Easy Hiking For Kids At Rockefeller State Park Preserve
With wide open paths and gentle slopes, Rockefeller State Park Preserve is an ideal spot to take Lil’ Sprouts just mastering the art of hiking. The park is a short ride away on the Metro-North Railroad, the perfect distance for a kids’ day trip out of New York City and one that doesn’t take too much hassle to get to, even if you don’t have a car. (Take the train to Hawthorne Station on the Harlem line, and then a short cab from there to the preserve.)
The more than 1,400 acres boast a number of traditional outdoor activities: fishing and picnic spots in the summer, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter. For those interested in birding, the National Audubon Society has designated the park an Important Bird Area. Beyond birds, wildlife is always close at hand in the park: plump chipmunks hover at the edge of the path, waiting to rush across; deer blandly graze between the trees; and the lake is rife with fish.
For those looking for an afternoon to simply enjoy the natural environs, wide, scenic, graveled paths (carriage roads built during the first half of the 20th century) guide visitors around the park, keeping them clear of heavy forests (where ticks can be a danger) and on well cleared walkways out of the reach of poison ivy. The hiking trails range from even to moderate grade, including one known as “13 Bridges Loop Trail”, which (as the name implies) guides visitors over 13 different bridges along Gory Brook.
If you’re seeking a spot to just pause, rest, and enjoy the quiet peace of your surroundings, make a stop at Swan Lake, where discrete benches are tucked beneath trees along the water (just be sure to pack your mosquito repellant!).
In addition to the main entrance along Phelps Way, the park is accessible by two paths through Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture– a good place to start or end your hike with a delicious meal (the pistachio cakes are not to be missed). Plus, if you don’t get reception in the park, you can also ask the friendly crew at Stone Barns to ring up a taxi to take you back to the station (trust us, Stone Barns is a stop you’ll want to make).
To reach Rockefeller State Park Preserve, take the Metro-North train to Hawthorne Station on the Harlem line and then call a cab.