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Cross-Country Ski Trail Loop from State Line Lookout
This loop hike runs, for part of the way, close to the cliffs of the Palisades, with good views across the river.
Allowed on leash
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Take the Palisades Interstate Parkway north to the exit for the State Line Lookout, about two miles north of Exit 2, and follow the access road to the parking lot for the lookout. If you are coming south on the Parkway, there is a U-turn available just south of Exit 3.
The hike begins at the rear of the parking area at the State Line Lookout, at a sign for the "Ski Trails." Follow the wide path, marked with the aqua blazes of the Long Path, into the woods. You'll soon reach a junction where the Long Path turns left and Trail A comes in from the left and proceeds ahead. Continue ahead on the wide path. Just beyond, you'll come to another junction. Here, you should turn right onto Trail C. Although the grades are moderate for hiking and snowshoeing, there are a number of relatively sharp curves, and the grades are rather steep for cross-country skiing.
At the base of the descent, the trail crosses a stone-faced culvert over a stream. Soon, it reaches a Y-intersection, where the Ski Trails D begins to the left. Bear right, continuing to follow Trail C, which descends slightly to cross another culvert and then goes up a little to reach an abandoned concrete road. This wide roadway was built in 1926 as a New Jersey state highway (it was subsequently designated US 9W), but it was abandoned in the 1950s when the Palisades Interstate Parkway was constructed.
Turn right and follow the wide road for about 100 feet, then bear left onto Trail E (marked by a sign). This ski trail proceeds north, parallel to the old concrete road, then bears right (east) and begins to climb on moderate grades that are not difficult for hiking but can be challenging for cross-country skiing. Soon, it reaches a junction with another trail - the route of the aqua-blazed Long Path.
Follow Ski Trail E as it bends very sharply to the right and begins to run parallel to the Palisades cliffs. Especially in the winter, there are views through the trees over the Hudson River. The trail climbs a little more, then descends slightly and bears right, away from the river. In about half a mile from the sharp bend, it rejoins the old Route 9W. Bear left and follow the abandoned roadway southward. You're now once again close to the edge of the cliffs, with excellent views to the left of the road.
A short distance ahead, you'll reach the State Line Lookout. To the left, Point Lookout offers an outstanding vista over the river, both north and south, with the Tappan Zee Bridge visible to the north. Lookout Inn, where refreshments, books and maps are available, is directly across the road, and the parking lot where you began the hike is just beyond.