I live pretty close to the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, also less formally known as Palisades Park Hiking Trails. Unfortunately, even though I have been living in NJ for five years, I haven’t taken advantage of the great hiking trails that are located just up the road. A few years ago, I kept driving past the sign for the park by the George Washington Bridge and I finally decided to look up what the park had to offer. I found a long list of trails and decided to start exploring. However, that was easier said than done. Finding the proper entrances to the park was difficult and very frustrating. I drove up and down the Palisades Parkway, through side roads, u-turns, illegal turns and finally I found my way. The hikes were very nice but getting there stressed me out so much that it wasn’t worth it.
Anyway, this year I was able to find easy ways to drive to the hikes and would like to share them so others can avoid the same frustration.
There is a secret entrance at the south end of the park right in Edgewater, NJ. To find this entrance, drive north on River Road past Rusty Kale’s Pub and abandoned houses and look for a street called Burdett on your left. Just past that road will be an entrance on your right. The sign is back too far to see from the road but it will be your first right past Burdett. There is also a pretty new building complex right across from the entrance. This entrance will put you on the main road of the park that will lead to most hiking and parking areas. This map of the park itself might be helpful to get your bearings on the main part of the southern end of the park.
Another entrance to the park is right at the base of the George Washington Bridge. This entrance will not lead you directly to the many hikes the park has to offer, but it does have a few interesting spots. Here is where you will find great views of the GWB . You will also find the Fort Lee Historic Park and the visitor’s center.
I initially parked here to hike the Carpenter’s Loop but found that there is actually only direct access to a few short paths that don’t allow dogs – but they do have a great view of the GWB. In order to get to the trails I wanted, you have to walk back down the roadway, under the bridge along the busy Hudson Terrace, to the metal open staircase and then to the trail. Because I had the dogs and I didn’t want to walk them on the busy road, I chose to not attempt these hikes. Instead, I ventured over to the other side of the parking lot behind the nature/visitor center into the Fort Lee Historic Park. Dogs were also not allowed here, but I figured since it was a weekday off-season and the area was not heavily populated, I would risk it. The ruins are well maintained and have interesting signage.
I also traveled to Allison Park which was located just south of St. Peter’s College and near what seemed to be someone’s house. (When traveling north on Hudson terrace turn right after Charlotte Place (road on left) towards St. Peter’s College. Go under the trestle and turn right to Allison Road.) This park also didn’t allow dogs so I just quickly checked out the area and was on my way. I don’t think it’s a place that I will visit again. It just didn’t seem very interesting; it was very small but peaceful. There is a narrow and not well-kept access point to the Long Path hiking trail that heads south of the park that might be worth checking out one day. I have hiked the path coming from the south but I am not sure how far I have actually gone. This trail allows dogs so it is a tad annoying that Allison Park does not.
After my stop at Allison Park, I headed out to actually walk and enjoy the day. At the Ross Dock parking area in addition to a huge grassy area and bbq spots, there are a couple of good spots to hike. If you head south either by walking or driving you will reach Carpenter’s Grove, a small grassy area with a swing that is just a tad too high for me (a 5’8” person) to comfortably swing on, picnic tables and bbq pits. There are also porta potties for your elimination pleasure. There is a small parking area here as well. Hanging out here gives you a great view of the north side of the George Washington Bridge.
On the north side of the parking area, just past the playground is a section of the Shore Trail. This is a nice, wide and very well-maintained path. It is also very well-traveled. You will encounter many other people on this trail. There are nice sections where you can sit on the sand by the water. This is a great trail for a people who want to walk, not necessarily hike.
This park is a great place to spend your day.