Carpenter's Trail Video

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Bottom of Stone Steps of Carpenter's Trail  by Hudson River
Carpenter's Trail in the Fort Lee, NJ section of Palisades Interstate Park is a 0.2 mile long stone stair path that brings you from Shore Trail along the banks of the Hudson River 300 feet up to the top of the Palisades and connects with The Long Path.

Stair climbing is a great low-impact cardio workout. At a good pace it can get my heart rate in Zone 4 or Zone 5 which is where my heart rate is when I'm jogging or running but stair climbing doesn't have the joint strain associated with running.

My last trip up Carpenter's Trail I decided to record it and I'm posting it here in case any one wants to get an idea of what it's like before heading out.

I've been busy the past few months and have a habit of getting a little out of shape during the winter. I'm not as in good shape as I was this time this year. I decided to go out for a 6+ mile hike/run in the park (mostly hike but more jogging than I expected) to slowly get back into running.

The final leg was the stair climb. Since I haven't been as active lately and because I had already been out for over 80 minutes I decided to take the stair climb at a slow pace and try to keep my heart rate under 160bpm which is towards the top of my Zone 3 range. I'm using my Timex Heart Rate Monitor to track my effort. Based on previous experience after 2 weeks keeping up with cardio I'll feel more confident pushing myself harder.

Unless you're interested in this trail (or like getting heavy breathing crank calls) the video might be a little boring but it will give you a good sense of the stairs and some of the views. Although at the end I did spot a deer hanging out in a clearing along The Long Path. It was the first time I saw a deer this far south in the park. Sorry for recording it vertical, was just recording for my own benefit but thought others might like this.

Carpenter's Trail History

The steps were put in part as part of the Carpenter Brother's Quarry in the late nineteenth century. Around that time there was a lot of quarrying for stone and gravel. Many concerned with the preservation of The Palisades raised money to purchase the land from the quarry operators to turn it into a park. 

In 1900 the Palisades Interstate Park commission was formed by NY Governor Theodore Roosevelt and NJ Governor Foster M. Voorhees to preserve the cliffs. By 1902 $178,210.62 was used to buy the land from sixteen quarry owners, $122,500 went to the Carpenter Brothers who owned the largest quarry. The money used for the purchase from Carpenter Brothers was donated by John Pierpont Morgan (JP Morgan).

This NY Times article from September 29, 1895 discusses a few plans being floated to save the cliffs as well as a short history of how quarrying began and the destruction it caused.

Today the trail created to aid those who were blasting the cliffs is a possible trail for those that want to observe their beauty.

Carpenter's Trail Renovation

Wooden plank crossing over missing stones on Carpenter's Trail stairs.
At the end of last year a 3-4 foot section of the stairs about 2/3rds up had collapsed. I posed a picture of the damage from a December Carpenter's Loop I hike.  It was dark but you can see the boards that the trail crew placed over the collapsed section to allow safe passage.

The area has now been repaired. I wanted to take a picture of the area but the repair was so good I wasn't sure exactly where it was! Half way through the video where I look down over the left side of the stairs and then up towards the bridge is the area I believe had the collapse.

By June of this year, Trail Crew Supervisor Christina Fehre and 7 volunteers managed to move 15,000 lbs of stone to repair walls and stairs with the help of a $21,000 grant from the NJ Dept of Environmental Protection's Recreational Trails Program.

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