Long Path Diaries – Section 1

The long path is a 357 mile trail system that goes from New York City to north of Albany, New York. November was the start of my long path journey. I met Hunter in the morning to join me on this trip.

Section 1 of the long path starts in the Washington Heights in New York City. I think technically it starts at the 175th street subway station, but it really doesn’t matter where you start since your immediate objective is to get onto the George Washington Bridge bike path. The entrance to the bike/pedestrian pathway is on 178th St west of Fort Washington Ave. If it’s a Saturday and you get confused, just keep your eyes open for some cyclists since some will inevitably be making their way over the bridge.

Once we were on the bridge we had to hug the side of the path since its narrow and there is a steady stream of bike traffic going both directions. Many of the cyclists are also VERY motivated so its best to give them as much space as practical. The bridge is about a mile long (I think, forgot to turn my watch on until we were about a 1/3 of the way there). We grabbed a few views looking south into Manhattan and continued to make our way over the bridge.

When we got over the GW we kept following the path until we saw the Hudson Terrace underpass and then took a right. After the underpass, normally it looks like the trail continues up a staircase into the upper section of the Fort Lee Park. However, because of construction we had to take a detour along Hudson Terrace.

We go past the detour and were finally able to get our feet on some dirt and began to walk along the trail. For most of this section, you are following the Palisades Parkway. The sounds of cars are always just overhead, but the scenery is actually very beautiful. We did this trail in late fall so there were plenty of trees with their leaves turning.

While this is one of the longer sections of the entire Long Path, the trail is flat the majority of the time so you make a good pace. Along the way we passed numerous other day hikers. While I had a trail map on my phone, in some areas I kind of missed the green trail tags. Whoops!

We kept up our pace and took several opportunities of the view of the lower Hudson River along the way (the trail stays up on top of the cliffs most of the way so there are plenty of great views). Once we started to get towards the State Line lookout Park the terrain finally started to change. There was one small section of a fairly steep incline to make it towards the park. Once we got to the park we skirted by the parking lot and kept following the trail north. After the parking lot the trail starts to come down off the cliff side. Hunter and I took care to not take a spill on the way down—didn’t want to end our hike on a bad note.

The last portion of Section 1 cuts back west towards the Columbia University Observatory and ends right at the NJ / NY state line. However, since Hunter and I were getting a pickup, we kept on the trail into Palisades, NY—it wound up giving us about an extra mile. Overall, this is a long but easy section and a great way to spend a morning/afternoon outdoors.

Watched logged: 14.53 miles, 5:11:12 secs, avg speed 2.8 mph, total ev gain 1883’

The mountains are calling.

Ryan Kutter


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