Clinton Point Hike - Palisades Interstate Park NJ

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Sunday, June 9, 2019
For a few years now my uncle has been telling me about this impressive waterfall he saw one time while walking along Shore Trail somewhere between Englewood Cliffs and Alpine. That's a section of the park I haven't explored very much of but I finally had the opportunity to look for the falls while doing the Clinton Point Hike.

I'm in the park frequently but normally on shorter hikes that are closer to home. When I went to do Carpenter's Loop II a few days ago, Ross Dock was closed and there was a sign from Englewood Cliffs indicating the trail was closed. I looked at the map and realized I didn't have time to do the northern hike and I'd probably want at least a snack for that duration. It's about twice as long as Carpenter's II. I was able to get through Carpenter's but the next day I decided to finally tackle Clinton Point.

It was an incredible hike and Greenbrook Falls were pretty impressive.

Clinton Point Hike Description

Length: About 8.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Duration: Under 4 hours including lunch
Type: Loop
Highlights: Hudson River views, cliff views, waterfalls, hill climb, ruins, abandoned structures.

Clinton Point Hike Overview

Palisades Interstate Park has a pdf description of the Clinton Point Hike with a map and important safety information. I wound up doing it in the opposite direction. The flyer indicates it's a 5 hour hike. I was able to complete it in about 3 hours 45 minutes including a 20 minute break for lunch.
  1. Start at the Englewood Cliffs Picnic Area and Marina. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day there is usually a fee to park. Currently $5.
  2. Head North through the picnic area towards the marina. After the marina Shore Trail (white blazes) leads into the woods past the Bloomer's Beach Info building.
  3. Continue North on Shore Trail about 3.3 miles until you get to the intersection with Huyler's Landing Trail (red blazes).
  4. Take Huyler Landing trail up the cliffs. It's 0.4 (or maybe 0.6 depending on the sign) miles with a 420 foot elevation gain.
  5. In the middle of Huyler Landing Trail you will have to make a left onto Henry Hudson Drive. Take a short walk on the road south until you see the stairs on the right where the trail continues up the cliffs.
  6. At the top, Huyler's Landing Trail intersects with The Long Path (aqua blazes).
  7. Make a left to head South on Long Path for about 3.5 miles. Along the route you'll have some small paths that lead to lookout points along the cliffs with spectacular views. Just be careful as it's a long way down. The trail also passes through Rockefeller Lookout.
  8. Where Long Path leads down a set of stairs onto the sidewalk near Dykman Hill Road, make a left and follow the road and pickup Dykman Hill Trail (yellow blazes).
  9. Make a left following the yellow blazes down a set of stone steps that leads to a water fall, continue under the overpass and make a right down the stone steps leading towards the Englewood Cliffs Picnic Area.

Clinton Point Hike Detailed Description and Pictures

The hike starts at the Englewood Cliffs Picnic Area. A nice spot to visit on it's own. The parking area is right next to the Hudson River with a view of the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge.

With most of the loop trails in Palisades Interstate Park I try to head up to Long Path first and finish on Shore Trail. Long Path is very close to Palisades Interstate Parkway and the car noise from it is constant while Shore Trail is more peaceful. Greenbrook Falls was one of the main reasons I was doing this hike and I wanted to see it early so I decided to start on Shore Trail.

Hmm.. noise... I feel a little bad. The day before I ran across three women at the Englewood Cliffs Picnic Area that were also planning on doing Carpenter's Loop but didn't because of the road closed sign. I suggested if they didn't want to do the hike anyway they might want to head up Dykman Hill and take Long Path for half the time they wanted to hike then turn around and come back. They said they were looking for a challenge, didn't have enough time to do the full Clinton Hill loop (I also don't remember seeing any water bottles.) Personally, the views along the cliffs are one of the best parts of the park and the trails that go from river to the cliffs are a great workout but I didn't factor in the road noise.

After passing through the picnic area and marina a small structure labeled "Bloomers Beach Information" will be on the right of Shore Trail.

An old stone structure on the left used to be the dressing rooms for Bloomer's Beach.

There were beaches along the Hudson River where people could sunbathe and swim. World War II and pollution in the river eventually put an end to that in 1943.

This section of Shore Trail is very narrow and also very close to the banks of the Hudson River. A short distance from the picnic area is a detour that takes a higher route to avoid high tide. It's a nice wooded trail but there are nicer views of the river along the main trail if rising water isn't an issue. It wasn't on my hike so I continued along the main trail since the last time I hiked this way I did the high tide route.

