Soaking up great views with waterside walks in the Hudson Valley
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Get ready to walk on water, or at least alongside it.
With the Hudson River and Long Island Sound nearby, Westchester and the Hudson Valley are home to some impressive bodies of water -- and one of the best ways to view them is on foot.
"There are a myriad of opportunities to walk the shore and take in the views and explore the varying character and lifestyles of the different communities along the way," said Natasha Caputo, director of tourism and film for Westchester.
Westchester RiverWalk in Tarrytown
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MORE: Summer getaways: Cold Spring | Rye Playland open for the season | Planners aim to link RiverWalk to Rockland
With exploration in mind, we found 10 waterside walks that will allow you to take in some wonderful water views as you get your heart pumping.
For views of Long Island Sound:
Playland Park in Rye
The quarter-mile boardwalk and pier at Playland Park in Rye has long been a favorite spot for walkers looking for a relaxing stroll. Superstorm Sandy damaged the boardwalk last year, causing its temporary closure, but most of it has been repaired.
"It is a classic wooden boardwalk that passes the art deco amusement park and affords extensive views of the Sound," Caputo said. From the boardwalk visitors can check out the adjacent Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary, with more than 200 acres. The sanctuary has a nature center, educational signage and trails leading to the shore, across woodlands and along Manursing Lake. To get there from the amusement park area, follow the shoreline.
Info: 100 Playland Pkwy.; park hours vary by day and month; $10 (not including rides) or free for residents; 914-813-7010; www.ryeplayland.org
Glen Island Park
Like Playland, Glen Island Park in New Rochelle offers walkers views of Long Island Sound and Long Island in the distance. This 105-acre island property was opened in the late 1800s as a resort by John H. Starin. After Playland, Glen Island is the second most widely used park in the Westchester County parks system and is home to a variety of waterside trails and a beach. In Starin's time the early theme park exhibited the five cultures of the western world on islands that were linked by piers and causeways. The islands have since been merged, but cannons, sculptures, and castles with archways and round towers, from the old resort are still visible today.
Info: Pelham Road; open 8 a.m. to dusk; 914-813-6720; www.parks.westchestergov.com; $5 parking is available for those with a county park pass.
For city walks:
In recent years the waterfront in Yonkers, Westchester's largest city, has undergone a renaissance. At Esplanade Park in Yonkers, walkers are treated to superb views of the Manhattan skyline and the mighty Palisades on the other side of the river. The 1,000-foot walkway also features a sculpture park. Nearby, another focal point of the city's Riverwalk is Ella Park, named after famed jazz singer and Yonkers native Ella Fitzgerald.
The Riverwalk is within striking distance of a host of downtown Yonkers attractions (and the Metro-North train station) and also includes the historic Yonkers ferry pier, the only turn-of-the-century Victorian pier still in use on the Hudson River. For walkers who have worked up an appetite, the pier is home to X2O Xaviars on the Hudson restaurant, which is operated by well-known chef Peter X. Kelly.
Info: 71 Waters Grant St.; the parks on the Riverwalk are open sunrise to sunset; 914-377-6000; www.yonkersny.gov; parking is available on the street, in private lots and a nearby garage.
The views of the Hudson River in Cold Spring won't leave you cold. Sloping toward the east bank of the Hudson, the main street of this historic Putnam County village offers magnificent views and is lined with coffeehouses, antiques shops and restaurants. Following Main Street toward the river, walkers pass under the Metro-North train tracks and arrive at a picturesque waterside park that boasts a gazebo and benches overlooking the Hudson.
Two miles outside of the village along Route 9D, ambitious hikers looking for something more intense can feel the burn in their legs as they half-hike/half-climb Breakneck Ridge mountain. There's a well-marked trail up the mountain, and those not too timid to trek to the top will be rewarded with some incredible views of the river and surrounding countryside.
Info: Route your GPS to any address along main street in Cold Spring; 845-265-3611; www.coldspringny.gov; parking is available along Main Street or down one of the side streets.
For Paved Hudson River Walkways:
The Westchester RiverWalk is a planned 51.5-mile pathway that will parallel the Hudson. Once completed, it will link village centers, historic sites, parks and river access points through a series of scenic trails, esplanades and boardwalks. But for walking enthusiasts in the Hudson Valley there's no need to wait, since several portions of the trail have already been completed, including RiverWalk Tarrytown.
