If you live in southern New York or New Jersey, the chances are you’ve heard of Bear Mountain, Breakneak Ridge and Cold Spring. These popular destination spots are ideal for pent-up city dwellers wanting to get a taste of the outdoors, but a lesser known gem exists right at their doorstep. Manitoga/The Russel Wright Design Center is home to three miles of trails that will change the way you view a traditional hike.
When walking the trails of the property, one immediately gets the sense that this is a hike unlike any other. The contour of the land bends and pulls you into discovering one mystery after another. The blankets of moss and ferns lure you to suggested themes and natural dramas, and the idea of getting lost is prefaced with a sense of excitement rather than fear. Conscious of every step, you find yourself happening upon a myriad of views, verandas, and clearings – each filling you with more emotion than the last.
It’s hard to believe that such enchantment can exist just 60 miles north of New York City, but make no mistake, this is not a fictional forest and, despite popular belief, Manitoga is far from an accidental discovery.
Famed Mid-Century Industrial designer, Russel Wright, and his wife, Mary, purchased the abandoned quarry in 1942. As a former theater designer, Wright was able to look past the wreckage and highlight the natural intricacies and beauty of the landscape. After 30 years of dedication to his opus, the property was deeded to the Nature Conservancy.
Today, the purpose Manitogas mission is to preserve and to share Wright's vision. However, the organization responsible for Manitoga is faced with the responsibility to upkeep and maintain the property in keeping with Wright’s original vision. After carefully thought out discussions and proposals, the Jolly Rovers Trail Crew is pleased to be working with the staff at Manitoga/ The Russel Wright Design Center to improve the Killalemy trail this year.
This is not your normal trail project: from processes to finished product, our long-term dedicated crew is devoted to not only making these trails sustainable for public use, but to do so within the parameters of the designer's intent.
When a conductor is peering at a musical score, he knows all of the moving parts: the melodies that need to shine through, how the instrumental elements fit together, the feeling that needs to be conveyed; both in fragments and its entirety. In this sense, the Jolly Rovers are not functioning as Wright’s contractors, but rather as the conductor’s of arguably his greatest and most adored symphony.
We will be exploring the challenges and successes as we interpret the late designer's vision. In this way, we hope to not only revive the physical aspects of the site, but also to rekindle the creative spirit, energy and dedication of Russel Wright.
To Learn More About the “Stewards of Stonework” program, please visit www.jollyrovers.org/#!stewards-of-stonework
To plan a visit to the Manitoga/ The Russel Wright Design Center, please go to www.visitmanitoga.org