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The Pancake Chef

Mills-Norrie State Park
Staatsburg, NY


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Steve's Review:

We've been to this park two times before, in 2007 and in 2014, and it's a favorite of ours for Fall season camping. In summer months, we like to stay at a place with good swimming, but in the Fall, that's not important. Instead, we value a campground that's has good hiking trails and is located in an interesting area. Mills-Norrie State park has both.

Ruth Livingston Mills

The Hudson River Valley is wonderful to explore and there are four historic houses within five miles of the campsite, including one within the state park boundaries. The park is actually two adjacent parks Margaret Lewis Norrie State Park and Ogden Mills & Ruth Livingston Mills State Park. I don't know much about Margaret Lewis Norrie, except that she was active in Dutchess County politics. She is likely to have been a distant cousin to Ruth Livingston Mills, who was a descendent of Robert Livingston, scion of a prominent early New York political family, and also New York's third governor, Morgan Lewis. Ogden Mills was a financier and thoroughbred racehorse owner who served, among other roles, as a board member of the New York Central Railroad. Their son, Ogden Livingston Mills, served as Secretary of the Treasury, under President Hoover. Ogden L. Mills and his sister Gladys were also horsebreeders and their horses included Triple Crown winner Seabiscuit. These people were connected! Gladys Mills Phipps ultimately donated the Mills Mansion, Staatsburgh, to the state along with the land around it, which includes Dinsmore Golf Course.

In addition to the Mills Mansion, there are three historic homes in nearby Hyde Park. Springwood is the home and presidential library of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Between the main house, the library and the grounds, it's well worth spending an etire day here. Just down the road is the Vanderbilt Mansion Nation Historic Site, the home of Frederick William Vanderbilt, a lucky grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt. Two miles further inland is Val-Kill, part of the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historical Site.

The Margaret Lewis Norrie side of the park includes the site of a CCC camp, a mid-sized campground that includes 10 cabins, and a small marina. (It's one of several parks in the state you can reach via boat.) A network of trails connects the two parks. There are remnants of a number of old structures along the trails including ice houses used for all-year storage of ice from the Hudson River. Much of the riverfront of the Hudson is difficult to access because there are railways along both banks. At Mills-Norrie, the railway skirts inland and this affords campers an opportunity to hike along the river. On Saturday, we took the white trail as far as the riverside pavilion and returned to the campground via the blue trail, an easy loop.

We were joined by our cousins, The Hoffmans, and we spent much of the weekend playing games, yapping, and eating yummy things. After a hearty pancake breakfast, Saturday's big activity was a trip to pick apples at Rose Hill Farm in Red Hook. (The cider donuts and apple crisp were outstanding!). On Sunday, we spent a liesurely morning drying out and packing up after an early morning rain. Then we had a fun lunch (and fresh beer) at the Hyde Park Brewing Company. We'll be back!

SBW


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