by Andrew Frey
Originally Published on NewYorkByRail.com
As a former resident of the Hudson Valley and current resident of New York City, the longing for days of bucolic serenity are encountered more often than not. With Labor Day approaching, I began to research a day-trip getaway to escape the encroaching tourist chaos before coming across an obvious choice. After living in the neighboring village of New Paltz for nearly six years, Walkway Over the Hudson was not unfamiliar to me, but it had been awhile since my last visit. Friends, coworkers, and family continue to speak of how incredible an experience it is to walk across the roaring Hudson, looking out at the landscape that surrounds it. It was now time for me to get reacquainted with this wonder.
The trip began aboard a 10:20 a.m. Amtrak train from Manhattan’s Penn Station to Poughkeepsie, a trip taking less than 1.5 hours. After boarding, I nestled into my window seat with a camera, and notepad in hand. Unfortunately, the seats on the western side of the car I entered were all taken. Don’t get me wrong, the view from the eastern side is great, but cruising north in the window seat that borders the Hudson River and Palisades feels otherworldly—not to mention it offers an excess of photo opportunities. So, make sure to have your tickets ready and try to get to the boarding line early to grab this sacred seat.
My Amtrak train arrived at the historic Poughkeepsie Train Station, a four-story building modeled after Grand Central Terminus. Lit by the three original chandeliers hung in the waiting room before its opening in 1918, the station services both Amtrak and Metro-North trains and is conveniently located near the Walkway.
Taking a look at the Walkway’s Discovery Map, I quickly learned that there is much more to the Walkway than I previously experienced. Since my last visit, Walkway Over the Hudson has teamed up with the surrounding area to create the Greater Walkway Experience, an easily-accessible, walkable adventure to help visitors truly “Experience 360° of Discovery,” and that’s exactly what made this trip so enticing. So, with that in mind, I laced up my walking shoes for the amazing day ahead.
From the Poughkeepsie Train Station, it’s about a quarter-mile stroll to the Walkway’s 21-story elevator along the waterfront, or slightly more than a half mile walk to the East Gate near the Washington Street stairs via the Walkway Loop Trail. The new 4.4-mile trail allows for easy access to thrilling river views and historic points of interest. Its additional spurs connect parks and cultural attractions, allowing visitors to explore nature trails in Franny Reese State Park, miles of rail trails in Ulster and Dutchess Counties, and historic neighborhood walks, all with the ability to cross the Mid-Hudson Bridge and Walkway Over the Hudson. It’s truly the best way to experience the greater Walkway area. But whichever way you choose, you’re bound to find something interesting along the way.
If heading to the elevator, take in the beauty of the Poughkeepsie Waterfront Discovery Zone. From there, you can catch views of the Highland Landing across the river, Mid-Hudson Bridge, and of course the Walkway Over the Hudson to the north. Waryas Park, along the banks of the Hudson River, is an active area where people often picnic, take in river views on benches, jog or bike. If you’re as lucky as I was, you might even catch a seagoing bulk cargo carrier passing beneath the Walkway Over the Hudson, truly showing off how massive the footbridge really is.
Taking the longer course to the East Gate allows you to walk the full length of the Walkway, and brings you through Little Italy. En route, you’ll spot architecturally stunning churches like the Holy Comforter Church and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, and the historic, Italianate-style Pelton Mansion on N. Clover Street. At night, you can visit the Italian Center Wednesday through Friday for community dinners and dancing, and do not forget the family-run Caffè Aurora, doling out authentic Italian pastries for over 70 years.