We ventured to New York state this past weekend, north of New York City, but close enough that we felt the impact of that huge metropolis throughout our travels. As we crossed the Tappan Zee bridge in the dark to get to the west side of the Hudson river, my husband mentioned that he knew of a viewing platform somewhere nearby, which would offer a better opportunity to see the construction that is ongoing at the bridge.
The next morning we took a quick side trip back to Nyack, New York to see if we could find this viewing platform. And what joy–there were signs pointing the way!
Soon enough, we found ourselves on the banks of the Hudson river, and strolled onto the handicapped accessible platform. If the fog had lifted we would have had a great view of the construction and the bridge itself. As it was, we saw a little bit, but I also noticed a lovely garden right at the water’s edge.
Some women were working in the garden, and told me they volunteer every Monday morning. “This was our contribution to the new millennium” one of the volunteers offered, with a smile. I explained to them that I look for easy walks on my travels, and that this spot offered a very easy walk to a great view, especially on days with less fog!
Much of the rest of our day was filled with remembrance–hearing stories of a family member who had spent his life doing what he cared about. Primary among his pursuits in the past many years was fighting to preserve open space in the area where he lived. We look forward to returning to the area to explore some of the land he worked so hard to save from development.
As we headed back north along the west bank of the Hudson, we came to Bear Mountain State Park. Iona Marsh, part of Bear Mountain State Park, was accessible directly from the road so we made a quick stop. Great birding is probably possible here, but again we had little time–another visit is clearly in order! A long drive awaited us.
But we did find access to the Hudson river and a pretty waterfall emptying into the river. One option for access took us underneath the railroad tracks that follow the west bank of the river, out to a small grassy area and dock.
The spring rains had filled the tunnel with several inches of water, so we found a different access over to the river.
We also stumbled across a bronze statue of a deer head, staring out over the river.
The statue has a great view of the river, but it was pretty challenging to get past all the brush that has grown up around it to get a good picture!
After crossing Bear Mountain bridge to get back to the east side of the Hudson, we stopped for a few minutes to take in the views of the park from across the river, including Iona Marsh. It seems, from this vantage point, that the river had once contained an oxbow, now a marsh, which was likely disrupted by the train tracks that were built across the oxbow.
I see these short stops as opportunities to investigate, to give us information helping us to decide if we want to make plans for a longer trip in the future. It was wonderful to spend time with family, and it was doubly wonderful to learn more about an area of New York I was unacquainted with. Much hillier than I had realized, this area holds steep slopes, pretty ponds, streams, and rivers, more woods than I thought there might be, and numerous homes perched on the sides of slopes with unenviable driveways. There are so many places still to explore. Knowing more about what is there makes it easier to plan for our next trip.
Marjorie Turner Hollman
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. Just out is her latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are.
She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress.