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Trip Report Poughkeepsie - Walkway over the Hudson

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The long anticipated Walkway over the Hudson spanning the river at Poughkeepsie opened up this weekend. I didn't attend any of the opening ceremonies on Saturday, but rather took advantage of the beautiful early fall weather Sunday. So did seemingly everybody else in town, and many out of towners too.

http://walkway.org/

The walkway is a 1880's era RR bridge, the 1st one to span the Hudson anywhere from NYC to Albany. A deck fire in the mid 70's shut down the RR bridge and it's stood unused for the last 30+ years.

The views from the bridge are fantastic - it's a very pretty stretch of the Hudson river, and you can see about 15mi down river (to Mt. Beacon), and maybe 5+ miles up river. It's about 1/4 mile north of the Mid-Hudson auto bridge - a simple but pretty suspension bridge that makes for a nice photo-op with the river and hills in the background. To the north you can see Marist College and the old Hudson Valley Psych Center high up on the hill. Down below the bridge is the waterfront which is mostly abandoned heavy industry lots, a reminder of the industrial past of the area. There's talk of waterfront revitalization but I don't expect that area to be made nice for decades, if ever.

They've done a great job making the walkway. It's about 25' wide, made of heavy concrete slabs, so even though you are 200+ feet above the river you don't get the sense that you're on a bridge. Massive 4' high railings give you an added sense of how big the structure is. No movement at all like you find on many bridges - it was built for heavy RR freight traffic.

You can access the walkway from both sides of the river. The approaches to the RR bridge extend far inland on both sides, so the access point is not near the Poughkeepsie Metro North / Amtrak RR station, but rather quite a distance away in a rather forgettable part of town. There are about 100 parking spots so getting there with a car is easy.

Today they had shuttle buses from the RR station/waterfront area up to the walkway, but I don't think those will be a regular service. The walkway was packed today - many 1000's of people. It was great to see so many people out. Mostly walkers, but lots of bikes, and even a few Segway's and some wheelchairs. You can rent Segways near the Poughkeepsie RR station - not sure if they shuttle you to the walkway or not. A bike would be handy as it's a long span (1.25mi end to end) and connects to a network of bike trails on the west side of the river. A hike/bike trail is being built through Poughkeepsie/Dutchess Co, but it's not going to be in place for another 1-2yrs.

On the western/Highland side the area is very undeveloped - about 20 parking spots not far from the exit from the Mid-Hudson auto bridge.

You can also do a loop walk - I'd say about 3mi total - crossing the walkway in one direction then back over the auto bridge the other way. That will mean you'd be walking through the mixed commercial/industrial/old residential areas of Poughkeepsie. Not a problem, but not the most attractive walk for that part either. The route is marked with signs and zig-zags a bit.

As a bonus I took a sail on on the sloop Woody Guthrie, operated by the nearby Beacon Sloop club. They were offering free sails today to join the festivities. We sailed under the bridge, approached the 3x larger sloop Clearwater which was docked on the far shore, then returned across the river. Nice relaxing way to spend an hour in the sun.

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