New York City’s shorelines: Where to go, what to do, where to stay, where to eat
Adler knows those shores better than most. The native New Yorker started Shorewalkers in the early 1980s. Over the decades, the group — whose motto is “see New York at three miles per hour” — has grown into a not-for-profit organization that advocates preserving and increasing public access to the region’s shores.
The group’s many volunteers lead several walks every week, year-round, throughout the five boroughs and the New York suburbs. Most of the walkers are locals, and the walks aren’t exactly tours — they don’t come with a running history of the area. But the volunteers do lead walkers on off-the-beaten-path treks through areas that visitors would be unlikely to find on their own.
For example, the George Washington Bridge, which stretches from Upper Manhattan at 178th Street to the Palisades, the 400-foot cliffs that line the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. I’ve driven over this bridge many dozens of times on my way to visit family and friends in New York, but I’d never known that it was walkable.
One October weekend, I learn that Adler is leading a walk across the bridge, so on a chilly but sunny morning, I take the subway to meet him and six other walkers at the 178th Street bus terminal, just a few blocks from the bridge’s entrance. A freak snowstorm dumped a couple of inches of icy slush on the city the night before, but Adler is undaunted. So are my fellow walkers, a diverse group of experienced shorewalkers and newbies ranging in age from their 20s to their 50s. I’m the only out-of-towner.
“I do this for the exercise, and I see parts of the city I’ve never seen before,” says social worker Suzy Sanford, a native New Yorker who discovered the Shorewalkers last year and has been walking with them regularly since.
We’re supposed to head across the bridge and then continue several miles north along a trail at the foot of the Palisades. The walk starts out promisingly — the sun is warming up the sidewalk and melting last night’s slush. But at the bridge, we find our way blocked. The gates to the pedestrian walkway are closed; apparently the city has decided that it’s too icy to be safe. We’re disappointed, but Adler regroups and tells us that he’ll lead us instead on a walk around the parks of northern Manhattan and into the Bronx.
We head north through the Washington Heights neighborhood and into Fort Tryon and Inwood Hill parks, surprising patches of greenery at the island’s very northern tip. Walking along Inwood Hill Park’s quiet forested paths, it’s hard to believe that we’re just a 15-minute walk from the subway. When the path parallels the river, it offers gorgeous views of the Palisades and the Hudson as far north as the Tappan Zee Bridge, 20 miles away.