Monday, July 20, 2009

Starting On The Long Path in New Jersey

The Long Path was first proposed as a New York route similar to the Long Trail in Vermont. Unlike the Long Trail, it was intended as an unmarked route meandering from the George Washington Bridge to Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondacks, connecting together a series of landmarks.

The name of the trail came from Walt Whitman's poem "Song of the Open Road"
"There lies before me a long brown path, leading wherever I choose."
Beginning in the 1960's the New York - New Jersey Trail Conference went further by creating a blazed hiking trail along the original route. Today the Long Path is a 326 mile hiking trail extending from the George Washington Bridge, north to John Boyd Thacher Park near Albany with plans to extend the trail to the Mohawk River and eventually into the Adirondacks.

The Trail Conference lists many scheduled hikes by different group on their website. It's a good way to start out with experienced "guides" and meet like-minded hikers from the area.

As you leave the sounds of traffic behind and listen to birds, the Long Path travels the length of New York connecting suburban backyards with wilderness areas, pre-Revolutionary iron mines and fast food restaurants.

There are some challenging climbs considering you will be at Piermont Marsh at sea leve and at the summit of Slide Mountain over 4100 feet higher. There are also gentle sections.

Starting Out in New Jersey


The Long Path begins in Fort Lee at the historical park, on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge. You can make the first twelve miles to the New York State line a first time hike. It follows along the Palisades through lands of the Palisades Interstate Park. There are many spectacular views of the Hudson River and New York City along the way.

NNS Photo via blog.nj.com

Boating, fishing, picnicking, hiking and history combine in this park created in 1900. Thirty miles of hiking trails on the Hudson River Shore Trail and the cliff-top Long Path, two public boat basins and a boat launching ramp. Also, four riverfront picnic areas, a scenic riverside drive, a cliff-top Parkway with three scenic overlooks, a nature sanctuary, historic sites, and miles of rugged woodlands. For information, call 201-768-1360, or visit www.njpalisades.org.

After crossing into New York, the Long Path turns away from the Hudson River, but continues to follow the Palisades Escarpment to its end in Mt. Ivy. Much of the route is through State Parks but the trail also serves as a link to smaller county and town parks. There is some road walking through the towns of Piermont and Nyack. There are extensive views of the lower Hudson River valley along the way, with the most dramatic views on Hook Mountain and High Tor.

Leaving the Palisades, the Long Path enters Harriman State Park, passing through the park in a northwesterly direction. The park is criss-crossed with an abundance of trails, and there are many opportunities for circular hikes.


Long Path Overview
Long Path Guide

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