I love when communities find new uses for spots that have been long abandoned by industry, and the Walkway Over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie is just that.
The Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park opened to the public in 2009 on an adapted train bridge that had originally opened as the longest bridge in the world in 1889. At 1.28 miles long, the bridge is the second-longest pedestrian bridge in the world and the longest pedestrian bridge that has been readapted and crosses a major body of water.
When the bridge originally opened for trains in 1889, it was known as the Poughkeepsie-Highland Bridge and, as it does today, spanned from Dutchess County to Ulster County. It carried mostly freight traffic but did also carry some passenger trains as well.
The bridge was in use by the railroad until the tracks were burned in a fire in 1974 that was likely caused by the breaks of a freight train.
Today, this bridge draws hundreds of thousands of walkers and bikers wanting to experience this historic spot and the amazingly beautiful views along the bridge as it crosses high above the Hudson River.
Wanting to experience this spot for myself, I stopped by on a beautiful day in October. And, despite being a holiday and a stunning day, the bridge was busy but not so busy that I couldn’t enjoy and appreciate it.
While there is an access point at each end of the bridge, as well as connections on each end to rail trails that allow you to extend your visit, especially if you’re on a bicycle, I opted to take the elevator located along the banks of the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie.
This elevator can be accessed from Upper Landing Park in Poughkeepsie and, during operating hours, is manned by an elevator operator who makes continuous trips up and down the 21 stories from the river to the bridge.
This ride is fast, free, and a great way to quickly get onto the portion of the bridge that heads over the river. Just note that the elevator is only open on specific days between April and Thanksgiving and closes before sunset (though the bridge itself is open 365 days a year). If you miss the last elevator in the evening, you’ll have to walk to the end and either get a taxi or walk back to the river (which would be an extra 1.5 miles of walking).
The elevator ride to the top is fast and the large glass windows on the outside offer fantastic views of the river and the underside of the bridge.
Once atop the bridge, 212 feet above the Hudson River, you can walk in either direction, but I opted for the 3/4 mile walk over the river and to the end at the parking area in Highland, NY.
This route is incredibly pleasant and the views are quite astounding both upriver and downriver. However, in my opinion, the best views are downriver towards the Mid-Hudson Bridge, which is quite a stunning bridge on its own) and towards the rolling hills of the Hudson Highlands.
Along the way, there are several areas with benches if you need to rest. There are also some viewfinders you can pay to use if you want even better views from the bridge, as well as historic signs that offer some great insight into the bridge and the area surrounding it.
Once you reach the western end of the bridge, there is a historic train station, a parking area, and a connection to the Hudson Valley Rail Trail. While you could continue going west, I opted to turn back around and walk back to the elevator (where I just barely made the last elevator of the evening).
Overall, the Walkway Over the Hudson is a phenomenal spot to check out and something that everyone who finds themselves in the Poughkeepsie area should definitely make a point of checking out.
Where to Park for the Walkway Over the Hudson
There are three main parking areas for the Walkway Over the Hudson.
If you want to use the elevator in the middle of the bridge, you’ll want to head to Victor C. Waryas Park along North Water Street. This park features a large parking lot that can be found at the following coordinates: 41.707392, -73.940095.
It should be noted that this parking lot is called the 75 North Water Street Parking, but it’s actually a short distance down the road from that address, so the coordinates are a better option to use.
From this parking area, head upstream and follow the path for a five-minute walk to the elevator along the river.
This elevator is open on weekends from April to Memorial Day and then seven days a week until Thanksgiving. The exact hours vary during the season.
If you’d rather park at one of the ends or are visiting when the elevator isn’t open, the parking lot on the Ulster County side (western banks) of the river will provide you with the fastest access to the portion of the bridge over the Hudson River. This parking lot can be found at the following address: 87 Haviland Rd, Highland, NY 12528.
There is also a parking area on the Poughkeepsie side of the river that can be found at 49 Parker Ave, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601.
It should be noted that all three parking areas provide handicapped accessible access to the Walkway Over the Hudson, which means that this spot is accessible to all visitors.
[Click here for information on how to use the coordinates in this article to find your destination.]