While the five flights of stairs to reach your apartment may get your heart rate up, the view is a little less than scenic. The Palisades Interstate Park on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge is a spectacular place to stay active year round, with 25 miles of trails for the experienced or leisure hiker and car-free roads for cyclists. Plan your next quick getaway to the Garden State for a refreshing workout and some of the best views found outside the city limits.
New Jersey’s Palisades Interstate Park is full of well-marked hiking trails of varying difficulty. The Long Path route is a 13-mile hike that can be intersected by way of the George Washington Bridge’s Hudson Terrace, which will lead you south towards the Fort Lee Historic Park visitor center and into the woods. Between the parkway and Hudson River, the Long Path lets hikers trek the cliff-tops of the Palisades and continues as far north as the Catskill Forest Preserve and beyond to Albany. A shorter, but equally entertaining hike option is the five-mile Closter Landing Loop, more commonly known as “Millionaire’s Row,” in honor of the remains of over a dozen mansions—like Cliff Dale Manor, built in 1911—that once populated the park. (Explore these stone ruins at your own risk.) The 3.5 mile, dog-friendly Shore Trail Lollipop-Loop is another easy-to-moderate hike marked by stunning Hudson River views and more haunting relics of the early 20th century. If you’re pumped to navigate more difficult terrain, take on the oft-steep 12.2-mile Shore Trail, which runs along the Hudson River from Fort Lee to just beyond the New Jersey-New York state line. For information on the best x-country ski trails, visit njpalisades.org.
Fit cyclists looking for a fun and challenging alternative to prosaic laps around Central Park should discover River Road. Coming off the west end of the George Washington Bridge, take the first left (staying on the sidewalk) and pedal south, then swing left onto Henry Hudson Drive (also known as River Road). The road turns back north under the GWB. You’ll confront few if any vehicles and if you stay right, you will eventually get to a scenic park by the banks of the Hudson river. After you’ve snapped a photo and re-hydrated, pop a Shot Blok and get ready to climb back south. Or feel free to keep going north (view the map) for a longer ride, with more climbing. However you choose to combine the park’s 25 miles of looping trails and bike paths, you can anticipate increasing your workout endurance and enjoying every moment of it.
How to get there: By Bus: Red and Tan routes #9A and #9W from the George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal and the Port Authority Bus Terminal [at 41st Street] stop along US 9W. Check the park’s website for trail maps that highlight these stops. By Bike: To get to the George Washington Bridge, go North on Riverside Drive, make a Right on West 165th, a left on Fort Washington Ave., a left on West 177th, then a right on Cabrini. Follow the GWB sign, go left on the sidewalk and take the path onto the bridge. By Foot: Arrive at the park on foot by crossing the George Washington Bridge.