Location: Melville, NY
Size: 94 acres
Date of hike: Oct. 19, 2018
Dr. Jeffrey Wenig Memorial Park is another hilly hiking spot hidden within a residential neighborhood in Melville. It's the third park I've picked in recent weeks based on its close proximity to my job – with the others being DeForest Nature Park and Butterfly Park – and, like those parks, I discovered Wenig by looking for patches of green on Google Maps. To unwind from the work week, I opted to stop by before heading home on a Friday night.
Wenig Memorial Park was formerly known as Roundtree Park (likely due to it's entrance on Roundtree Road) and was dedicated through parcels created by subdivision modifications to the Town of Huntington, according to the town's online trail guide. "The parkland consists of rolling hills that are at higher elevations than much of Long Island due to their location along the southern edge of the Ronkonkoma Moraine, a remnant of past glacial advances," it said. The park was rededicated in memory of Dr. Jeffrey Wenig, who served as the town's director of environmental protection from 1973-1980 as well as a toxicologist, inventor and developer of pharmaceutical products. Interestingly, twice during his tenure as director, the town won "Beautify America" awards as the leading suburban community in the U.S., the guide said.
The park's main entrance is on Roundtree Road just south of the Long Island Expressway's eastbound service road. There is no parking lot though, so I parked on the roadside in front of a big blue sign displaying the park's name. Although the trail guide indicated the park's one-mile trail starts on Roundtree Road, the path was so faint I couldn't quite make it out. So I drove around to an alternate entrance on Wilmington Drive, east of Sevenoake Road. The trail was much easier to see there, but I should note it cuts through a small parcel of land that belongs to Half Hollow Hills School District before entering Wenig Memorial Park. This piece of the trail also parallels the backyards of some homes located on Elkland Road.
The park consists of mostly oak trees and lowbush blueberries that thrive on the sandy soil, with tracts of pitch pine found on north-facing slopes of the hills, according to the trail guide. As for the trail itself, I followed it straight through the park until I reached the faint trailhead I had a hard time finding earlier along Roundtree Road. It was a relaxing walk that felt like a roller coaster at times due to the undulating hills. The only distraction was the occasional household appliance likely dumped there by local residents. I also chose to go iPod-less, meaning the distant hum of cars passing on the expressway could be heard sometimes.
With regard to wildlife, you'll see everything from American robins to blue jays to mourning doves. Meanwhile, the park's plant and tree life ranges from American chestnuts to black cherries to flowering dogwoods. The area is also known for juvenal's duskywing butterflies, according to the trail guide. Lastly, I should note that I didn't find any ticks on my clothes, nor did I find any at DeForest and Butterfly parks. That's a rare occurrence these days.
By and large, I'd say that Dr. Jeffrey Wenig Memorial Park is worth a stroll if you live nearby. It doesn't have any benches or bodies of water, so it's strictly geared toward individuals who like to hike hills. And, for me, this hilly little hike was the perfect end to a long work week.