The Long Road to Protecting the Long Path Trail
OSI, along with our partners at the NYNJ Trail Conference and Friends of the Shawangunks, has long recognized the Long Path Trail as significant public open space and a recreational asset. Starting at the western abutment of the George Washington Bridge, the 347-mile long trail runs from sea level salt marshes to boreal forests and 4,000 foot peaks in the Catskills.
Over the last twenty years, numerous OSI conservation efforts have helped relocate and align the Long Path Trail so that it is a “wilderness” trail rather than road walk.
The acquisition of the 3,000-acre Schunemunk Ridge in the 1990’s (now Schunemunk Mountain State Park); significant lands in the Shawangunk Mountains (including the Sam’s Point Preserve); large tracts in the Catskills (including the Lundy Estate) and a significant expansion of John Boyd Thatcher State Parks all benefit the Long Path.
Walking the Long Path
Map and text excerpted from the NYNJ Trail Conference guide to the Long Path.
Extending for over 350 miles from the George Washington Bridge to Altamont, near Albany, the Long Path is an historic trail connecting many of New York's parks, preserves, and state forest lands. Conceived in 1931 by scientist Vincent Schaefer, The Long Path was constructed in the 1960’s and 1970’s with 284 miles maintained by 74 Trail Conference volunteers and member groups.
The Long Path begins in Fort Lee on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge. For the first twelve miles to the New York State line, it follows along the Palisades through the Palisades Interstate Park. There are spectacular views of the Hudson River and New York City along the way.
In New York, the Long Path turns away from the Hudson River between Piermont and Upper Nyack, and continues to follow the Palisades Escarpment to its end in Mt. Ivy. Much of the route is through State Parks but the trail also links smaller county and town parks. There are extensive views of the lower Hudson River Valley along the way, with dramatic vistas on Hook Mountain and High Tor.
Leaving the Palisades, the Long Path enters Harriman State Park, passing through the park in a northwesterly direction.
North of Harriman, the trail descends into Orange County in two sections: Schunemunk Mountain and Highland Lakes State Park. Schunemunk is a long ridge on the westernmost mountain near the Hudson. It is made up of conglomerate rock and has spectacular views east to the Hudson River and north to the Shawangunks and the Catskills.
North of Schunnemunk, the trail follows a six-mile section of the abandoned New York, Ontario and Western Railroad right-of-way.
Beyond Orange County, the Long Path climbs the Shawangunk Ridge near Wurtsboro.
During the next several miles, vistas range from High Point in New Jersey all the way to the Catskills Mountains. The northern Shawangunks are characterized by white cliffs and waterfalls. The Long Path passes Mud Pond and Lake Awosting, mountaintop lakes that are rimmed with white cliffs. The trail climbs up and passes two waterfalls, Verkeerder Kill and Rainbow Falls.
Beyond the Shawangunks, the Long Path crosses the Rondout Valley before it enters the Catskill Park. The Long Path continues through the Catskill Park for 95 miles and climbs nine of the major peaks including Slide Mountain, the highest in the Catskills. Several lean-tos are located along the trail.
Leaving the Catskill Park, the trail passes over a series of 2,900 foot peaks on private property, and follows Huntersfield Ridge to Gilboa, passing through State Reforestation Areas. North of Gilboa, the trail follows the western ridge of the beautiful Schoharie Valley. The trail passes through Mine Kill Falls State Park and the Blenheim-Gilboa Visitors Center of the New York State Power Authority, then heads west and north through another series of reforestation areas.
East of Patria, the Long Path descends to the Schoharie Valley crossing Vroomansland then ascends Vroman's Nose, the promontory that rises 600 feet above the Schoharie Valley. From Vroman's Nose, the Long Path crosses the Schoharie Valley through the Village of Middleburgh, then ascends the cliffs, where there are views back to Vroman's Nose.
Past the cliffs, the trail leaves the Schoharie Valley as it turns east, crossing State Forests to reach Partridge Run Wildlife Management Area in Albany County. In Partridge Run, the Long Path follows mostly cross-country ski trails, past lakes and streams with occasional views back to the Catskills.
East of Partridge Run, the Long Path crosses private property then ascends Cole Hill State Forest as it continues east across farmland to the Helderberg Escarpment.
In the soft limestone of the Helderbergs, many caves, sinkholes and underground streams are found. The Long Path turns north and follows the escarpment to John Boyd Thacher State Park where there are many dramatic views of the Hudson Valley and the Taconics. Here, the Long Path uses the historic Indian Ladder Trail which once led to the trading post at Albany.
Thacher Park is the official northern terminus of the Long Path. The off-trail terminus is a stretch from the High Point viewing area to Old Stage Road. From there it follows on country roads to the Saratoga County line except for a small off trail venture north of the Mohawk River. Most of the roads are remote with many lovely views. Work is continuing to extend the trail north to the Mohawk River and eventually to the Adirondacks.
Help us fill in the gap of the Long Path Trail.