The portion north of the Tappan Zee Bridge is a half-mile paved walkway directly along the Hudson River. Opened in 2011 and linked to Tarrytown's Pierson Village Park, the path offers views of the Manhattan skyline and Tappan Zee Bridge all set against the backdrop of the Hudson River.
Intrepid walkers looking to put some more mileage on their legs can continue north on the path and enter the RiverWalk esplanade at Ichabod's Landing in Sleepy Hollow. The path can also be picked up again at the mile-long portion of RiverWalk Tarrytown that sits south of the Tappan Zee Bridge.
Info: 250 W. Main St., Tarrytown; open daily a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset; 914-631-8347; www.tarrytowngov.com; parking is available at several nearby lots, including the Tarrytown Recreation Department lot at 238 West Main St.
Scenic Tappan Zee Bridge
Scenic Hudson Park at Irvington
Farther south of the Tappan Zee Bridge, walkers will find more Hudson River and New York City skyline views at the Scenic Hudson Park at Irvington. Co-owned by the Village of Irvington and the Scenic Hudson Land Trust, the park boasts close to a mile of walkways that weave around the park, as well as a half-mile segment alongside the Hudson. There are also two playground areas, more than five acres of lawn and several ballfields. Fashion lovers will also note that adjacent to the park is the headquarters of the women's clothing company Eileen Fisher, at the redeveloped industrial site Bridge Street Properties.
Info: Near the intersection of Bridge and Astor Streets; open March through November, 7 a.m.-10 p.m. (7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. during the winter); 914-591-7736, www.irvingtonny.gov; there's a parking lot off Bridge Street near Bridge Street properties.
Walkway Over the Hudson
Need more than a walk along the Hudson River? Then a saunter over Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park between Poughkeepsie and Highland is in order. Built in 2009 on a once-abandoned railroad bridge, Walkway Over the Hudson is a 212-foot-high and 1.28-mile-long linear walkway spanning the river that is the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world. The paved walkway offers walkers, in-line skaters and bikers a unique way to experience the river below in all its panoramic glory. There are picnic tables at both ends and plaques detailing the bridge's history along the walking route.
Info: The east side of the walkway in Poughkeepsie is accessible off route 9G/Parker Avenue. The west side in Highland is accessible off Haviland Road; open daily from 7 a.m. till sunset; 845-834-2867; www.walkway.org; there is free parking at 87 Haviland Rd., Highland, on the north side. On the east side there is $5 parking at 61 Parker Ave., Poughkeepsie.
For more of a hike:
Camp Smith Trail
The Camp Smith Trail can be strenuous, but it rewards with panoramic views of the Hudson Valley and Bear Mountain Bridge. The trail, part of the Hudson Highlands State Park, is several miles long and will take some time to complete. Those planning to take the trek should pack water, snacks and a pair of binoculars, as the views are often well worth the physical exertion.
Info: The trail begins at the Bear Mountain Tollhouse about 2.5 miles south of Bear Mountain Bridge on Route 6/202 (Bear Mountain Bridge Road) in Cortlandt Manor; 845-225-7207, www.nysparks.com
Croton Gorge Park
Croton Gorge Park is a 97-acre park that lets visitors experience the New Croton Dam and its waterfall-like spillway up close. The dam was completed in 1906 (the "new" in its name is relative), and boasts one of the most impressive falling bodies of water south of Niagara Falls. It's also touted as the third-largest hand-hewn structure in the world, behind the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Great Wall of China. Walkers can hike to the top of the dam to a bridge that gives a close-up view of the spillway. In addition, the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail starts at the park and follows the old underground aqueduct about 40 miles to New York City, although there are breaks in the trail along the way.
Info: Route 129, Cortlandt; 8 a.m. to dusk; 914-827-9568; www.parks.westchestergov.com; free parking is available at the base of the dam on weekdays, and for $10 on weekends May through September.
Rockland Lake State Park
If you want access to hiking trails and a paved walkway, look no further than Rockland Lake State Park in Valley Cottage. The lake is on a ridge of Hook Mountain above the west bank of the Hudson River, and the park has several hiking and biking trails with some spectacular panoramic views of the Hudson River and surrounding countryside. Walkers, joggers, in-line skaters and bicyclists can also enjoy a 3.2-mile paved trail that loops around the lake. In addition, visitors can swim in a 24,140-square-foot swimming and diving pool, play tennis on six courts and play golf at the two 18-hole courses.
Info: 299 Rockland Lake Rd., Valley Cottage; $8 per vehicle; open year-round from daylight till dusk, 845-268-3020, www.nysparks.com