Wednesday, July 6, 2016

An Independence Day Walk - Fort Lee Historic Park and the Shore Trail

I hadn't planned on walking on Independence Day, but when I discovered Shorewalkers and AMC were holding a joint walk across the George Washington Bridge to the Long Path via Fort Lee Historic Park it seemed like the perfect activity for the day - history and exercise combined. I obviously wasn't the only one to think that - over sixty people joined the walk, certainly one of the biggest group walks I've ever been on.

Starting from the Manhattan side of the river, we made our way across the bridge towards New Jersey. The walking path on the bridge is very narrow and shared with cyclists so for most of the length it was single file only and the volume of traffic on the road meant it was far from a quiet walk, but the views of the city skyline made it all worthwhile.

To the south of the bridge on the Jersey side is Fort Lee Historic Park. Lookout platforms provide stunning views of the river and the bridge. 

Fort Lee was established in July 1776 along with Fort Washington on the opposite side of the river in an attempt to stop the British gaining control of the Hudson River. The plan didn't work out quite as expected and after Fort Washington was taken, George Washington ordered the evacuation of troops from Fort Lee in November 1776.

The reconstructed Revolutionary War encampment gives an idea of what the area would have looked like at the time.

Unfortunately the cannons, while I'm sure historically accurate in design, looked as if they had just been made - with unblemished wood and gleaming barrels and cannonballs - I couldn't help wondering why they hadn't aged them a little to add authenticity. 

From the park we headed down to the Shore Trail which runs alongside the river.


The trail stretches for almost 12 miles, but we walked only a mile and a half of it to the Ross Dock Picnic Areaa popular spot for picnics and barbecues, for a welcome lunch break. It was a very hot day and, even though we hadn't walked that far, by that point I was already beginning to wonder how much further I wanted to go.

After lunch we headed for Carpenter's Trail, a 320 ft steep climb to the Long Path, mostly up uneven steps. 

This was the easy section!

Despite the surrounding  vegetation, the trail was not particularly shaded so by the time we reached the top I decided to forgo the rest of the walk on the trails - a circuit of another 3 - 4 miles including yet another climb up Carpenter's Trail - and, instead, make do with the almost 2 mile walk back to our starting point. It turned out I wasn't alone, almost half the group were of the same mind.

I wish I could have continued on, but with any kind of exercise you have to know your limits and while an 8+ mile walk wouldn't normally be a problem for me, the heat was the defeating factor. 

Even cut short, the walk was a fun day out with a great group of people. 


  1. Thanks again Mel, for sharing not only your great photos but the history. So much around us that's taken for granted. I'm impressed you walked such lengths on a hot July day. You're a dedicated walker.

    1. Thanks Elisabeth. I can't think of a better way of spending time - wonderful scenery, history and exercise all rolled into one. And a perfect complement to the sedentary writing life!