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Long Path/Old Erie Railroad Bed Loop (Piermont to Nyack)
This loop hike traverses historic Rockland Cemetery, goes through the remains of a pre-World War I rifle range and returns via a rail-trail with views over the Hudson River.
Moderate to Strenuous
Allowed on leash
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Trail Conference volunteers maintain trails in this park.
Take the Palisades Interstate Parkway to Exit 4. Continue on Route 9W north for about three miles, until the road detours down a hill. Bear right at the bottom of the hill and turn right, at the next traffic light, onto Ferdon Avenue. Follow Ferdon Avenue for about 0.7 mile, and continue ahead as the road turns sharply left and becomes Piermont Avenue beyond the next intersection. At the following intersection, bear right onto Gair Street, and park in the municipal parking lot to the left.
Walk back to 450 Piermont Avenue (the building with a large mural painted on it) and turn right onto Tate Avenue, a narrow street which heads uphill, soon curving to the right. You will notice the aqua blazes of the Long Path, which you will follow for the next six miles. When you reach a flight of stairs on the left, climb the stairs, and continue uphill along a footpath that leads to Ash Street at the site of the former Piermont railroad station. Turn left here and follow Ash Street uphill as it curves to the right. At the next intersection, turn left onto Piermont Place, then turn right onto Crescent Road, which soon curves to the left. When the driveable road ends, continue ahead, then turn right at a double blaze just beyond a house with a wooden fence, and reach U.S. Route 9W.
Follow the Long Path as it turns right, briefly following Route 9W. Almost immediately, it turns left onto Castle Road, which soon curves to the right. Just past a gate, where the paving ends, the Long Path turns right and continues through the woods. It soon rejoins the road, which leads into Rockland Cemetery. At the next intersection, turn sharply right and follow the paved cemetery road as it climbs to the crest of the Palisades, making a sharp switchback to the left on the way. After about half a mile, the road reaches the upper section of the cemetery. Bear right at the fork in the road, then bear left at the next intersection. You will pass the monuments marking the graves of Henry Honeychurch Gorringe, who brought Cleopatra's Needle from Egypt, and of General John Charles Fremont, the first Republican candidate for President of the United States (he lost the election to James Buchanan in 1856).
As the road curves left, you will notice a sign setting forth the cemetery's rules. Here the Long Path turns right, leaving the cemetery, and reenters the woods, soon entering Clausland Mountain County Park. In another 0.7 mile, the Long Path turns sharply left, as an orange-blazed woods road continues straight ahead uphill. This orange trail leads in 0.3 mile to a parking area on Nike Lane and rejoins the Long Path in 0.6 mile. Follow the Long Path as it descends to cross a stream and then climbs to its second junction with the orange-blazed trail. Here, the Long Path turns left and begins a steady descent. At the base of the descent, it crosses a stream on a wooden bridge and ascends rather steeply to reach Clausland Mountain Road, 3.3 miles from the start of the hike.
The Long Path crosses the road and goes through a parking area for Tackamac Town Park, where it descends on a series of woods roads. Pay careful attention to the blazes here. It reaches a water impoundment by an old dam and turns right, following a stream, then turns left and crosses the stream on a wooden bridge. After crossing paved Marsico Court in a residential area, the trail enters Blauvelt State Park, passing through several stands of evergreens.
In another half a mile, the Long Path climbs over an embankment, descends a short set of wooden steps, and turns right on a woods road. This embankment is the site of the rifle range of Camp Bluefield, a pre-World War I National Guard training camp. It was abandoned after only three years because bullets often landed in the Village of Grand View, on the eastern side of the ridge! At the end of the embankment, you will note the entrance to a long concrete tunnel that served as a safe passage between the target wall and the firing line. The tunnel can be entered, but extreme caution must be exercised.
The Long Path turns right at a T-intersection, swings left, then turns left at a four-way intersection (where the blazes may be hard to find). It descends to a T-intersection, where it turns right to cross a stream, then climbs steadily to Tweed Boulevard. It crosses the road and continues uphill to an expansive southwestern-facing viewpoint over the Hackensack River valley. The Tappan Zee is to the left, and in the distance, both New York City (to the left) and Newark may be seen on a clear day. You've now gone 5.3 miles from the start, and this is a good place to take a lunch break.
The trail continues along the ridge, with some ups and downs. To the right, there are seasonal views through the trees of the Tappan Zee Bridge and Nyack. In another half a mile, it begins a steady descent, finally emerging onto Bradley Hill Road. You will now leave the route of the Long Path and follow a series of roads downhill to reach the Village of South Nyack. Turn right onto Bradley Hill Road, then left at the next intersection. Continue downhill, past the athletic fields of Nyack College. At the following intersection, continue straight ahead onto Terrace Drive, then turn sharply left onto Lowland Drive, which switchbacks to the right and ends at Hillside Avenue (Route 9W). Turn left and, in about 200 feet, turn right and cross over the New York Thruway. Bear left at the fork in the road, and make the first right onto Clinton Avenue.
You will immediately come to the Old Erie Railroad Bed. This is the route of the Nyack spur of the Northern Railroad of New Jersey, later the Erie Railroad, which provided passenger service to Jersey City. Built in 1870, the line was abandoned in the late 1960s and has been converted into a rail-trail. Turn right and follow this delightful, nearly level trail for three miles back to Piermont, with intermittent views to the left over the Tappan Zee Bridge and the river. You will notice old telegraph poles along the right-of-way and, near Piermont, you may spot a concrete marker on the left with the inscription "JC 25" -- indicating the distance to Jersey City. When you reach the old Piermont station, cross the street and follow the footpath down to Tate Street, then turn right and continue to Piermont Avenue, the start of the hike.