I was greeted this morning at Rockwood Hall, a portion of Rockefeller State Park with expansive, gorgeous views of the Hudson, by the pleasant surprise of a big group of folks ready for the hike. I must say that I wasn’t expecting such a crowd this morning with the short-notice schedule change. So, first off, thanks to all of you who joined us for what turned out to be a really glorious walk.
As a sidebar, I just want to take a minute to talk about Rockefeller. I find myself cringing a bit when I write about yet another visit to the park. “For goodness sake,” I fret, “people are going to think you don’t go anywhere else on these hikes.” I do admit that other sites have been sandwiched between Rockefeller visits these past weeks, but for good reason. The preserve is comprised of 1,233 acres of land donated by the Rockefellers to the NY State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation in 1983. It is an enormous park with what feels like a neverending network of trails running throughout. Couple that with the pace at which children walk, and you have an excellent resource for ever-new hikes with kids!The most notable feature of the Preserve is the system of carriage roads built by John D. Rockefeller Sr. and John D. Rockefeller Jr. Designed to complement the landscape, these carriage roads are quite similar to those which wend their way through Acadia National Park in Maine, which were designed and financed by John D. Rockefeller Jr. between 1913 and 1940. Rockefeller State Park hosts a network of scenic paths that wind through wetlands, woodlands, meadows, and fields and past streams, rivers, and lakes. One road passes by the foundation of Rockwood Hall, once the 220-room home of William Rockefeller, the landscape of which was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead. This was the site of today’s walk.
As planned, we spent the majority of the time with the kids playing by the old foundation. The views from here are amazing, and the two Sargent Hemlock trees lend themselves beautifully to climbing. For about a half an hour the trees were home to 20-something swarming children scrambling like monkeys to roost in the branches, peering above the evergreen crowns at the parents chatting below.
The trees also served as a cozy shelter for the cold wind blowing over the river, and we soon decided it was time to start moving, both for a change of scenery and a chance to warm up. We continued down the trail toward the river before heading back to the trailhead and the busy Saturday afternoon which awaited many. Nice way to start the weekend and a good way to beat the coming snow.