NYC Hiking Guide: Palisades
NYC HIKING GUIDE: PALISADES INTERSTATE PARK
By Avi David Edelson, originally posted on Bkoutdoor.com
If you live in NYC and love to hike, there are options closer than you’d think. One of my favorite local hikes is located just over the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey. The Palisades Interstate Park (Palisades from here on) is a stunning 100,000+ acre park lying on the western bank of the Hudson River offering stunning views, historic landmarks, tumbling water falls and lots of quiet space.
Bounded to the south by the GWB and the north by Rockland County, New York the Palisades offers over 30 miles of hiking and cross country ski trails. While a relatively narrow park (roughly a half to three quarters of a mile wide) it feels surprisingly secluded. This is due in part to the geology of the area. As you can make out in the photos and maps included here, sheer cliffs run the entire length of the park–and these are some impressive cliffs, rising up to a few hundred feet. With this change in elevation, if you’re on the trail close to the Hudson you would never know that the Palisades Interstate Parkway is on the other side of the cliffs less than a mile away.
Before designation as a park by the Interstate Commission in the early 1900s, the Palisades area was home to some of the area’s wealthiest families and industrialists. Today, as you walk through the park, you can still find evidence of the many opulent homes that dotted the shoreline in the late 19th century.
During the FDR administration, the new park got a facelift through the WPA, the CCC and other depression era programs. When hiking through the Palisades you’ll find proof of these projects in the massive stone bridges, quarried staircases, exposed lookouts and the iconic Henry Hudson Drive–a stunning carriage road that weaves slowly through the park, offering motorists, cyclists and walkers the experience of a leafy country road just minutes from one of the busiest metropolises in the world.
A trip to the Palisades really isn’t complete without viewing at least one of the park’s waterfalls as they tumble from the cliffs into the wooded understory on their way to the Hudson. And, an excursion to the Women’s Federation Monument is well worth it. The monument, a crenelated castle-like structure, is situated in the northern section of the park on a beautiful location just above the cliffs. Beyond the amazing views, the monument reminds visitors of the instrumental role women played in the creation of the park.
Bus: From Port Authority take Coach USA Bus 9A or 9W to the Englewood Cliffs area. There are a few stops one could use to access the park. Review the embedded maps to find the best one. Follow the Coach USA Bus link here to see the current schedule.
Car: Simply drive over the GWB and follow signage to the Palisades Interstate Parkway northbound. Continue north for approximately 4 miles to the Englewood Cliffs Entrance of the park. From there follow signs for Henry Hudson Drive.
Bikers and Walkers: Travel across the GWB and follow the pedestrian route north toward the Palisades Interstate Parkway. As you leave the GWB area you should see signage for a walking path to the Palisades. Again, review the maps linked here for the most up-to-date information on accessing the park.