If you want a hike with it all, head to Palisades Interstate Park which spans for miles along the shores of the Hudson River. Giant Stairs is an exhilarating rock scrambling trek spanning two states with dramatic panoramas, palisade cliffs, and hidden treasures along the way.
Length: 5.5 mile loop
Difficulty: Moderately strenuous, 800+ foot elevation gain
Parking: State Line Lookout, Palisades Interstate Park – restrooms, cafe, no fee
Without moving much of a muscle from the State Line Lookout parking lot you can enjoy the incredible views along the paved path Old Route 9W heading north (or left from the parking lot) as it runs parallel with the river.
The namesake palisade cliffs are home to many vultures, a perfect spot to soar down and catch the thermals.
As the trail veers away from the views, you’ll want to make a right onto Trail A which stays close to the cliffs. You will follow from New Jersey for a brief interlude into New York, passing a border monument to signify the crossing
and a geological marker along the way.
There are many interesting and precarious looking geological formations to stop and ponder.
As you descend steeply turn onto the white blazed Shore Trail which you will remain for the next two miles.
Pass by Peanut Leap Cascade which was not very impressive during my visit, but supposedly after a good rainfall it is magnificent. What I did find was the stone ruins of an old Italian style garden.
There is also a nice swing hanging from a tree. Enjoy these pleasantries, because once you reach Giant Stairs the party is over. This massive jumble of rocks towers over the river and each step must be calculated.
It is a ton of fun to navigate, a great challenge, and you can’t beat those views.
You think it’s over when the trail becomes more relaxed, but then a bit of a scramble once more before turning into the woods. This is the peaceful calm before the next storm. From here you turn onto the blue and white blazed Forest View Trail to ascend brutally back up to the top of the cliffs.
You’ll be happy to see the path level off after a steady climb, you are close to completing the circuit. Just make a right when the trail hits a junction on to Trail A. A quick right to remain on Trail A. And one more right on Trail F to find yourself back in the parking lot now completing the Giant Stairs loop!
+There are many other recreational opportunities on the 30 miles of trail at the parking. Less strenuous options such as simple strolls on the flat paved path or picnicking are perfect for all abilities.