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Walkway Over the Hudson and Franny Reese State Park from City of Poughkeepsie (East Shore)
Two state parks in the Mid-Hudson Valley offer diverse walking and hiking options, including a 1.25-mile stretch of handicapped accessible trail over the Hudson River.
Allowed on leash
Views, Handicap Accessible, Public Transportation, Historic feature
From NYS Thruway, take exit for I-84 eastbound. Cross Hudson River (toll) and take first exit immediately after toll booth. Get in left lane to go north on Route 9D. Continue on Rt. 9D about 6.6 miles to a T-intersection and traffic light in the Village of Wappingers Falls. Turn left, continuing to follow Route 9D. At major intersection, turn north (left) onto Route 9. Go approximately 4 miles to City of Poughkeepsie then watch for signs for Railroad Station. Park where you can.
Metro-North Hudson Line to Poughkeepsie
Many know about the still-new Walkway Over the Hudson Historic State Park, the repurposed former railroad bridge that links Poughkeepsie and Highland in the mid-Hudson region. Fewer are aware of a second new park that connects to the Walkway: Franny Reese State Park, 250 wooded acres with 2.6 miles of trails on the steeply sloped west bank of the river just south of the Franklin D. Roosevelt (Mid-Hudson) Bridge.
A hike of almost 6 miles is possible by adding the trails of Franny Reese to the 3.6-mile Walkway Loop Trail over the two bridges. The route is accessible by train as well as by car, and this description starts from the Poughkeepsie train station. Even if you're driving, this is not a bad place to start; weekend parking is free and it's just a 15-minute city walk to the Walkway access. Also, a parking fee is charged in the official lots.
From the main, east-facing entrance of the station, head uphill, trending left until you come to an intersection with a fenced-in playground on the northeast corner. A Walkway Loop Trail sign-follow them all the way-points to the right. In less than 100 yards, turn left across a greenspace (unless you want to head first for the Aurora Café that is straight ahead-a long-time Poughkeepsie landmark). Turn left again, cross over the Fallkill Creek, make a right onto Verrazzano Blvd., and continue until you reach Washington St., where you will make a left, then a right onto Parker Ave.
The entrance is down the street. The Walkway is open 7am till sunset.
The next part is easy: go west, a straight 1.25 miles over the Hudson. This part of the hike is handicapped accessible.
From the Walkway's Highland portal, pass through the parking area, and turn left down Haviland Road. In 0.5 mile you will reach Johnson-Iorio Park, a small terrace overlooking the Hudson River. Look for a staircase just before the Mid-Hudson Bridge. Go down it and turn right. You are now on a broad path in Franny Reese State Park. An interpretive kiosk and map are at this entrance.
Follow the path (yellow blazes) uphill to a junction with a blue-blazed path. A sign points to the one clear overlook in this park. From the overlook, continue to follow the blue blazes.
Under a powerline, this trail reconnects with the yellow trail. If you turn right you will emerge at a car-access entrance, where a kiosk displays a map and some park history. Return to the powerline, and to another junction, where a white trail heads south. Follow this 1.76-mile trail, which will loop back north, passing many stone walls and the ruins of structures. The side of the loop nearest the river is quite pretty. The park is pretty well covered with trees, so scenic views are scarce to nonexistent (especially when trees are full of leaves).
The white trail returns to the yellow trail; follow it downhill and back under the bridge. Climb the stairs, and cross the Mid-Hudson Bridge, following the Walkway Loop Trail signs through a residential area, making a left onto Rinaldi Blvd., which will take you back to the train station.
Maps for both the Walkway Loop and Franny Reese State Park can be downloaded online. For links, click on the park names in the summary box above.