Sunday, March 27, 2011

Palisades Interstate Park, NJ and NY (Bombay Hook - Giant Stairs)

ABOUT THE PARK:  Palisades Interstate Park

GPS Coordinates for Park Headquarters Parking: 40.953333, -73.920545

View Larger Map

NY/NJ Trail Conference Hudson Palisades Trails Maps 108 and 109

9 miles - this hike is a combination of two hikes starting at the Park Headquarters in Alpine:
     8 miles - Bombay Hook (Forest View Hike) - NJ Palisades Park
     3 miles - The Giant Stairs - NJ Palisades Park
     6 miles - Forest View/Closter Dock Trail Loop - NY/NJ Trail Conference
     4.5 miles - Giant Stairs/Long Path Loop - NY/NJ Trail Conference

Start the hike by heading south along the road from the park headquarters. After a very short distance, the aqua-blazed Long Park veers left away from the road.
In a quarter mile the Long Path veers right through a tunnel.  Turn left and switchback down on the orange-blazed Closter Dock Trail.
At .65 mile turn left on the white-blazed Shore Trail.
Stairs branching off the trail to the left and right are worth exploring.
Stairs to the right led to a dynamite storage bunker in the 1930's
Yonkers, NY across the Hudson River.
Around 1 mile the trail splits. The white-blazed Shore Trail goes right, the unmarked Upper Trail goes left. They converge back together in about .7 mile; for this hike I took the Upper Trail.
Looking down on the Shore Trail below from the Upper Trail.
Back on the white-blazed Shore Trail after the Upper Trail joins back in.
Turn around for a view of New York City and the George Washington Bridge.
Cliffs to the left - the return route is along the tops of the cliffs.
Forest View - picnic area and boat basin abandoned after World War II due to decline in visitors.
The Giant Stairs begin at the 3 mile mark. Do not underestimate the warnings. It is VERY slow going and if you have a dog along plan on it taking twice as long as that.  The actual rock scrambles are about 1/2 mile long - took me over an hour to do it with the dog.  It's challenging to find placement for two feet and you have to find additional placement for 4 paws!
After Giant Stairs, a grand entrance to New York State:
The Tappanzee Bridge will come into view then Peanut Leap Cascade.
Peanut Leap Cascade
The white-blazed shore trail ascends up steps along the cascade to the aqua-blazed Long Path.
The Long Path continues to ascend up stone steps.
The steps bring you to views from the top of the cliffs.
New Jersey Boundary Monument
Women's Federation Monument
View from unmarked trail.
1891 Rock Carving
Waterfall from the top down (much more impressive in real life).

[  .25]  Left on orange when LP goes right through tunnel; switchback down
[  .65]  At end of orange, left on white (sign says Forest View 2.3 miles)
[  .75]  Steps up to the left to old dynamite bunker from 1930's; cross waterfalls
[  .80]  Steps down to river on right to Cape Flyaway dock ruins (small fisherman's hamlet from 19th and early 20th centuries)
[  .90]  Second set of steps down to Cape Flyaway dock ruins
[ 1.05]  At split left on unmarked trail when white goes right (can go either way)
[ 1.55]  Cross bridge
[ 1.75]  Upper Trail merges back together with Shore Trail coming in from right; turn around for view of GW bridge
[ 2.70]  Keep straight on white shore trail when blue/white trail goes left
[ 3.00]  Beginning of Giant Stairs
[ 3.45]  Break in rock scramble
[ 3.60]  More rock scramble
[ 3.65]  End of rock scramble; trail smooths out; through chain link gate into New York
[ 4.05]  Peanut Leap Cascade; trail ascends next to cascade
[ 4.10]  Trail turns sharply left up stairs (WRONG WAY painted on tree straight ahead)
[ 4.35]  White trail ends; turn left on aqua-blazed Long Path and cross bridge
[ 4.50]  Aqua trail turns left and ascends stone steps
[ 4.65]  Through gate in chain link fence, border monument straight ahead along fence
[ 4.70]  At T intersection, turn left on aqua-blazed trail (unmarked)
[ 4.75]  At split take left ford; teal blaze on tree short distance ahead
[ 5.15]  Left on old concrete road to State Line Lookout; retrace
[ 5.80]  Left on "F" trail/aqua-blazed trail (would have seen on right heading towards State Line Lookout)
[ 6.00]  Aqua trail turns left but turn markers hard to see on post
[ 6.25]  At intersection turn left on "A"/aqua where "B" goes straight
[ 6.30]  Cross over road
[ 6.45]  Descend steps; cross bridge; keep right on aqua and blue/white combined as blue/white goes left
[ 6.65]  Women's Federation Monument (castle)
[ 6.75]  Aqua-blazed Long Path goes straight, turn left on unmarked trail then continue along wire barrier to views
[ 6.85]  At T-intersection turn left on gravel road
[ 7.25]  At overlook on rock outcrop rock carving from 1891; continue and merge on to aqua-blazed long path coming in from right
[ 8.20]  Cross over bridge; left on unmarked just past bridge to top of waterfall; retrace
[ 8.25]  Continue left on aqua-blazed Long Path
[ 8.30]  Side trail to left over old concrete bridge to view
[ 8.55]  Cross over bridge
[ 9.00]  Palisades Park HQ parking lot

1 comment:

  1. Just did this hike by following your summary, and it was fantastic! For being located so close to the city, I was pleasantly surprised at the lack of road noise for the majority of the hike. Also, The Giant Stairs certainly did not disappoint. It was definitely a challenge, but who doesn't love a good challenge right? I commend you for being able to successfully navigate that path with your dog. Thank you for detailing and summarizing hikes such as this one. It makes the process of finding and navigating them very easy and enjoyable. I will for sure be trying another hike that you have detailed in the very near future!