In 2012, I had enjoyed a number of hikes with a small group of people whom I had met through the Jewish Outdoors Club and mutual friends. In 2013, the small group wasn’t very active, and I was also not hiking as much, as I was busy dating Batya (who featured in a couple of my hikes from 2013). Batya and I were married on March 31, 2014, and I hope we will be able to enjoy many hikes together. On Mother’s Day, we met Martin, Yaffa, and Yona for a hike in Palisades Interstate Park.
In 1900, the governors of New York and New Jersey formed the Palisades Interstate Park Commission to protect the Palisades cliffs, which were being damaged by quarry operators. The commission later developed a highway and many other parks in the two states.
We met in the parking lot at State Line Lookout, near the northern end of the Palisades and near the border between New York and New Jersey.
10:40 a.m.: We walked a short distance northward along a promenade and along a chained-off road (Old Route 9W), before turning right (northeast) onto the Long Path.
10:58 a.m.: The Long Path led downhill toward the Hudson River.
While most of the park is within New Jersey, a tiny portion is within Rockland County, New York. I believe this lookout that the group is enjoying came after we passed the New York-New Jersey border marker, and that the spot is called High Gutter Point:
11:03 a.m.: Here, the Long Path descends toward the Hudson. The high point of the cliffs is about 540′ above the water.
11:15 a.m.: The Long Path turned northwest, and we came to a small bridge over a wet area. Note the skunk cabbage. This area is known as Skunk Hollow: freed slaves and their descendants lived here from the early 1800s through the early 1900s.
We left the Long Path, turning right (northeast) onto the white-blazed Shore Trail. A sign warned hikers that the Shore Trail would lead over a rock scramble and a steeper climb up the cliffs than the gentler descent we’d just experienced. (Note the misspelling of “ascent.”)
11:28 a.m.: We reached Peanut Leap Cascade, a waterfall of about 50′ in height, adjacent to a small rocky beach. For scale, Martin stands in front of the fall.
Batya and I also posed in front of the waterfall:
The nearby beach includes a couple of swings hanging from a tree.
Here’s another look at Peanut Leap Cascade, with the ruins of what had once been an Italianate garden designed by Mary Lawrence on her family’s “Cliffside” estate.
A shoreline view from the rocky beach:
12:20 p.m.: After relaxing a half hour at Peanut Leap Cascade, we continued along the Shore Trail, heading southeast and skirting the Hudson River, in places having to hike over rocks. Here, Yaffa, Yona and Martin detour a bit from the path to give some space to a pair of hapless Canadian Geese, who had foolishly chosen to build a nest right on the trail.
The goose was hissing at us, while the gander just stood by. Batya and I skirted by them, and I took a photo of the pair. These geese can attack people with their bills and wings, leaving bruises or even drawing a little blood, though they won’t cause serious injury. Luckily we were able to pass by without this pair feeling too threatened by us.
12:36 p.m.: We entered the Giant Stairs area, where a jumble of rocks makes for challenging hiking.
The shoreline from the Giant Stairs:
Martin on the Giant Stairs:
White blazes suggest the path that hikers should follow:
12:53 p.m.: My bride navigates the Giant Stairs:
It was a beautiful day for hiking, with blue skies and hawks flying overhead. The weather was 80 degrees: warm, but not too hot, and not too humid.
At one point, we passed a woman sitting on a rock, with another woman and man standing by her. The man was on his cell phone calling for help, reporting that the woman had twisted an ankle and that they needed assistance. There was nothing we could do to help, so we continued on. After a while, we stopped to rest, and I was able to photograph the back of a red-tailed hawk, resting in a tree:
2:20 p.m.: We reached the intersection with the blue and white-blazed Forest View Trail, which led up a series of stairs and switchbacks the 500′ to the top of the Palisades:
At the top, we returned to the parking lot, with the hike being about 4-5 miles.
3:17 p.m.: Our hiking companions drove off, while Batya and I hiked a little more on the paved Old 9W. We spotted a gray catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) along the path:
As we returned to the car, we saw NYPD helicopters flying overhead and saw/heard them hovering below the cliffs. I speculated that they were involved with rescuing the woman whom we had heard had twisted her ankle. Crowds were gathered, but there was nothing to see from our vantage point, as the cliff blocked our view of the helicopters. I later read an article that the woman had broken her ankle and had been lifted to safety by the helicopters. Another article said that she’d been rescued at 6:00 p.m., but the helicopter activity we had seen had been much earlier, probably around 3:30 p.m. So either the article was wrong, or the earlier helicopters were unsuccessful in reaching her and another successful attempt was made after Batya and I left the Palisades.
We probably hiked about 6 miles, and as noted, the elevation loss and gain wasn’t great, but it was still nice to get out after so many months of not hiking.