Rockefeller State Park Preserve
GOOD FOR: Ages 5-8

Source:Outdoors with Kids New York City (AMC Books)
Address:125 Phelps Way, Pleasantville, NY
Hours:Hours are subject to change. Call ahead for details.
Fee: $6 per vehicle (free with an Empire Passport)
Bathrooms: Parking lot
Water/Snacks: Water fountains at the bathrooms in the parking lot

At Rockefeller State Park Preserve you can enjoy a quiet, pristine walk on a path encircling a looking-glass lake, or try fishing, horseback riding, or cross-country skiing.

A walk around Swan Lake is a pleasant way to enjoy the tranquil setting at Rockefeller State Park.
Photo by: Cheryl and William de Jong-Lambert

“Bucolic,” “manicured,” “austere,” “inviting”—the mind reels at the variety of appealing adjectives one might use to describe the Rockefeller State Park Preserve. The land—topography formed 10,000 years ago by retreating glaciers— was purchased by the Rockefeller family and donated for the creation of a public park in 1983. Visitors can explore a network of trails for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing, enjoy garden walks, or go sledding. The National Audubon Society has designated the park an Important Bird Area because of the more than 180 different species—including blue and yellow- winged warblers, wood thrushes, Baltimore orioles, eastern towhees, and red-bellied woodpeckers—that can be found here.

A walk around Swan Lake is an ideal way to get a feel for the park. The distance is about 2 miles. The sand and graveled paths make easy pushing for strollers, and the landscape is flat enough that kids ages 5 and up will have no problem. Enter the trail behind the visitor center and head south counterclockwise around the lake. In summer your kids will spot lily pads. The steepness of the shore leading from the path down to the lake is relatively mild and manageable.

A longer (3-mile) and more rustic option is to follow Overlook Trail west, just before you arrive at Swan Lake following the path from the visitor center. After just more than a mile, you will encounter Ash Tree Loop connecting from the north. Follow the loop about a quarter-mile to Farm Meadow Trail. Follow Farm Meadow Trail back northeast to the southern end of Swan Lake. Visitors can also fish for bass on Swan Lake and brown trout in the Pocantico River, or go horseback riding (permits are required for both). Remember: Dogs must be leashed at all times.

Plan B:

Thirteen Bridges Trail and Pocantico Trail, just farther south along NY 117, are great spots for hiking. The latter is also popular for horseback riding.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Numerous shops and restaurants are in Sleepy Hollow, which you’ll drive through on your way to the park.


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