Palisades Interstate Park

Do you remember the Cliffs of Insanity in the movie The Princess Bride?  The cliffs here remind me of that. They’re pretty wily and not for the faint of heart.  There are several trails you can choose to tackle here, depending on your energy level and expertise.  There’s a rough and tumble trail on top of the cliffs called the Giant Stairs, which only experienced hikers should do.  I’ve never done that one.  Then there’s the Long Path, which is also on top of the cliff, but much safer and requires less skill.  I’ve done that one and don’t recommend it, only because it’s next to the highway and you hear the cars whizzing by all the time.  I’m devoting this week’s post to the Shore Trail that is at the base of the cliffs.  I consider this the gem of Palisades Park and an easy hike.

First off, it’s important to note that this is an 8-mile one-way trail.  If you’ve got 4 hours and lots of energy, you will need some transportation stationed on the other end to pick up your exhausted self.  What I did was walk 1.5 hours into the trail and then walk back the way I came to create a good 3-hour hike.  You can customize this hike as you choose.

This is a pretty good pic that summarizes what you will see along the trail. The ducks are optional.

Further in, you’ll encounter small beaches. Beware of ticks if you sit down anywhere. They’re quick buggers.

Don’t forget to slow down and enjoy the wildlife, including strange caterpillars.

At some point, you’ll come across this clearing where you can plunk down a picnic basket and have yourself a nice lunch with a breeze coming off the Hudson.

This clearing is also home to the remains of a settlement.

What I like about this place is that you’re reminded that you’re in civilization because of the buildings just across the river, but everything’s so far away you can admire the view without any of the noise to go with it. It’s like you’re on your own island.

To get here, you can drive or take the bus. For the bus, take the Rockland Coach bus at the Port Authority.  Several of its routes stop at Closter Dock Road.  Click here for current routes and schedules.  If you’re driving from the city, take the upper level of the George Washington Bridge to the first exit, Palisades Interstate Parkway Northbound. There are no hiking fees but you do need to pay for parking.  Dogs are allowed but bikes are not.  There are ticks here, so wear light colored pants and long white socks so you can spot them if they crawl on you.  Click here for a current status of the trails.  Some parts are closed during certain seasons.

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