The Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail Is a Solution-Driven Project

A proposed linear park that would connect Cold Spring to Beacon, the Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail focuses on safety, accessibility, and the beauty of our region.

It’s no secret that the Hudson Valley is home to many amazing hiking trails, bustling Main Streets, and riverfront parks. Yet, as the area attracts more tourists, regional day trip towns can be overwhelmed by large quantities of visitors, and the question of how to manage visitation comes into play. As a solution, the Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail is a project almost 20 years in the making that is finally being brought to life.

fjord trail

At its core, the Fjord Trail is a proposed linear park that spans 7.5 miles of walkable, bikeable, and ADA-accessible terrain stretching along the Hudson River from Cold Spring to Beacon. Two major tourist attractions in the Putnam and Dutchess areas, these towns are constantly seeing foot and road traffic, and the portion of Route 9D in between them is no exception. Home to popular hiking trail Breakneck Ridge – which has its own train station on Metro-North’s Hudson line – the shoreline in this area not only lacks designated spaces for parking, but also safety precautions on a road with heavy traffic and a high speed limit.

- Advertisement -

Consequently, the Fjord Trail seeks to better manage the thousands of people who visit the region, keep pedestrians off dangerous roads, provide much-needed amenities and infrastructure for visitors, ensure shoreline access for all residents and visitors with an ADA-compliant trail, and protect the local environment for the long haul by repairing erosion, managing invasive species, and increasing the resiliency of the riverfront.

Not only will the Fjord Trail manage visitation in the area, but it will also serve as its own attraction. Along the 7.5-mile trail, visitors will be invited to enjoy four different types of landscapes that are all specific to the Hudson River Valley: river, Hudson Highlands, forest, and marsh. Beginning at Dockside Park in Cold Spring, users of the trail can experience distinct changes in atmosphere as they make their way up to Long Dock Park in Beacon, where the trail concludes.

The project is steered by Scenic Hudson in partnership with local nonprofits, state agencies, and the Metro-North Railroad. Planning and construction are made possible by award-winning landscape designers and ecology-minded architects SCAPE, Arup, and Gray Organschi Architecture. The trail’s design team is comprised of artists, architects, engineers, scientists, surveyors, environmental remediation specialists, and state agencies who are all committed to studying the project area and designing a trail that not only enhances the natural beauty of the Hudson Highlands area, but also focuses on resilient designing and planning in the face of climate change.

fjord trail

- Partner Content -

While most of the project is still in the planning phase as the master plan is currently undergoing an environmental review process, the Highlands portion of the trail and Breakneck Ridge have already undergone some necessary improvements as part of the Fjord Trail project.

As well-visited as it is, Breakneck Ridge was never the safest trail to hike in the Hudson Valley. To combat this issue, the start of the trail has been restored with a rock staircase that provides better wayfinding for first-time hikers and a safer passageway than its previous, heavily eroded entrance. Additionally, a trail steward station with a green roof that is powered by solar panels was installed at the top of the staircase to provide much-needed hiking information ahead of embarking on the trail. More improvements are set to be made at Breakneck Ridge in the fall of 2024.

Aside from Breakneck, other portions of the trail will have necessary improvements as well, such as garbage and recycling receptacles, restrooms, connectors where the Fjord Trail intersects other trail networks, meanders for designated spaces for safe exploration off the trail, trail banks for users to rest and take a moment for the view, a visitor center at Dutchess Manor, and parking and a shuttle service that will allow visitors to park in one area and visit different sections of the trail without using their vehicle or walking its full length.

Construction on the Fjord Trail will be conducted in phases once the environmental review process is complete, and necessary improvements will be made to existing hiking trails in each area of the Fjord Trail while sections are being developed. The project will be divided into five phases, with a projected completion date of 2031.

- Advertisement -

Related: The Ulster County Nature Bus Is a Free Tourism Program

Our Digital Partners

Learn how to become a digital partner ...

Our Excellence in Nursing Awards take place on May 1!

Our Best of Hudson Valley ballot is open through March 31!

Unveiled: A Boutique Bridal Brunch is February 25!

Holiday flash sale ... subscribe and save 50%

Limited time offer. New subscribers only.