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Henry Hudson Drive - Palisades Interstate Park - New Jersey


When many people picture driving along the Palisades, they may think of the Palisades Interstate Parkway between Fort Lee, New Jersey, and Rockland County, New York. The views of the Hudson River from the lookouts hundreds of feet above the river are a great way to see some scenic views after you leave New York City. But because anything can happen in New Jersey, there is also a scenic drive you can take below the cliffs of the Palisades and along the river. That road is Henry Hudson Drive and it feels like it's a world away from the hustle and bustle of the parkway on top of the cliffs.

Named for the early 17th Century explorer, Henry Hudson Drive is 8.35 miles long, running parallel to the Hudson River from Edgewater, New Jersey to Alpine, New Jersey. While the road is popular with cyclists, many who prefer to call this road River Road, you'll come across people driving cars going to different areas of the Palisades as well. Henry Hudson Drive offers tremendous views of the George Washington Bridge and the Henry Hudson Bridge. There's also plenty of history to learn about as well, as far back as the American Revolution. But the history of Henry Hudson Drive is interwoven with the Palisades Interstate Park itself.

Towards the end of the 19th Century, the Palisades were used for rock quarrying, with the stone being shipped as far away as New Orleans. By 1900, public protest caused the governments of New Jersey and New York State to come together to form a unique Interstate Commission. Towards the end of the year 1900, the commission was able to halt quarrying activities and start to turn the riverfront into a public park. As the Palisades became more popular, it was decided in 1912 to build a modern road that would directly connect to a ferry that went from Englewood Landing across the Hudson River to Dyckman Street in Manhattan. The construction was completed in July 1915 and ferry service started at that time. On the New Jersey side of the river, this followed the old Palisades Mountain House carriage road to the summit of what is now Dyckman Hill Road. By 1930, over a million vehicles plus scores of pedestrians would take the ferry to Englewood Landing and beyond.  

Over time, Henry Hudson Drive was expanded as available funds warranted. The initial construction in 1912 through 1915 was just the beginning. Construction to build a road from the Englewood Landing to the Alpine Landing started. In 1917, the bridge over Greenbrook Falls was completed, but due to a lack of funding, that section of the Henry Hudson Drive was not finished until 1921. There was also an approach from Alpine to Alpine Landing that was built, which was not completed until 1922. The southern portion of the Henry Hudson Drive, which crosses under the George Washington Bridge and extends to Edgewater took much longer to build, with it not being completed until 1940.

My own trip along the Henry Hudson Drive stretched from the Ross Dock to Alpine Landing, using Dyckman Hill Road as my connector road. I managed to visit during some great autumn weather, with some fall foliage starting to make its presence felt. It was definitely nice to see the Palisades from a different angle for a change.

Hugging the curves along the switchbacks of Dyckman Hill Road as I make my way to Henry Hudson Drive.

Henry Hudson Drive was built to fit in beautifully alongside the cliffs of the Palisades.

Even the retaining walls have a lovely charm.

A line of stones guide you along the way on the Henry Hudson Drive.

From Englewood Landing, you can get great views of the Henry Hudson River in neighboring New York City. The bridge connects the boroughs of the Bronx and Manhattan.

I spy the mighty Hudson River to my right.

Henry Hudson Drive feels narrow for sure, plus you are sharing the road with cyclists. I see one way up ahead.

The bridge over Greenbrook Falls.

The 250-foot-tall Greenbrook Falls was running pretty dry that October afternoon. It must look pretty nice during the spring flow.

Back on Henry Hudson Drive heading north towards Alpine Landing. I'll let the next few photos speak for themselves.

Now at Alpine Landing.

Cranking up that zoom lens to get a photo of the George Washington Bridge in the distance.

The southerly view looks quite nice.

That is Yonkers, New York on the other side of the Hudson River there. For a number of years, starting in 1923, there was ferry service that connected Yonkers with Alpine Landing across the river.

A view of the top of the Palisades. Those cliffs are roughly 350 feet tall.

The Kearney House at Alpine Landing, which was built in the 1760s. It was used as a family home, a tavern and a park police station at different stages of its existence.

Historical marker regarding the Old Alpine Trail, which was used by British troops during the American Revolution.

Close-up of the historical marker. There is some debate as to whether or not British troops under the command of Cornwallis ever used the Old Alpine Trail, or even if it was named the Old Alpine Trail in 1776.

Regardless, here's a view of the Palisades looking towards the north.

That cliff in view of the Palisades may be the State Line Lookout. There are some nice hiking trails that lead to such places the Giant's Stairs, as well as a New Jersey-New York boundary marker, a café and an old alignment of US 9W that you can explore.

In the far distance, you can see part of the old Tappan Zee Bridge. When I took these photos in October 2014, the old bridge was still in service, but work was being done on its replacement bridge.

Now driving south towards Ross Dock. While my driving route may be inefficient, this was a spur of the moment trip detour to see the Henry Hudson Drive while I was otherwise just passing through Bergen County on my way home to Upstate New York.

Get ready to pass a runner who is just enjoying their afternoon.

The retaining walls blend in well with the surroundings.

Arriving at Ross Dock.

Admiring the Palisades.

Ross Dock is one of two places where you can see the Henry Hudson Bridge and Spuyten Duyvil from Henry Hudson Drive. The other is Englewood Landing.

I like the close-up view as well.

I'll admit, I could get even better views from a boat.

But I still enjoy nice views of the George Washington Bridge from the shore.

Time to leave Ross Dock and head back to higher ground.

To wrap things up, heading back onto the northbound Palisades Interstate Parkway. Both the Henry Hudson Drive and Palisades Interstate Parkway have been designated as the Palisades Scenic Byway, which is a New Jersey scenic byway.

How to Get There:

Sources and Links:
Palisades Interstate Parks Commission - On the Drive
Highways of Bergen County, New Jersey - Henry Hudson Drive
New York Cycling Club - River Road (Henry Hudson Drive)
Palisades Parks Conservancy - History of the Palisades Interstate Park


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