Back home from our Maine trip we found that spring was much further along in the metro New York area. With warm weather upon us, we headed out to Wildwood State Park in Wading River. Feeling a little ambitious, I decided to put my leg to the test by walking the yellow trail; a walk of approximately 3.8 miles.
The first part of the trail appears to be the remnants of an old paved road, probably left over from a previous owner before the land was acquired by the state. We noticed that there was considerable amount of tree damage from super storm Sandy, with broken branches and trees leaning against other trees. I have to say that our park workers have done an excellent job of clearing debris from the trails.
Most of the undamaged trees were filled with leave buds, not yet ready to explode into full sized leaves. A few more warm days and I’m sure everything will be in full bloom. While the trees were still in the spring growing process, the underbrush was in full attire. In some areas of the park, particularly half way through our hike, the underbrush was so green that it actually had the appearance of a mid-summer day.
We followed a side trail that paralleled the yellow trail and ended up on a trail that took us along the bluff. Eventually this trail met up with the yellow trail again. Here there was a wooden bench overlooking the Long Island Sound and it was tempting to think about lingering here for hours just contemplating the view.
With some reluctance, we returned to the trail and continued our journey. At some point we reached a crossroads where things got a bit confusing. The yellow trail apparently circled around past what appeared to be an old caretaker’s cottage. We did eventually find our way back to the yellow markers but I was still curious about the cottage and the history of the park.
After some research, I discovered that Wildwood was formerly two separate estates. The Wildwood estate was owned by Roland Mitchell who commissioned Stanford White to build the house. The house was never completed and the estate was deeded to the state in 1925. The house was torn down in the 1930’s. The second estate was owned by Joseph G. Robin, who built a country manor house called Driftwood Manor. Since Robin was a shady character, there are numerous articles about him in the New York Times from 1910 to 1912. His house was bought by the state in 1912 and the house was razed some time in the 1980’s. **(see note below)
The path became a little more uneven here, strewn with small stones and I stumbled a bit as we neared the end of our hike. I realized I had overdone it a bit since my hip replacement leg was sore, probably from the length and pace of this hike.
We had hiked the 3.8 miles in about 1.5 hours.
**Recently a few articles have been citing this post as a source for the history of the two estates at Wildwood State Park. I do reference the New York Times as an excellent source for information about Joseph Robin and Driftwood Manor. However, after 5 years I cannot remember where I obtained my information about the Wildwood Estate, Roland Mitchell and Stanford White. I do remember doing extensive research about this at the time but I have failed to keep track of these resources. For the sake of completeness and an attempt to give credit to the source, I do know that I searched the New York Times archives, Newsday, Long Island Forum and the Long Island History Journal, as well as local history collections at my local library at the time.
Update: February 2018. “The County Review, Suffolk’s Leading Newspaper”, June 30 1927, p. 1. regarding the dedication of a Girl Scout Camp. A paragraph near the end of the article states “The property was formerly the country estate of the late Roland G. Mitchell. He had a handsome three-story brick mansion and outbuilding erected 20 year’s ago, but he died before the building were completed.”