This hike explores the northern end of the New Jersey Section of the Palisades Interstate Park, staying on top of the cliffs. For part of the way, it follows paths that have been designated by the park as "ski trails." Although these trails may be used by cross-country skiers whenever there is sufficient snow, they are also open to hikers all year round. The hike has two steep climbs, totaling...
This hike explores the northern end of the New Jersey Section of the Palisades Interstate Park, staying on top of the cliffs. For part of the way, it follows paths that have been designated by the park as "ski trails." Although these trails may be used by cross-country skiers whenever there is sufficient snow, they are also open to hikers all year round. The hike has two steep climbs, totaling about 200 vertical feet, on stone steps, but is otherwise relatively easy.
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.
After a level stretch, the trail begins to descend. At the base of the descent, it crosses a stone-faced culvert over a stream. Soon, it reaches a Y-intersection, where Trails C and D diverge. Bear left and follow Trail D, which ascends gradually to the top of a rise and then descends steadily. Unlike the wide ski trails you have been following until now, this section of Trail D has narrowed to a footpath. When you reach a fork in the trail (marked by a signpost), bear left and descend more steeply.
At the base of the descent, turn left onto a wide concrete roadway, built in 1926 as a New Jersey state highway (it was subsequently designated U.S. 9W). The road was abandoned in the 1950s when the Palisades Interstate Parkway was constructed, but the concrete road surface remains in remarkably good condition.
In about 300 feet, at the bottom of a short descent, you will notice a gate across the road. Turn right, leaving the paved road, go through a gate in a chain-link fence, and follow an unmarked footpath which descends rather steeply to cross a stream on rocks. Just beyond the stream, the trail reaches a junction with the aqua-blazed Long Path.
Turn right and follow the Long Path downhill, parallel to the stream. Soon, you'll reach another junction, marked by three white blazes on a post. Here, the white-blazed Shore Trail heads straight ahead, but you should turn right, continuing to follow the aqua-blazed Long Path, which crosses the stream on wooden bridges.
A short distance ahead, the Long Path turns sharply right and begins a steep climb on stone steps. This is the most strenuous part of the hike. At the top of the climb is High Gutter Point, a panoramic viewpoint up and down the river. To the north, you can see the Tappan Zee Bridge and Hook Mountain, the northernmost point on the Palisades along the Hudson. Across the river are the tracks of Metro-North's Hudson Line (also used by Amtrak). You'll want to take a break here to rest from the steep climb and enjoy the view, but use caution, as the drop-off is very steep. You should also be careful not to touch the poison ivy which grows in this location.
The Long Path continues ahead, passing several more viewpoints, then climbs stone steps. After going through a gate in a chain-link fence that marks the boundary between New York and New Jersey, the Long Path briefly parallels the fence. When the trail bears left, away from the fence, continue ahead for about 50 feet to see a stone monument, placed in 1882 to mark the state line.
Return to the aqua-blazed Long Path, which turns left just beyond the monument, then takes the left fork at the next intersection (along with Ski Trail E). It follows an old woods road for about half a mile to reach the Old Route 9W (a wide concrete road), then turns left along the road and follows it for a short distance back to the State Line Lookout, where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 07/14/2006 updated/verified on 09/18/2014
This loop hike follows old woods roads and footpaths north of State Line Lookout and reaches a panoramic viewpoint over the river.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.