The seasonal turning of the leaves in deciduous forests around the world completely changes the living experience and vibe of the morphing landscapes. A beautiful, but stagnant green canvas, transforms itself into a plethora of vibrant colors, the living painting evolves. The turning process has just recently begun in the Hudson Valley so the true magnificence of fall is not quite here. To take full advantage of the beauty of fall in the Hudson River Valley I decided to take a day trip to the newly famous – Walkway Over the Hudson.
Parallel to the Mid-Hudson Bridge (cars/trucks), the Walkway is a reconstructed train bridge and was built in 2009. It is the longest, elevated pedestrian bridge in the world (wow) and is 1.28 miles long. Conveniently located next to the train station, Marist, and the CIA (the secret food agency), it is a hot spot for Dutchess County tourism. After a brief drive from Vassar to the Walkway I found myself stepping into a typical tourist trap. The sun was shining, the leaves were turning, and it was parents’ weekend at Marist. This concoction of humanity was prime for the tourist industry. They sell merchandise as a reminder of a beautiful place, a token of a special memory. It was as if New York City had somehow transplanted itself north, and all of Manhattan was walking the bridge that day.
There were so many people walking the bridge it was almost unbelievable, almost Disney-world-esque. Many walkers were proud parents sporting their newly purchased Marist t-shirts, joining the gang. Others were elderly New Yorkers who walked the bridge with a paid tour guide, educating them on the history of the bridge, the river, and the environment. The bridge and parking is free of charge, however the start of the bridge is a gathering of vendors that range from kettle corn (which I bought) 🙂 to Walkway Over the Hudson merchandise. The tourist trap was unescapable, and I was reeled in by the wonderful smell of popcorn.
From there my friend and I began to walk out over the slow moving waters of the Hudson River. First traversing our way over the highway, the train tracks, and a home who had purchased giant tarps to retain the privacy of their living spaces. From there the famous scenic views began to glow before my eyes. The shining sun, the crisp clouds, the living river, all combined to create a space that would bring a smile to the Grinch’s face. Off in the distance, to our north, a ridge of rolling mountains smiled at us across the meandering Hudson. As we made our way over the river we gradually obtained a better view of the city of Poughkeepsie. Off to the north the CIA’s main building looked almost like the famous Grand Hotel on the horse-and-buggy island society of Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan. Even closer, the Marist campus dotted the shoreline with it’s many academic buildings. Right below the walkway on the eastern shore, abandoned industry had left the area scarred, burned, and visibly useless. A sad sight to see, but a memory and potentially a lesson on how industry effects the natural environment.
As we reached the middle of the bridge, the land and river sprawled before us north and south, our vision limited by the mountains (hills to a person from Colorado). It was a gorgeous day for outdoor activities, and residents and tourists alike were taking full advantage of the beautiful weather. The bridge is tied to the local economy in so many different ways. It is an attraction for the local colleges. For Vassar, Marist, and CIA visitors (prospective students) are able to view the beauty that is the Hudson River Valley. Even the locals are given a new perspective of their homeland, possibly gaining a new appreciation for the natural aspect of their living space. The bridge is a great draw into the Poughkeepsie area, increasing time (and thus money) spent in the Poughkeepsie area. It is definitely used for leisure and recreation, providing a nice outlet and escape from the urban spaces that surround many lives in New York. It is a magnet to the Dutchess County, especially from New York City and it’s suburbs.
The Walkway Over the Hudson is an amazing thing in so many different ways. It provides a healthy activity for locals and visitors alike. It provides a scenic view of the land and hopefully changes some attitudes and views concerning the natural environment. Making people understand that without the land and what it holds, we would be dead. They may finally be able to grasp the full power of nature, before returning to the concrete jungle. The Walkway Over the Hudson should be visited by all who come to the Hudson Valley, I highly recommend it.
For more information – check out : http://www.walkway.org/
P.S. due to tidal changes in the Atlantic Ocean the Hudson sometimes flows north, and other times, flows south ~ trippy ~