As I mentioned in the post about the World’s Largest Kaleidoscope, I ♥ the Hudson Valley! I look past the winter weather in anticipation of the bright, verdant springs and the brilliant snap of fall. (Exception: last winter’s ice storm which knocked out power for three days; that one left a mark.)
It’s the valley topography which lends itself to amazing scenery of undulating tree-covered hills and mountains. (It’s also the perfect holding vessel for seasonal pollen, which brings on the annual allergy attack and sinus infection, but again, LOVE the HudVal!)
Where we went, and who was coerced into going:
Last year, the Hudson Valley earned its place on the tourism map with the opening of the Walkway Over the Hudson, which is The World’s Longest Elevated Pedestrian Bridge.
We’ve been a few times since then, as a family of four, and twice more when out-of-town family has visited.
Was coercion necessary? If by coercion you mean “put on the big girl panties and force a brave face in front of the kids because you are too chicken shit to go all the way up there on an open-air bridge,” then yes, I had to coerce myself into going. I also had to convince my son (Trip #1) and my brother (Trip #2), because we all share the gene for “fear of open heights.”
It’s also one of the reasons why Matt and I could never win the Amazing Race. Well, that, and my inability to drive stick shift.
WHY did you go there, exactly?
The lure of the river’s scenic landscape draws pedestrians, hikers, joggers, bicyclists, and rollerbladers to this sky-high, midair park. We were intrigued. I wasn’t going to let a silly fear of heights stop me, as it almost had when we went to the World’s Largest Rotating Globe.
A breathtaking birds-eye view is your reward for braving the Walkway, which ascends 212 feet above the water at midpoint. But it’s actually the span — 6,767 feet, or 1.25 miles – which breaks the world record.
Okay, what was so cool about it?
We accessed the Walkway from the Poughkeepsie side. Once you start out, you walk over city streets and riverfront for 15 minutes before you even begin to cross the river. Even the land views are entertaining. The kids stopped to watch the Amtrak train taking passengers at the Poughkeepsie station underneath us. I started a game of “I Spy a Church Steeple,” finding six emerging from different spots in the tree canopies.
Once we were on the span, my legs started getting a little jellified. Especially when The Girl headed straight for the railing. Granted, it’s over 4-feet tall and impossible to climb, but I still sent Matt over to retrieve her each time (because my legs refused to move me anywhere near the sides.)
The Walkway is also an inspirational example of recycling on a gargantuan scale. It was created by renovating the historic Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge, which provided train passage from 1889 until 1974, when a fired damaged its tracks. For decades, it stood in disrepair, unused. A preservationist group began raising funds over a decade ago, confident that the $35 million renovation cost would be far less than the cost to dismantle it. They were right, and use of the bridge in its new life has far exceeded anyone’s projections!
Some “good-to-know” info about the place:
You can access this linear state park from Highland or Poughkeepsie, and you’re welcome to bring your bike or skates. The bridge connects 27 miles of rail trails and riverfront parks in Ulster County on the west bank, and Dutchess County to the east.
There is no entrance fee, but if you drive to the access point on the Poughkeepsie side, parking is $5.00.
How it rated on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 = snoozefest, 10 = add to your bucket list):
9!! We haven’t awarded any site a 10, yet. I’m saving it for the World’s Largest Ball of Twine, which—mark my words—we will see someday!
But if you find yourself anywhere remotely close to the Walkway Over the Hudson, you must make it there. You just can’t get this vantage point anywhere else.
Hey you! Go BIG!:
Open 7:00 a.m. – sunset, year-round, weather permitting.
Entrances on Parker Avenue in Poughkeepsie, and Haviland Road in Highland. Click here for detailed maps.