Hudson Heights Weather

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The BEST half-day trip from Hudson Heights (the Palisades)

Sometimes you need to get out of NYC but you only have a few hours.  My recommendation in this situation is Palisades Interstate Park, which includes the dramatic cliffs and forests on the other side of the Hudson River.  This park runs from just south of the George Washington Bridge to the N.J./N.Y. border and just beyond, a total of 12 miles and 2,500 acres.  Because access is so limited (there are only a few roads leading down the steep cliffs) the park feels a world away.  The roads are well-paved and perfect for biking.  And the several trails running directly along the Hudson River shoreline and along the ridges of the cliffs are stunning.  At the southern end of the park you can admire direct views of Hudson Heights, the bridge and the skyscrapers of Manhattan to the south.  Towards the northern end, you see Riverdale, the City of Yonkers and the Tappan Zee Bridge.  Throughout the park are historic sites.  My particular favorite is a settlement on the river from which boats took N.J. farm goods to New York City (accessible from the Alpine, N.J. exit of the Palisades Interstate Parkway).

If you don't have a car, walk or bike across the bridge and turn south immediately upon making "landfall" in New Jersey.  First you come to historic "Fort Lee," which has recreations of Revolutionary War dwellings of soldiers.  The next entrance puts you on Henry Hudson Drive, which winds its way north along the river below the cliffs.  This road is shared by bikers and cars, so be careful.  Hikers will want to get off this road and take the trail that runs north along the river itself.  From this trail you can get right up to the river, observe wildlife, and enjoy some peaceful sandy beaches.  The trail is rough in spots, so bring good shoes and good sense of balance.  Look for sea glass in the river and historic bottles along the trail (I assume tossing bottles off the cliffs was a favorite pastime in the 1700s and 1800s).  If you venture up to the walking trails that run along the cliffs, be careful with young kids along the edges.

If you have a car, you have a few additional options from Hudson Heights.  Take the Palisades Interstate Parkway north and pick one of the exits that suits you.  Visit to obtain maps.   There are 3 maps, each covering about 4 miles of the park.  I highly recommend this park in the fall, particularly October and November.


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