Location: Farmingville, NY
Size: 102 acres
Date of hike: Feb. 27, 2016
Having lived in the Ronkonkoma area all of my life, I'm surprised that I never noticed Farmingville Hills County Park. Albeit, it's not located in Ronkonkoma – it’s in Farmingville. But I must have passed it so many times while driving on Horseblock Road. It's located on Horseblock, just east of Nicolls Road and across from a post office. Since I like to know the trails close to home, this one jumped right to the top of my to-hike list after I spotted its sign one day.
During my pre-hike research, I didn't find much online information about Farmingville Hills. Oddly enough, it's not even mentioned on the Suffolk County Parks Department's website, which makes me scratch my head. If you ask me, every county park should be posted on the county's website, so that individuals like myself will know that they exist and visit them. The only details I could find were posted on a website called FarmingvilleRocks.com, which described the park as having a large cleared field with access for hiking trails located at the back of that field. The Farmingville Historical Society handles most of the park's goings-on, the website said. The cool thing about this particular webpage is that it shared a variety of hiking safety tips – such as bringing insect spray, staying on marked trails, and carrying a whistle to blow in case you get lost and need help. Obviously, some of these tips weren't necessary for such a small and simple park, but I like the thought. The safer, the better.
The park's parking lot consists of a bumpy patch of dirt big enough to fit up to a dozen cars, I'd say. Upon my arrival, I noticed several people walking their dogs around the cleared field, with a sign urging people to pick up after their animals. The entrance to the hiking trails was at the rear of the field, just as described on FarmingvilleRocks.com. I grabbed my backpack and made my way to the trails, walking atop a few random patches of crooked concrete that were embedded into the ground. An enormous tree also stood right in the middle of the field, like a giant umbrella offering shade on a back patio. The concrete and tree both contributed to the park's unique atmosphere and character, in my opinion. Before disappearing into the trail, I took a photo of the trail map posted on a kiosk. It was sweet to see such a detailed map for such a pint-sized park, and I wished more local parks followed suit in that respect.
There were two loop trails: blue and orange. Ideal colors for a diehard Mets fan like myself. The blue one was shorter, while the orange one went deep into the park. I started with blue and instantly found myself captivated by the park's contours. The hills led me up and down, as if I were on a boat bobbing atop the waves. In addition, the trails were some of the most well-marked I've seen on Long Island. The few times that I drifted onto the unmarked trails, they seemed to lead to an adjacent cluster of homes or residential road. I did notice a few instances of litter – including pots and pans, various car parts, and even a speed-limit sign. It gave me the impression some of the local homeowners might have treated the park as a dumping area, or that some local children might have hung out in the woods at some point.
After the blue loop, I tackled the orange one. But first, I set my iPod to play Redemption's new album The Art of Loss. It just came out on the previous day, so this was my first time sinking my teeth into it. For those who know me, Redemption is one of my top progressive metal bands – with guitarist Nick Van Dyk's lyrics impacting me on a deep emotional level. The album's highlight is a song called "Thirty Silver," which has guest solos by three former Megadeth guitarists. I must've listened to the track five times in a row in Farmingville Hills. It's safe to say that I'll likely think of the park whenever I hear that sick tune in the future.
All in all, I'd say there are more exciting hiking spots than Farmingville Hills, but it's a great place if you live locally and are seeking a quick escape into nature. I also recommend it if you're a dog lover or a dog owner. Chances are, you might even find a new friend for Fido.