At the tiptop of Manhattan Island, Inwood Hill Park offers picturesque views of the Hudson River. For one of the best views, follow the marker at Shorakkopoch Rock (see map at the end of the post), the legendary place where Peter Minuit was said to have bought the island for 60 guilders, and follow the ridge up the slope. The path leads gently higher and higher, with views of the Salt Marsh down below and then the underside of the Henry Hudson Bridge above. This spot along the ridge is well known among birders, as the height and the proximity to the Hudson River allow access to treetops and places where birds like to go.
|View of Henry Hudson Bridge from Muscota Marsh in Inwood Hill Park. Look for the path on the left that leads up and under the bridge. This post will explain how to cross the bridge on foot.|
Keep going around the bend and past the bridge. A few spots of open pavement at the edge of the hill provide good views of the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge, a swing bridge that carries train traffic to and from Penn Station. The bridge was recently upgraded. On the opposite shore of Spuyten Duyvil Creek, you’ll likely see Metro-North trains coming round the bend, either heading north toward Poughkeepsie or south to Grand Central Terminal. Look toward the north up river. On a clear day the white sails of the new Tappan Zee Bridge feel like an apparition. The tall basalt cliffs of the Palisades line the river on the Jersey side.
|The path from Inwood Hill Park|
The path leads to the Hudson River side and views of the ballparks at the river’s edge. At an early juncture, another path cuts abruptly up and back toward the northeast. Take that one, as the path leads to the bridge. The pedestrian path of the Henry Hudson Bridge has recently re-opened, and it’s a fun way to walk from Manhattan to the Bronx (or vise versa).
|One of the best perches - the path offers great view of the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge, the Palisades, and landmarks father north.|
Walking the bridge pathway, it must be said, is not entirely pleasant, as the path runs directly next to oncoming traffic. On a windy day, the wind can be intense. The fencing on the west side often obstructs rather than reveals a bird’s eye view of the river. Nevertheless, a few openings in the metal fencing are good enough for this purpose. Another drawback of the pathway is the feeling, once crossing the river, that there’s no place to ever get out. Eventually, an opening appears and spills out into a residential neighborhood near Kappock Street. Be patient.
|The view from the Henry Hudson Bridge pedestrian path|
The end of this walk leads to Henry Hudson Park, a modest but charming park that’s dominated by an impressively tall monument to Henry Hudson himself. The park commemorates the explorer, but the monument is the doing of NYC Park Commissioner Robert Moses, the powerful city planner who shaped the city at the height of the Great Depression. Sculptor Karl Bitter crafted the bronze sculpture of Hudson, now a bright blue. The explorer is a little hard to see because he is so lofty on top of the tall Doric column, but the captain’s firm stance of commanding the Half Moon, is quite clear. (Read more on the NYC Parks page.)
|Henry Hudson monument in Henry Hudson Park. You'll see this after walking across the Henry Hudson Bridge. |
Did I mention Henry Hudson?
The whole point of the Henry Hudson Bridge and Henry Hudson Park was to link the neighborhoods of Inwood in Manhattan with Spuyten Duyvil in the Bronx. Now with the pedestrian path open, the two can be enjoyed together again in a leisurely stroll from up on high.
|base of the Henry Hudson monument|
Getting back to the city can be tricky, especially if you’ve decided that walking back across the bridge would be tedious. If feeling a little adventurous, wander down the hill to the Spuyten Duyvil Metro-North station and take a train back to the city. If wild and free, take the train north somewhere (Peekskill, Cold Spring, Beacon, etc.), as the Hudson Line straddles the river for much of the journey. While waiting at the station, and there will be a wait, take a look at the marvelous landscape at the river’s edge and keep an eye out for bald eagles. Not many people picture Manhattan or the Bronx this way at all.
Speaking of wildlife, at this writing, there have been sightings of coyotes in Inwood Hill Park. Yes, really. So be on the lookout for a pack of four-legged creatures that appear to be skipping school. Just keep a safe distance. I wonder how they got here. Do you think they took the bridge?
Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from January 2020.