Soaring 212 feet above the Hudson River is the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge known as Walkway Over the Hudson. Attracting over 500,000 visitors from around the world annually, the 1.28 mile bridge links the counties of Ulster and Dutchess in New York, and offers opportunities to exercise, eat, and explore. Easily accessible by the Metro-North Hudson Line, the twenty-minute trek from the Poughkeepsie Train Station will soon have you strolling on the Walkway to enjoy the magnificent view of the Hudson River and Mid-Hudson Bridge. If entering from Highland, you can first enjoy a bike ride for several miles on a paved path before crossing over the bridge. Walkway Over the Hudson is your gateway to seeing two communities on both sides of the Hudson River.
Formerly known as the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge, this immense steel structure built in 1888 provided railroad access to 3,500 freight cars a day. A fire in 1974 damaged the bridge, destroying one of the key transportation hubs in the area. The bridge was saved by Walkway Over the Hudson, a grassroots nonprofit organization, whose mission was to preserve the bridge and transform it to what it is today. The Dyson Foundation, founded by Charles and Margaret Dyson, has committed over $2 million since 2007 to the planning and engineering of the project. After 35 years, Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park opened on October 3, 2009 and has been frequented by nearly two million visitors.
I had the opportunity to walk the bridge and enjoyed it so much that I returned for a second time within the same week. Starting out from the Highland side, you have to walk a short distance with trees on either side of you before it opens to this amazing view of the Mid-Hudson Bridge and the Hudson River. Intense wind whipped around so much my first time on the bridge that it sounded like a train whistle the entire way. It was a pleasure to see such an attraction built for the locals to enjoy as well as the tourists to visit.
Walkway Over the Hudson is a host for charity walks throughout the year. A walk for Alzheimer’s was held last weekend, and the Walkway’s annual fundraising event, Starry Starry Night is taking place on October 4, 2013.
Although Walkway Over the Hudson Historic State Park offers a breathtaking experience as is, construction is underway to build a 21-story waterfront elevator that will link the Poughkeepsie shoreline to the Walkway. Plans include building a Visitors Center which will host a variety of activities and educational programs. Walkway Over the Hudson works diligently with supporters to fulfill their vision for this world renowned park in the sky. Ongoing contributions are necessary to achieve these goals and membership levels may be found at the website.
While enjoying Walkway Over the Hudson, take some time to explore some of the other things to do in the area. Ulster County is rich in wineries and farming, and home to the well-known Mariner’s Restaurant on the Hudson. The City of Poughkeepsie has a Children’s Museum, eateries, shops, and cultural activities within walking distance of the bridge. Plan to spend the day and enjoy the beautiful Hudson Valley.