When I think of the Hudson River, I think about tours that pass by the Statue of Liberty, helicopters flying over to see the many sights that New York City has to offer and of course, the ferries that go to Staten Island and New Jersey. What I don’t think about is walking across the Hudson River on a bridge – but not for long. My kids and I felt adventurous one Saturday so we planned on doing something different and explore something we’ve never done before. We decided it was time for us to head over to the Walkway Over the Hudson.
It’s the world’s longest pedestrian bridge and it’s a 1.25 mile walk through the entire bridge one way. It runs from Poughkeepsie (Parker Ave.) to the Town of Lloyd (Haviland Rd.) in Highland, N.Y. Both parking lots on either side are free for all. The Poughkeepsie side fits approximately 80 cars and the Highland side fits about 175 cars.
The Walkway Over the Hudson, also known as The Poughkeepsie Highland Railroad Bridge was once used to carry rail trains to transport coal from Pennsylvania to New England during the Industrial Revolution but that all changed when a fire destroyed the tracks. After the fire, no one knew what to do with the bridge because it would be too expensive to tear it down, then to leave it standing. Being that the bridge is very solid and secure; a man by the name of Bill Sepe had a brilliant idea to rebuild this bridge and turn it into a place where Mid-Hudson Valley residents and people from all over the world can visit to take a stroll, go for a run or a bike ride.
Just in case you didn’t know, the bridge is now an historic New York State park. The official name of the bridge is called The Walkway over the Hudson State Historic Park. It opened to the public on October 3, 2009 and it has been a huge hit, especially for us. Right before the entrance, I noticed a few parking lots that were charging $5 to park. I knew from reading the newspaper that parking was indeed free so I ignored the signs. As I approached the official entrance to the park, I also noticed there weren’t many spaces left to park. So I went ahead and waited until someone came out seven minutes later. After we parked the car, we started to walk toward the gated entrance.
Once you reach the entrance, you will see a few restrooms (ok, port-a-potty), vendors selling t-shirts, books and all sorts of memorabilia to enjoy. And if you’re hungry, there’s usually someone selling food and drinks. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes because you will walk far in order to appreciate and enjoy the wonderful fall colors the Hudson Valley has to offer.
While on the bridge, everyone seemed to be in a good mood. It was such a nice and relaxing walk and most people had smiles on their faces. We were in no rush to reach the area above the river so we walked slowly. We saw lots of people walking their dogs, children & adults riding their bikes and we even saw kids on skateboards. I can tell everyone was enjoying the fresh air as well as the scenery. It was a very nice crowd on a very beautiful day.
If you’re in the NYC area, I highly recommend the drive over to Poughkeepsie or Highland. It’s worth the trip and the fresh, crisp air. And don’t forget to bring your camera!
Park is open from 7AM to sunset. The bridge is handicapped accessible and dogs are allowed. As of August, they have build a brand new stairway so if you don’t want to take a drive from far, you can hop on the Metro-North or Amtrak and take a shuttle bus to the Walkway.
Either way, you’re gonna love the breath taking scenery!
Note: For information about inclement weather closings, please contact New York State Parks at 845-834-2867. This information is also posted online at www.facebook.com/walkwayoverthehudson or www.twitter.com/wothshp.
[This post was originally written for another site that I no longer write for.]