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Rockwood Hall at Sleepy Hollow
This loop hike follows carriage roads around this park, formerly the home of William Rockefeller, with gentle grades and panoramic views over the Hudson River.
Allowed on leash
Views, Historic feature
Rockefeller State Park Preserve map
Take the New York State Thruway over the Tappan Zee Bridge, and get off at the first exit, Exit 9. Turn right at the top of the ramp onto US 9 (South Broadway), and continue north on US 9 through the Village of Tarrytown. After 1.7 miles, you'll come to a complex intersection where you should bear left to continue on US 9. In another 1.8 miles (3.5 miles from the Thruway exit), immediately after crossing under NY 117, turn right at a sign for "Rockwood Road," and follow the ramp onto NY 117. After reaching a stop sign, continue ahead through an intersection, following the sign to "Kendal on Hudson," pass an exit from a parking area on the left, then turn left at the entrance to the parking area.
Rockwood Hall is the site of the former summer home of William Rockefeller (1841-1922), brother of John D. Rockefeller. In 1886, he purchased Rockwood, a 200-acre estate, and built Rockwood Hall, a mansion with 204 rooms. Frederick Law Olmsted designed the landscape, which includes many ornamental trees. Following Rockefeller's death in 1922, the estate was converted into a country club, which soon went bankrupt. In 1937, the property was acquired by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., William's nephew, who arranged for the mansion to be razed in 1941-42.
The Rockefeller family donated Rockwood Hall to New York State in 1999, and it now forms a part of Rockefeller State Park Preserve. Although the buildings are gone, the foundations remain, and the carriage roads that were constructed by the Rockefeller family offer an opportunity for a delightful stroll through the property, with panoramic views over the Hudson River. Bicycles are not allowed, and while equestrians are permitted (with a permit), a recent visit indicates that the carriage roads are rarely used by horses. Although not blazed, the roads followed by this hike are easily followed.
From the western end of the parking area, follow the crosswalk across the paved entrance road, bear right onto a paved road (closed to traffic) and continue uphill on a gravel road. At the top of the climb, bear right onto another road, surfaced with paving stones, soon reaching a spectacular viewpoint over the Hudson River.
After passing a huge weeping beech tree, a path diverges to the right, but continue ahead, passing stone foundation walls to the right. These walls are all that remains of William Rockefeller's huge mansion. As you approach the highest point along the road, the views of the Hudson River broaden, and you can see the Tappan Zee Bridge to the left, beyond the Kendal on Hudson retirement community. For the best views, you'll want to walk across the grassy area to the low stone wall that overlooks the river.
You may hear the sound of trains directly below you. Metro-North's Hudson Line runs along the east shore of the river, and you can clearly hear (but not see) the passing trains (you'll be able to see them later on in the hike).
After taking in the view, continue ahead along the road, which descends in a sweeping curve, bordered by stone walls. At the next intersection, turn left. Almost immediately, you'll reach a Y-intersection. Here, you should take the right fork. You're now following a gravel road that climbs very gently, soon coming out on a grassy field (to the right).
The road crosses another wooded area and emerges onto an open expanse, with grassy areas on both sides, and the Hudson River again visible through the trees on the left. Continue along the road, which curves sharply to the right at the end of the grassy area and reenters the woods.
When the gravel road ends at a locked gate, turn left onto the paved Rockwood Road and follow it downhill. Immediately after crossing a concrete bridge over Rockwood Hall Brook, turn left at a gate, then continue ahead on a gravel road, as another road departs to the right. The gravel road proceeds through a ravine studded with rhododendron, crossing five bridges over the brook in close succession. Continue to follow the road, which parallels the brook, until you approach the shore of the Hudson River.
A bench has been placed along the trail here, and this is a good place to take a break and enjoy the panoramic north-facing view, with Croton Point jutting out into the river. The railroad tracks are now visible below, and you may see a Metro-North or Amtrak train zoom by.
Continue along the gravel road, which now heads south, with a grassy slope to the left and the river to the right. As you proceed, you can see the river through the trees.
After passing a huge oak tree to the left, you'll come to a fork. Here, you should bear right and continue heading south along the river. Soon, you'll see stone walls above a grassy slope to the left. These walls mark the site of the Rockefeller mansion that you passed by earlier on the hike.
At the southern end of the Rockwood Hall property (marked by a number of evergreen trees), there are panoramic views up and down the Hudson River. Another bench has been placed here, and you may wish to pause once more to enjoy the views.
Continue along the gravel road, which bears left and begins to head east. At the next intersection, a path to the right leads into the Kendal on Hudson property, but you should continue ahead on the gravel road, which winds uphill. Upon reaching another path which heads into Kendal on Hudson, bear left and continue uphill on a gravel road bordered by stone walls. At the next intersection, bear right and head down to the parking area where the hike began.
To view a photo collection for this hike, click here.