Rockefeller State Park: Rockwood

It is adjacent to the Rockefeller State Park Preserve and is part of the original William Rockefeller estate.


Henry Hudson Parkway north into Saw Mill River Parkway north; get off at the exit for Hawthorn; turn left at the signal light onto Route 9A north; drive to the first exit, on the left, the one for Route 117 west; turn left at the light; follow the road to its end (for Rockwood); keep driving straight; the road will dead end right at the guard rail blocking further travel for the cars. Park.  The entrance trail begins behind the guard rail.

History of Rockwood Hall (part of Rockefeller Preserve):

Rockwood Hall, the former estate of William Rockefeller, is located in the Rockefeller preserve (Rockwood Hall State Park, Rockwood Hall Rd., (Rt. 117) Sleepy Hollow).

The land was part of the estate acquired by the Philipse Family.

After the Revolutionary War -- the land passed to the Beekmans and was known as "Beekman's Forest."

1840's -- 150 acres in the hands of Catherine A. S. Mackenzie.

1848 -- the land sold to Edwin Bartlett, who, with two other men and William N. Aspinwall, founded the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. English architect Gervase Wheeler builds the English Gothic Rockwood castle for Bartlett on the Hudson River.

1860 -- for $100,000 Bartlett sells the property to his partner William Aspinwall, who constantly improved the mansion. (William Aspinwall's son, John S., owned the property to the north of Rockwood and he acquired the Rockwood mansion upon the death of his father.) 

1866 -- William Rockefeller (1841-1922), brother of John D. Rockefeller, joined him in the oil business.

1882 -- William Rockefeller becomes president of Standard Oil of New York.

1886 -- William Rockefeller purchases "Bartlett's Castle" for $150,000 and has it torn down. (The material went into the building of two stables.) He then created the 1,000-acre estate Rockwood Hall -- with 204 rooms the mansion was said to be the finest country seat in America. Rockefeller lived here in the late 1800s, installing extensive carriage trails and many ornamental trees. The house site is on a hill overlooking the Hudson River with a great view. After William Rockefeller's death, the estate passed to nephew, John D. Rockefeller Jr.

1946 -- Rockwood Hall passes to one of the sons of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Laurance Rockefeller (1910- ).

1998 -- Governor George E. Pataki announces the State of New York will acquire 88-acre Rockwood Hall as a park on the Hudson River in the town of Mount Pleasant (a gift from the Laurance S. Rockefeller Fund). The park's landscape was due to landscape architecture Frederick Lloyd Olmsted. The only remaining part of the estate was an outer retaining wall.


large beautiful lawns/fields, brook, woods edge; small Phragmites marsh


walking, birding and hiking


The property has several miles of trails, carriage roads and bridges all leading throughout the estate grounds and overlooking the Tappan Zee. There are magnificent views down the Hudson River to New York City and up to Bear Mountain and 35 acres of underwater lands.


10/07/04.  On an absolutely  beautiful day, my son Carl, dog Sonar and I parked by the guard rail at the dead end of Route 117.  The starting trail is the Foundation Loop.  Continuing to the right it heads into the Upper Trail.  The Upper Trail forms the upper semicircular trail overlooking the second, parallel semicircular trail downhill from it and next to the Hudson River.  This is the Lower Trail.  The Middle Trail connects the Upper Trail with the Lower Trail about half-way between the course of the two trails.

The northern part of the Lower Trail is the Rockwood Hall Brook Trail.  It connects to the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail. 

We started out on the Foundation Loop bearing right past the start of the Lower Trail on the left.  We walked up to the Foundation Area.  There are nice views of the Tappan Zee Bridge and the Palisades from here.  Walked on past the Middle Trail that connects with the Lower Trail.  The trail curves to the right again and we are walking along a stream on the left.  Before reaching the private road, we take an informal path on the left down to the stream and the Rockwood Hall Brook Trail.  There are a series of bridges across the stream.  The area is ravine like and very pretty.  The Rockwood Hall Brook Trail curves to the left and turns into the Lower Trail that heads along the cliff down from which are the railroad tracks.  At the southern end of the Lower Trail it curves left to head east past a large apartment complex on the right.  The trail comes to a T-intersection with the Foundation Loop.  We turn left and return to the parking lot.  Dr. Patrick L. Cooney.

