal example of the effects of melting glaciers," the guide stated. "Glacial deposits, along with stream-caused erosion, helped to shape the park's hilly terrain." The Town of Huntington acquired the land as the result of several subdivisions from 1966 to 1973 and the town board later dedicated it as a park-preserve in 1980. It also contains a segment of the original Vanderbilt Motor Parkway.
To my surprise, there isn't a "Butterfly Park" sign at the entrance, making this the second Town of Huntington park I've found without a sign. The first one was Fuchs Pond Preserve. However, I did see a green "Town of Huntington Parkland" sign near a trail leading into the woods on Farmington Lane. I parked along the roadside there opposite a string of homes. The town's trail guide said the park has a 0.8-mile loop, but I opted to just wander around. Unfortunately, I hiked out of the park within minutes as my geocaching app showed I was heading south toward Colonial Springs Road. I turned around when that trail faded out in between Chataeu Drive and the Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts in Wheatley Heights.
Upon reentering the park, I went east parallel to the backyards of homes on Walker Place, Kallenberger Drive and Springs Drive until I reached a pond enclosed by a chain-link fence. From there, I hiked north and east over a paved access road to the park's eastern section, which is where there's a segment of the old Vanderbillt Motor Parkway. If you're looking to specifically visit the parkway site, it might be easier to park at the intersection of Bagatelle Road and Sorrel Hill Court and follow the power lines a short distance west into the woods.
The park's plants and trees range from flowering dogwoods to poplars to red and white oaks, while birds range from Carolina wren to gray catbirds to downy and red-bellied woodpeckers. Other wildlife consists of eastern chipmunks, eastern cottontails and eastern gray squirrels. As for music, I decided to go iPod-less this time and just enjoy the sweet sounds of nature.
Overall, I'd say that Butterfly Park is a cool spot to visit if you live in the area and are craving an escape into nature. While I'm not usually a fan of paths that border backyards, this park had enough isolated areas to make it worthwhile for me. But it still needs an entrance sign!