Road Trip: This Summer, Go Off the Beaten Path  

Explore Rockefeller State Park Preserve & Ride like a billionaire

At the intersection of fortune and philanthropy lies Rockefeller State Park Preserve, a century-old landscape of woodland and wetland, hills and meadows, sewn together by 55 miles of carriage roads.

            The roads were built by John D. Rockefeller Jr., son of the founder of Standard Oil, who shared with his father a passion for coaching. Designed to complement the landscape, the carriage roads wind beneath towering trees, through forests rich in wildlife, traversing streams and rivers on wood and stone spans including the first triple-arch bridge in America.

              Since 1983, 1,600 acres of this grand country estate, in the Westchester County hamlet of Pleasantville, have been open to the public

– a gift to New York from the Rockefeller

family. The roads are open year-round to

riding and carriage driving, a rare chance

to step into the Gilded Age, and the

shoes – even if it’s only the horseshoes –

of America’s first billionaires.

             Grab a trail map and trot past the

foundation of Rockwood Hall, once the

220-room home of William Rockefeller.

Meander through the snags and hollows

along 13 Bridges Loop Trail and the

hemlocks of Witch’s Spring Trail.  Wherever you wander, do it in style. John D. would approve.

            First things first: Equestrian and carriage driving permits are required and are available at the Preserve Office along with trail maps showing the distance and grade descriptions of all the carriage roads. An annual equestrian permit is $40; an empire passport is $65 for the season or $6 per visit and is required for trailering horses. A one-day equestrian pass is $15, plus the vehicle entry fee.

            Keep an eye out for:  An architectural and engineering wonder of the 1830s, the Old Croton Aqueduct was built to bring fresh water from the Croton River to New York City. Look for 0.9 miles of the old aqueduct at the western edge of the Rockefeller Preserve.

            Birds and the bees: The preserve is designated an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society, with 180 species recorded on the property. The old trees that line the forest trails provide nests for bluebirds, owls, woodpeckers and wood ducks. The occasional flying squirrel also swings through the canopy. The park’s 22-acre Swan Lake attracts migrating buffleheads, hooded mergansers, and the occasional loon.

            While you’re there: Don’t just drive around Swan Lake, get a license and fish for bass – in season, of course. Prefer brown trout? Drop a line in the Pocantico River, where it traverses the preserve. In late April and early May, the landscape blossoms with 2,500 tree peonies, a post-9/11 gift from Japan.

            Food service: There is no picnicking allowed in the area of the carriage trails. There are, however, several picnic tables opposite the equestrian parking lot located just before the entrance to the general parking area. Open fires are strictly prohibited.

            Special health note:  For horses that have not had the Flu/Rhino vaccine, the park has the following instructions: Don’t use the trails if your horse shows any signs of illness. Don’t let your horse graze. Do not let your horse come in contact with other horses or any farm animals in the park. Contact park officials if your horse shows any symptoms within a week of using the preserve.
            Hours: The Preserve is open year round, from 7a.m. to sunset. The park office is open from 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., closed Christmas Day. Phone 914-631-1470.







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Featured Story
Planning a Day at the Races?
Some fashionable tips if you're Saratoga bound

By Alan Singh

For over a hundred years, the race track has been a place for elegance, style and high society. In the early days, it was all top hats and fur stoles. Today’s fashions are more relaxed, but some things haven’t changed:  At Saratoga, the dress is

stylish, and hats rule.

 What does that mean? There's a strict

dress code still enforced at the track and

once you've got that, we have tips on

what to wear for today’s

stylish racegoer.

The main thing to remember about dressing

for Saratoga race track is that the code

varies depending on where you sit.

In the grandstand fashion is casual,

with jeans and polo shirts

dominating; in the Box Suites and Rail

Pavillion the rules are strict and specific.

So let’s go through the seating areas 

as explained by the official Saratoga site.

 Grandstand: Attire in the grandstand is

informal. There is only one rule: shirts and

shoes are mandatory.

Clubhouse: The main concern here is that you don’t show too much skin: No short shorts, cut-offs, tank tops or other revealing garments.

Luxury Suites: Again,

no short or revealing

garments and no tank tops

Bold colors and patterns

are popular trackside,

but not mandatory.

Box Seats: No jeans,

shorts or revealing

clothes are permitted.

Men should wear

suits or sports jackets

(ties are not required).

For women,dresses,

skirts or pants outfits.

The Rail Pavilion,

The Porch, Club Terrace & Carousel Restaurant: Basically, the same rules apply as in the Box

Seats. But there's a caveat: According to the Saratoga dress code “Proper attire is at management's discretion,” so tread with care!

Turf Terrace: The dress code recommends “Neat Casual Attire”. For men, collared shirts are required, and no shorts of any kind, t-shirts or jeans are allowed. Women should wear dresses, skirts or pants outfits. Again, “the management at the racetrack reserves the right to use discretion on what is neat casual attire.”

A note about hats: Hats are not required in any part of the track, but the dress code does encourage them, stating “[hats] are still very much a tradition at this famed racetrack… and many choose to honor these cherished traditions.”

Tips for the stylish racegoer

Ready to try the 'full Saratoga' without looking as if you just wandered off the set of a movie?

1. Women should choose shoes that are comfortable and grass-friendly, like sandals, block heels, ballet pumps or wedges. Avoid stilettos, and if there is a chance of rain, stay away from suede or pale color shoes - useful advice for men too!

2. Race track dress codes have one running

theme for both women and men; cover up.

So even if you are in the grandstand,

covering your thighs,

chest and shoulders will give you a classier,

box-ready look.

3. For men, ties should complement

the shirt and jacket combination, and be

matched with a pocket square. And just

because a tie is a fairly formal item, doesn’t

mean it has to be plain or boring. Subtle

patterns and stripes are an excellent idea,

especially if your suit is on the conservative


4. Classic color combinations are classics

for a reason. For women, black and white

is a perennial race track favorite. For men,

navy and white or beige and white are

racetrack classics.

5. Although trainers and sneakers are allowed in the grandstand, they are not a strong race track look.

6. One for the women: If you don’t like hats or prefer something less formal, a bow, headband or silk headscarf will gesture at the horse racing hat tradition without making you look like an extra from My Fair Lady.

7. Don’t overlook the clothes of kids attending with you. At many big racetracks, including Churchill Downs and Belmont, children over 12 or 13 are required to follow the adult dress code.

8. The racecourse often combines crowds, summertime and formal wear. So, if the weather is hot, choose natural, lightweight fabrics such as linen, cotton and silk (or silk blends) to stay cool and comfortable.

          Saratoga Race Track Photos by Michael Davis


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