Farmingville Hills County Park

Location: Farmingville, NY

Size: 105 acres 

Date of hike: Feb. 27, 2016

Farmingville Hills County Park is a hilly hiking spot with two short loops of trails.  Having lived in the Ronkonkoma area all my life, I'm surprised I never noticed the park before.  Albeit, it's not in Ronkonkoma, it's in Farmingville.  But I probably passed it dozens, even hundreds, of times while driving on Horseblock Road.  Since I like to know all the trails close to home, this little park climbed right to the top of my to-hike list after I'd glimpsed its sign one day. 

Prior to hiking, I did some research to familiarize myself with the park's history and habitats.  Apparently, the land was purchased by Suffolk County during the 1980s as part of the Open Space Preservation Act and officially opened to the public in 2010, according to the Suffolk County Parks Department's website.  "The park features a large open area of grass where events take place, as well as 1.2 miles of hiking trails with hilly terrain," the website said.  "There is parking for about a dozen vehicles."  Interestingly, the same website linked to a map featuring two miles of trails – not 1.2 miles – but we'll get to that later.  The park also sits aside the Greek Revival-style Bald Hill Schoolhouse, which was built in 1850, and the first schoolmaster's house called the Terry House, which was built in 1823.  Both are under the jurisdiction of the Farmingville Historical Society.  As for the park's entrance, it's located along the north side of Horseblock Road, across the street from the Farmingville Post Office.

Upon my arrival, I observed several people walking their dogs around the large grassy field, along with signs telling them to curb their pets.  The trails begin by the back of the big field, just as described on the website FarmingvilleRocks.com.  I grabbed my gear and made my way to the trailhead, walking atop a few patches of crooked and cracked concrete that were embedded into the grassy field.  An enormous tree also stood right in the middle of the field, like a giant umbrella offering shade on a back patio.  All that was missing was a good book and a relaxing chair.  Before disappearing into the trail, I snapped a quick picture of the trail map posted on a kiosk.  It was nice to see such a thorough map for such a pint-sized park, and I wished more local parks followed suit in that respect.  It's a simple, yet helpful, thing.

The trail starts with a short path marked with yellow blazes.  That leads to a blue loop trail, and the blue loop leads to an orange loop trail.  The county's map indicated the blue trail is nine-tenths of a mile and stays along the park's western edge, while the orange one is one mile and explores the park's eastern and northern sections.  I started on blue and instantly found myself captivated by the park's contours.  The hills led me up and down like I were a boat bobbing atop the waves.  The trails were very well-marked too.  The few times I drifted onto unmarked trails, they seemed to lead to a nearby cluster of homes or residential road.

After the blue trail, I set out on 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.  My favorite tune was likely "Thirty Silver," which features three former Megadeth guitarists.

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.

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