May 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Hike Along the Hudson River in Palisades Interstate Park

If you’re looking for a quick hike not far from Teaneck, this moderate hike in the New Jersey section of the Palisades Interstate Park is a good choice. You’ll get some great views of the New York City skyline and the George Washington Bridge, and the hike will take you under the bridge, providing an interesting perspective. You’ll also be climbing about 300 vertical feet on rock steps to an overlook from the top of the cliffs. Unfortunately, due to construction, the last half-mile of the hike is on a sidewalk along Hudson Terrace.

The hike is 2.5 miles long, and it should take about an hour and a half (perhaps a little longer, if you want to stop and enjoy the views along the way). Leashed dogs are permitted on the trails in the Palisades Interstate Park, but dogs are not permitted in the Fort Lee Historic Park, where this hike begins. Since you’ll be traversing rough stone steps, this hike is not recommended if the ground is wet or covered with snow or ice.

To get there from Bergen County, follow Route 4 East to Fort Lee. Take Exit 73 (Lemoine Avenue, Fort Lee), which is the last exit in New Jersey, and continue ahead on the service road (Bruce Reynolds Boulevard). At the bottom of the hill, get into the left lane, cross Hudson Terrace and proceed ahead into the Fort Lee Historic Park. At the top of the ramp, turn left and park in the northern section of the parking area. There is no charge to park at the Fort Lee Historic Park during the winter (metered parking is in effect from April 1 to October 31). The trailhead is about five miles from Teaneck, and (if there is no traffic) it should take no more than 10 minutes to get there.

From the southwest corner of the northern parking area, follow a macadam path that leads into the woods, bearing left at the fork. You’ll notice white blazes on some trees along the path. These mark the route of the Shore Trail, which you’ll follow for the first part of the hike. After descending steps, continue along a concrete sidewalk parallel to the park entrance road. At the entrance to the park, turn left and head south (downhill) on the wide macadam path along the east side of Hudson Terrace. Bicycles are allowed on this “multi-use path,” and hikers should be alert for bicyclists proceeding downhill at high speeds.

At the end of the “multi-use path,” cross Henry Hudson Drive (the paved road leading into the Palisades Interstate Park) and immediately turn left (passing between rocks) onto a dirt footpath, the route of the white-blazed Shore Trail, that parallels the road. (Do not continue ahead into the private Edgewater Colony.) Soon, the trail descends a series of stone steps and moves away from the road. It continues to descend more steeply on switchbacks. (Be sure to bear left at a T-intersection.)

At the base of the descent, you’ll reach a panoramic viewpoint over the Hudson River. The skyscrapers of lower Manhattan may be seen on the right, and the George Washington Bridge is on the left. Several stone benches installed here by the Edgewater Colony, which owns the land over which this section of the trail passes, invite you to pause and enjoy the view.

Continue along the Shore Trail, heading north along the river on a wide dirt path. As you approach the George Washington Bridge, you’ll come to a large paved area, with a boat ramp on the right. Proceed ahead, crossing under the bridge, and continue north on a paved road, with views ahead of the Palisades cliffs. You might see an Amtrak train heading to or from Penn Station on the tracks across the river.

About 0.4 mile north of the bridge (after passing the Carpenter’s Grove picnic area on the right, and before reaching the Ross Dock area), you’ll notice a sign on the left for the Carpenter’s Trail. (The trailhead is also marked by a triple-blue blaze on a boulder.) Turn left onto this blue-blazed trail and climb the stone steps.

You’ll soon reach the imposing stone wall (partially covered by vines) which supports the approach road leading into Ross Dock. Here, the trail turns left and ascends a wide stone staircase to two stone-arch tunnels—first, under the approach road, then under the Henry Hudson Drive. The trail now turns right and proceeds north, soon reaching a switchback turn. Just beyond, there is an unobstructed view across the river. The trail continues to ascend on switchbacks, following broad rock steps. After a short but steep ascent on rather uneven rock steps, the Carpenter’s Trail reaches the top of the cliffs, where it joins the aqua-blazed Long Path.

Turn left here, and you’ll immediately come out on a panoramic viewpoint from a rock ledge at the edge of the Palisades cliffs, with two benches. Ross Dock is below on the left, and the George Washington Bridge is on the right.

South of this viewpoint, the Long Path is temporarily closed for construction. To return to the start of the hike, proceed north on the Long Path for 250 feet, then turn left onto the blue-blazed Carpenter’s Trail. The trail immediately climbs steps, crosses a footbridge over the northbound lanes of the Parkway, then crosses a bridge over the southbound lanes of the Parkway and Hudson Terrace. At the end of the second bridge, turn left, descend steps, and head south on the sidewalk along the west side of Hudson Terrace for about half a mile. After crossing under the George Washington Bridge, turn left and cross to the east side of Hudson Terrace. Enter the Fort Lee Historic Park and proceed uphill to the parking area where the hike began.

This hiking article is provided by Daniel Chazin of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. The Trail Conference is a volunteer organization that builds and maintains over 2,000 miles of hiking trails and publishes a library of hiking maps and books. The Trail Conference’s office is at 600 Ramapo Valley Road (Route 202), Mahwah; (201) 512-9348; www.nynjtc.org. Daniel Chazin can be reached at [email protected].

By Daniel Chazin

 

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