I've hiked the section of Shore Trail between Ross Dock and Englewood Cliffs many times. It's a highly maintained gravel walk that's good for walking and trail running. The sections north of Englewood Cliffs are more varied. Crushed stones, large stones, medium stones, sandy beaches and dirt trails. The stone areas wouldn't be my first choice for trail running but it's still a great hike.

As can be seen in the previous picture, the Undercliff Area beach still has some sand on it and someone decided to get some sun while I was there. Not sure if they took a dip. I wouldn't recommend it. The water has gotten cleaner but after rain, storm water carries a bunch of pollutants with it. If the pollution isn't enough of a deterrent, the currents can be dangerous and there are no lifeguards.

A little north of the beach is the Undercliff Area Bath house. It was a 2-story structure but the wood has rotted away and all that remains is the stone lower level. The beach and the bath house are easy to access from the Undercliff Picnic Area along Henry Hudson Drive if you'd like to visit but hiking isn't your thing.

The grassy area and boulders along the river are a nice spot to take a break. About 3 or 4 miles south is the George Washington Bridge and faint glimpses of Manhattan. This is the furthest north I've previously been on Shore between Englewood Cliffs and Alpine Picnic Areas

I could hear the sound of rushing water and saw a small waterfall. This couldn't have been the falls my uncle was gushing (pun unavoidable) about was it? It wasn't all that impressive.

There were various structures and even homes in the park before it was a park. Stone foundations still remain. Not exactly sure what this was. Maybe a cannon turret from the Revolutionary War? Maybe just someone's root cellar? The opening was small and I couldn't see another way in from the trail.

There were some great views of the river and old beaches along the way. I even ran across a couple of lone baby deer. One of which I got so close to the rational part of my brain had to work really hard to keep me from picking it up and taking it home. See video of baby deer on Instagram. The main reason I'm doing this hike was to see these damn falls and those puny falls couldn't have been all there was to see was it?

Finally about an hour and 20 minutes into my hike I could hear loud rushing water. This has to be Greenbrook Falls!?!?!?!

Stone ledges create a path through the brook.

I didn't know what to expect other than my uncle would get all wide-eyed when he told me about the one time he and the other older Greek guys he used to walk with extended their walk and saw these falls they would call "Niagara" because either he didn't think I knew the Greek word for waterfall or καταράχτης is harder to say. :)

The area is gorgeous. After a rain the flow is probably more but the falls are high. Not as high as Buttermilk Falls in Stokes State Forest but more volume, at least on the day I visited. The area is also more secluded. To get here you have to hike a good bit unless someone drops you off where the road intersects Huyler Landing Trail and even then you still have to hike a stretch to get here.

The picture doesn't do the experience justice. The trail opens up quite but it feels cavernous with the trees and their foliage making up the other half of the walls. It looks like you could possibly get under there and take a shower. That is if taking a shower in water that has picked up all the grime and oil off the roadways and whatever people dump in storm drains is your thing. If you're not sure... let me help you... It isn't your thing.

A relatively short distance north I could see the jetty that's at the base of Huyler Landing Trail.

Some trail signs indicate we're 3.3 miles from the Englewood Cliffs Picnic area, 1.2 miles south of the Alpine Picnic Area and Long path is 0.4 miles going 420 feet up.

I wasn't exactly sure how long this hike was going to be my guess was maybe 4 hours and I didn't have time to eat lunch beforehand so I packed a lunch. That log by the jetty seemed like a very good spot to sit and eat.

Since last October, when I started watching what I eat to lose weight again, my lunches have been pretty consistent. Turkey sandwich with spinach and pickles on whole weight, some baby carrots and hummus, and a salad with a little balsamic vinaigrette. Today was no different except I also added some yogurt and a small gatorade. Burned close to 1,000 calories on the hike and wished I packed maybe a protein bar or some trail mix too. It was in the low 80's and I drank close to 20oz of water on the hike in addition to the 8oz of gatorade. It's rare I drink anything but water these days with the occasional coffee, gatorade and beer. Mmmm Beer....

The weather was so nice and the view from the jetty relaxing but I'm not even halfway through my hike and it was time to pack up my trash and move on.

This was my first time on Huyler's Landing Trail. There are two long trails that run through the entire NJ section of Palisades Interstate Park, Long Path along the Palisades and Shore Trail along the Hudson River. 5 trails connect Shore Trail and Long Path in addition to the north end of Shore Trail. Huyler Landing Trail is one of them and the only one I've never been on in the park. I've also never done the north end of Shore trail so Peanut Leap Cascade is also on my list. It starts off very wide. The trail guide describes it as a farm road.

