I spent a day last weekend exploring two parks in the Huntington area. The first was Manor Farm Park. According to a brochure published by the town of Huntington, this park was an exotic animal farm prior to its purchase by the town in 2000. After its purchase, the house located on the grounds was restored to its 1860 appearance. The house was surrounded by a large expanse of lawn, dotted with some large Black Locusts trees. In one corner, sunflowers were being cultivated for a sunflower maze. I decided to spend my time exploring the trails behind the house.
The trails were nicely shaded, giving some relief from the heat of the day. The trees here were mostly Oaks and Maples. This was a nice contrast to the Pine Barrens, where I usually walk. I even found lots of small trees that looked like Chestnuts. I was hoping that I was witnessing a recovery of these trees, but alas, on closer examination with my field guide, I discovered that they were Chestnut Oaks.
The forest floor consisted mostly of ferns or Virginia Creepers. During my ramble, I also found some flowering American Wintergreen and also spotted the occasional False Solomon Seal, now gone to seed.
When I completed my wandering through the trails at Manor Farm, I headed over to West Hills County Park. It was my intention to conquer Jayne Hill, the “high peak” of Long Island at 400 feet. Rather than park down by the public area and hike up the hill, I followed my guide up a steep residential street that ended at the upper end of the park. From there we walked about 20 minutes before reaching the summit of Jayne Hill. Don’t tell my Adirondack High Peak fans that I did not hike from the lowest point, they will probably claim that this was cheating! As far as I’m concerned, it counts, I bagged the high peak of Long Island!
At the top of Jayne Hill, there is a boulder bearing a plaque with an excerpt from Walt Whitman. One of Long Island’s poets, Walt Whitman was born in Huntington and as a result, many places (including the local mall) bear his name. The Walt Whitman trail begins at his birthplace and wanders through West Hills County Park before terminating at Jayne Hill. I sat on a nearby bench contemplating the poetry for a short time. Fortunately, the side of the boulder facing the bench had not yet been marred with the graffiti covering the rest of this stone, so I could imagine for a short time that all was beautiful and peaceful.
We selected a different trail as we left the summit. This path deposited us on the road further up from where we had left our cars. Walking down to our cars, we noticed plenty of Knapweed along the roadside. I ended the day, satisfied that I had been able to cross an item off my “bucket list”, even if I did cheat a little.