Standing on my balcony, a the northern end of The Bronx, I have a great view of the Hudson River. On the eastern shore is Westchester County, starting with the city of Yonkers. On the western shore are the Palisades, the 500+ foot tall volcanic cliffs that tower over the river. It is here that I headed on a fall morning to visit the unique Palisades Interstate Park, formed by two governors with who had an eye for the future.
Palisades Interstate Park was formed in 1900 by Gov. Teddy Roosevelt of New York and Gov. Foster Voorhees of New Jersey. It was formed in an effort to preserve the beauty of the Palisades at a time it was being quarried mercilessly. The park is twelve miles long, but only half a mile wide, and it follows the river along both the top and bottom of the cliffs. It runs basically from the Ft. Lee and the George Washington Bridge, north to just past the state line with New York.
Along the water, the park offers access to the Hudson River. There are parking and picnic areas, boat launches, a marina and even some beaches. Ferries brought New Yorkers across to enjoy a day along the river, from Dyckman Street in Manhattan to Englewood Landing, and from Yonkers to Alpine Landing. In 1912, Hudson River Drive was built, giving access to automobiles. As you drive north form the Edgewater Entrance you pass under the George Washington Bridge, and arrive at the Ross Dock Picnic Area. This large space includes grills and picnic spaces, a children’s playground, and a boat launch. It offers parking (for a fee during the summer season) and access to the park’s trails. But most of all, it offers a wonderful view of the George Washington Bridge. Movie fans might recognize it as the setting to carnival at the start of “Big.”
Continue north and you arrive at the Englewood Picnic area and Boat Basin. The is another beautiful place to stop, eat and hike. During the summer the Snack Shack is open, serving food, and there are picnic and gill sites available.
Continuing north along the beautiful Henry Hudson Drive and you will encounter the Undercliff Picnic Area. This is a very rustic area, with sites lined along the parking area. They are all shaded and separated by trees. However there are no facilities at this site. Nearby is the Undercliff Beach. You can’t drive north from this points as they are still rebuilding from the damage of Hurricane Sandy.
The top of the Palisades is dominated by Palisades Interstate Parkway, which carries cars from the bridge north, to the NYS Thruway and on to Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks in New York. While it seems harder to access, there are several ‘Lookouts’ where you can drive in and park. They offer wonderful views of the river and east to the New York communities. They also allow access to the trails along the cliff-top and to trails that go down to the water.
|State Line Lookout|
If you are looking for a place where you can picnic or hike and also be near the water of the Hudson River, come to the Palisades Interstate Park. It is beautiful and convenient.
Nuts and Bolts:
You can enter the park at several points. The Edgewater Entrance off of River Road in Ft. Lee, along with exits 1 and 2 from the Palisades Interstate Parkway all offer car access to Hudson River Drive.