Reconnecting people with the sublime beauty of the Hudson River and Highlands.
Restoring river access and impacted habitats.
Revering the landscape and its rich history and ecology.
Across the Hudson River from West Point and Storm King Mountain, the Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail (HHFT) encompasses a visually remarkable 7.5 miles uniting the unique landscape typologies of the region: the river’s edge, highlands, forest, and marsh. Extending from the village of Cold Spring to the city of Beacon, the HHFT will consist of a multi-modal, ADA-accessible main trail and smaller foot paths. It will serve as the gateway to some of the most breathtaking and popular day hikes in the United States, including Breakneck Ridge, Mount Taurus, and Little Stony Point, while repairing and managing impacts to the landscape from past industrialization and today's heavy recreation visitation.
The goals of the project are as practical as they are visionary:
Express reverence for the regional landscape: The project explores the history and beauty of the Highlands—Native American, early American history, railroad and industrialization, Hudson River School to contemporary art, nature and ecology. The project seeks to connect people through immersion and by creating new ways to experience those stories looking both to the past and the future. We'll do this by offering places and spaces for all ages and abilities to get out and enjoy the landscape in varied ways.
Cultivate the ecological sublime: The landscape has inspired art, poetry and reverence throughout its human history. In seeking to create a park and trail to help people experience the landscape, a key goal is to ensure that any landscape design or architecture blends with and highlights the landscape, rather than imposing upon or competing with it. We strive to keep the landscape the star!
Reunite with the river's edge: Access to the river has long been largely cut off by the railroad tracks. With Metro-North as a key project partner, we've designed a waterfront park that restores that connection to people for boating, fishing, and those toes-in-the-water moments that have not been possible in much of the project area for over 100 years.
Connect with the greater region: The Hudson Highlands is a signature region with many destinations representing the same themes as the project landscape: history, art, nature, food, community. We seek to partner and connect with other like-minded groups and destinations in the Highlands to amplify the voice for those stories. With three train stations in the project area, the draw to the region is local, from the New York City metro area, and beyond. This creates endless opportunities to connect people from near and far to learn about and experience the Hudson Highlands—school groups, youth groups, heritage tours, plein-air painters, foragers, bird watchers, hikers, paddlers. Opportunities abound for activities such as Native American stomp dances, writer or artist residencies, corporate retreats, and so much more.
Choreograph visitation and stewardship: A key driver of the project was a recognition by locals that, while the area was a growing draw for outdoor recreation, roads and other infrastructure were not designed to safely accommodate visitors. As tourism has increased, the project has been adapted and expanded to help manage not just pedestrian safety but also other impacts of high visitation on the community, services, infrastructure, and natural landscape to retain the quality of place.
Inspire and implement: The project has a broad vision that will be designed and implemented in phases in conversation with the community, emerging programmatic partnerships (for example art, education, tours) and the large, long-standing project coalition that has brought the project this far.
About the Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail
The impetus to the Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail was the increasing popularity of hiking at Breakneck Ridge, visited by over 100,000 hikers annually. Improving pedestrian and auto safety along State Route 9D and mitigating erosion and habitat infringement on Breakneck Ridge remain two important project goals.
What will the park contain?
The park will serve as a gateway to the Hudson Highlands Park Preserve, providing safe connection to existing trails from train stations and community centers, improving or restoring well-loved destinations, and creating new trails and destinations with an emphasis on offering experiences to all ages and abilities throughout the 7.5-mile project area.
Some highlights will include:
An ADA trail along the water from Cold Spring to Breakneck.
Removing invasive species at Little Stony Point to create a nature play space for kids and families.
Driftwood Play Zone
A forest net destination in the northern woodland section of the park will offer a family-friendly immersive forest experience—lounge and play in the tree canopy while looking down on a restored understory of native plants.