Dr. Patrick L. Cooney

Acer negundo (box elder maple)
Acer platanoides (Norway maple)
Acer pseudoplatanus (sycamore maple)
Acer rubrum (red maple) 
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Ailanthus altissima (tree-of-heaven)
Aralia spinosa (Hercules club)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Betula nigra (river birch) planted
Carya glabra (pignut hickory)
Carya sp. (hickory)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fagus sylvatica (European beech)
Fagus sylvatica var. (weeping European beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Ilex aquifolium (English holly)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Magnolia spp. (magnolia) planted
Morus alba (white mulberry)
Nyssa sylvatica (tupelo)
Picea abies (Norway spruce)
Picea glauca (blue spruce)
Pinus rigida (pitch pine)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Pyrus sp. (crab apple)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus palustris (pin oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Taxus sp. (American yew)
Tilia americana (American basswood)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)
Tsuga canadensis var. (weeping hemlock) planted
Ulmus americana (American elm)
Ulmus rubra (slippery elm)

Shrubs and sub-shrubs:
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Euonymus alatus (winged euonymus)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch-hazel)
Leucothoe sp. (leucothoe) probably planted
Ligustrum sp. (privet)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Lonicera morrowii (morrow's honeysuckle)
Rhododendron maximum (rosebay rhododendron)
Rhodotypos scandens (jet bead)
Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry raspberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry)
Salix discolor (pussy willow)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburnum)
Vinca minor (periwinkle)

Akebia quinata (akebia) lots of it; forms a large ground cover in some areas
Ampelopsis brevipedunculata (porcelain berry) lots
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asian bittersweet) lots
Hedera helix (English ivy)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis sp. (grape)
Wisteria sp. (wisteria)

Acalypha sp. (three-seeded mercury)
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)
Ambrosia trifida (giant ragweed)
Ampelopsis bracteata (hog peanut)
Anthriscus sylvestris (wild chervil) ?
Apocynum cannabinum (Indian hemp dogbane)
Arctium minus (common burdock)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)
Aster cordifolius (heart-leaved aster) 10/07/04
Aster divaricatus (white wood aster) 10/07/04
Bidens sp. (a 3 lflet beggar tick)
Boehmeria cylindrica (false nettle)
Chenopodium album (pigweed)
Cichorium intybus (chicory) 10/07/04
Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle)
Collinsonia canadensis (horsebalm)
Commelina communis (Asiatic dayflower)
Conyza canadensis (horseweed)
Cryptotaenia canadensis (honewort)
Duchesnea indica (Indian strawberry)
Epifagus virginiana (beech drops)
Epilobium coloratum (purple-leaved willow herb)
Erigeron annuus (daisy fleabane) 10/07/04
Eupatorium rugosum (white snake root) 10/07/04
Euphorbia cyparissias (cypress spurge)
Glechoma hederacea (gill-over-the-ground)
Hackelia virginiana (Virginia stickseed) 
Hieracium caespitosum (field hawkweed) 10/07/04
Impatiens capensis (orange jewelweed) 10/07/04
Leonurus cardiaca (motherwort)
Lepidium virginicum (poor man's pepper)
Linaria vulgaris (butter and eggs) 10/07/04
Ludwigia palustris (common water plantain)
Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife)
Myosotis scorpioides (larger forget-me-not) 10/07/04
Oxalis sp. (yellow wood sorrel) 10/07/04
Phytolacca americana (pokeweed) 10/07/04
Pilea pumila (clearweed)
Plantago lanceolata (English plantain)
Plantago major (common plantain)
Polygonum cespitosum (cespitose smartweed) 10/07/04
Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)
Polygonum hydropiper (water pepper) 10/07/04
Polygonum persicaria (lady's thumb) ?  10/07/04
Polygonum sagittatum (arrow-leaved tearthumb)
Polygonum virginianum (Virginia knotweed)
Prunella vulgaris (self-heal)
Rumex crispus (curled dock)
Rumex obtusifolius (broad-leaved dock)
Silene vulgaris (bladder campion) 10/07/04
Solanum carolinense (horse nettle) 10/07/04
Solanum dulcamara (bittersweet nightshade)
Solidago bicolor (silverrod goldenrod) 10/07/04
Solidago caesia (blue-stemmed goldenrod) 10/07/04
Solidago canadensis (Canada goldenrod) 10/07/04
Solidago gigantea (late goldenrod) 10/07/04
Solidago rugosa (rough-stemmed goldenrod) 10/07/04
Stylophorum diphyllum (celandine poppy) ?
Taraxacum officinale (dandelion) 10/07/04
Trifolium pratense (red clover) 10/07/04
Trifolium repens (white clover) 10/07/04
Urtica dioica var. procera (tall nettle)
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)
Verbena urticifolia (white vervain)
Viola sororia (common blue violet)

Juncus effusus (soft rush)
Juncus tenuis (path rush)

Carex lurida (sallow sedge)
Carex ovales type (ovales type sedge)
Cyperus strigosus (nut sedge)
Scirpus atrovirens (dark-green bulrush)

Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Digitaria sp. (crabgrass)
Echinochloa crus-gallii (barnyard grass)
Eleusine indica (zipper grass)
Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass)
Panicum clandestinum (deer-tongue panic grass)
Panicum dichotomiflorum (fall panic grass)
Paspalum sp. (bead grass)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
Setaria faberi (nodding foxtail grass)
Setaria glauca (yellow foxtail grass)
Tridens flavus (purple top grass)
Schizachyrium scoparium (little blue stem grass)

Ferns and Fern Allies:
Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern)
Athyrium thelypteroides (silvery glade fern)
Cystopteris fragilis (fragile fern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)