The road through the park, Henry Hudson Drive, intersects Huyler Landing. At the road follow the trail marks (how to read trail markers) to the left. A short way down the road the steps continuing up the cliffs will be on the right.

A reminder that you should be careful. Parts of the trail are now getting narrower and in some areas the side of the trail is a steep, but usually short drop.

Stone steps dot the trail. It's not the stone staircase that Carpenter's or Dykman Hill Trail are though. The climb wasn't too bad. While it was higher than either of those two trails, it wasn't as steep or as many steps which made it easier.

At the top Huyler Landing intersects with Long Path. Making a left and 3.5 miles to get to Dykman Hill Trail. The next sign says it's 0.6 miles to get to Shore path. Smart thing I decided to go counterclockwise because the sign on Shore Trail said it was only 0.4 miles to get to Long Path. I saved myself 0.2 miles! ;)

There were a lot of deer out today. In addition to the two baby deer I spotted, one kept bouncing in front of me on this section of Long Path and then I spotted 3 more behind the Greenbrook Sanctuary Fence.

Felt a little guilty. Deer was just trying to hang out and eat and here I come getting in the way and it had to run off. The parkway is on the right and the Greenbrook Sanctuary Fence is on the left leaving a relatively narrow strip of forest. She'd spot me, run up ahead then stop and eat, then along I'd come again and she'd take off again. Not sure what to make of Greenbrook Sanctuary. I don't know much about it other than you need to be a member to get in. Seems a little odd to have a private park in a park and the fence detracts from the scenery.

Like much of the NJ section of Long Path, cars can be heard speeding along the parkway even if they can't always be seen. It's a bit of a distraction but not enough to ruin the experience.

A road will intersect Long Path at the entrance of Greenbrook Sanctuary.

Across the street and to the Left is a set of stairs that lead back to the woods on Long Path.

A couple of weeks ago I did this section of Long Path... still need to post those photos and details... First time seeing it from this direction.

As with much of Long Path in NJ, there are small footpaths that lead east towards impressive views of the cliffs. This first one is Clinton Point. It's small and there are no barriers so be safe as you take in the views.

I glanced to my left and saw something staring at me. Don't think it was the same deer that was hopping in front of me earlier. That makes 7 deer, including the 2 babies. Most I've seen on any one trip to the park.

There are 2 lookouts you can park at along the Palisades Interstate Parkway. There aren't many benches but I see a lot of people sitting in their cars taking a break from the day. This is Rockefeller Lookout. Those quarter operated binoculars always take me back to my childhood. My dad would pop in a quarter and while the timing gear cranked away I'd peer around at whatever there was to peek at.

He trail continues in the woods at the south end of Rockefeller Lookout. Just 1 mile to get to Dyman Hill Trail.

Long Path is pretty good for trail running. Some areas are a little rocky, sometimes there are muddy spots and there are a few steep hills both up and down but the whole NJ section is easily runnable. This time of year it's also very beautiful which helps me ignore the road noise.

This was the last lookout I saw on this section of Long Path. The map labels it as "High Tom's" and it has a great view of the Palisades and Hudson River to the North.

It's hard to tell from the picture but the deer prints in the mud were very small. Must be a few new little deer running around the park.

The first hint that this leg of the hike is complete is the traffic sign pointing towards the Englewood Cliffs Picnic Area. A few steps away is a small set of stairs leading to the sidewalk.

Then a left to head down Dykman Hill Road.

There's a brook that flows down along much of Dykman Hill Trail. This is the first view of it on the road. Unlike the other brooks in the park, this one doesn't have a name. Even that little dinky one before Greenbrook Falls had a name. Lost Brook.

This is one of my favorite parts of Carpenter's trail loops I do. Take the stairs to the left.

And take in a better view of the falls. On very hot days in the summer, this spot always seems cooler with the rushing water and stone structures. After admiring the view it's time to turn around and go under the overpass. Then make a right to continue down the trail.

The remainder of Dykman Hill trail is on old stone steps. The trails are well maintained but there are occasional fallen trees and loose steps it's important to be careful.

The last big of stairs and another beautiful waterfall from the unnamed brook.

A walk down the road.

Back to where the journey began.

But of course I continued to keep walking around because 8.5 miles obviously not enough. :)

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