Highlights: Awesome views, people watching
Distance: 3 miles, up-and-back
Approximate roundtrip time: 1.5 hours
Total ascent: 88 ft
Max elevation: 306 ft above sea level
This hike is for you if: You’re looking for beautiful views and a unique stroll on the longest raised pedestrian walkway in the whole (entire freaking!) world.
Background you can feel free to skip: The moment the Walkway over the Hudson opened to the public in 2009, the Hudson Valley instantly became a cooler place to live by at least 14%. On a nice day, you can expect to see a constant stream of humanity out there, and I often see people I know, which makes me feel like I live in Mayberry, if Mayberry had incredible views of the river, the Catskills, the Hudson Highlands and the Mid-Hudson Bridge.
If you live anywhere near the Walkway and you haven’t visited yet, seriously, I have no idea what you’re waiting for. It’s beautiful at all times of year, and it’s one of the only hiking destinations that gets plowed in the winter, making it an excellent cure for cabin fever.
Whenever my out-of-town friends dither about whether they’re willing to drive a few hours to see me, I say, “Dude, we have the longest raised pedestrian walkway in the WHOLE WORLD here. Whatever excuse you have, it’s not good enough.” If that doesn’t work, these glowing Yelp reviews probably won’t either, but they do help present a strong pro-visit case.
Even though the Walkway stands 200+ feet over the Hudson, you never really get that stomach-dropping feeling from it, perhaps because all the concrete makes it feel like a regular road. A regular, awesome road with extraordinary views, educational signage, snack vendors at either end (when it’s warm), lots of friendly people and some cute pooches to boot.
I’ve also recently noticed that besides your garden variety walkers, bikers and roller-bladers, there are increasing numbers of people on the Walkway locomoting in ways you don’t see every day:
How cool are these people? They give the place more of a carnival atmosphere, like we’re in Venice Beach instead of Poughkeepsie. I really dig that.
This walk only ranks a 2 of out 10 on the Scientific Hike Difficulty Rating Scale, mostly because it’s completely flat and paved the whole way. Still, if you stroll the entire three miles out and back (parking lot to parking lot), you’ll know you’ve gotten some good exercise.
This park wouldn’t exist if a lot of very determined people didn’t work very hard to turn a rusted old rail bridge into an awesome tourist attraction. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all the people with the vision and determination to make the Walkway a reality. You’ve made the Hudson Valley a better place to live and visit.
1. From the parking lot, walk across the bridge.
2. When you reach the opposing parking lot, or you just feel like turning around, turn around and head back to your car.
3. Seems like there should be a step 3.
Note about parking: As of this writing (April 2012), it costs five dollars to park on the official lots on either side of the river (Poughkeepsie or Highland). On a nice day, the lots on both sides get full. You can overflow park along Haviland Road outside the parking lot on the Highland side (or in the free rail trail lot next to the Walkway lot), and I’ve always been able to find a spot at the eastern end of Brookside Ave on the Poughkeepsie side (you can park all along the side of the road there), about a block from the park entrance. I usually just park in the main lots if I can — it’s hard to think of a better way to spend five bucks.
Directions to the Poughkeepsie trailhead: Poughkeepsie can be a maze, and the directions to the parking lot will be very different depending on which direction you’re coming from. I recommend checking out the Walkway over the Hudson (Poughkeepsie entrance) entry on the HiketheHudsonValley.com Google map to figure out the best way here.
Sorta nearby address for your GPS: The eastern parking lot for the Walkway is at this address:
61 Parker Ave
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Directions to the Highland trailhead: From Rt 9W in Highland, take the first turn north of the Mid-Hudson Bridge exit onto Haviland Road (right turn if you’re heading north on Rt. 9W). The entrance to the Walkway is on your left in less than a mile.
You can also get directions by checking out the Walkway over the Hudson (Highland entrance) entry on the HiketheHudsonValley.com Google map.
Sorta nearby address for your GPS: The West Entrance/Park Office for the Walkway is at this address:
87 Haviland Road
Highland, NY 12528
(Google Maps shows that address at the top of Haviland Road, just off of 9W. Just keep heading straight on Haviland Road and you’ll be at the entrance in just a moment.)
Related resources: If you’re looking for actual facts and/or useful information, visit these excellent resources:
- New York State Parks page for the Walkway
- The Walkway’s Facebook page (with lots of great updates and photos)
More Walkway over the Hudson pictures from the hike’s Picasa album:
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