There’s something almost surreal about being in the woods and on a trail when suddenly, out of nowhere, a bridge appears.
Seeing these man-made structures in the middle of undeveloped wonderlands is always an unexpected treat and makes them fun to cross. It doesn’t matter if they are made of steel or two wooden planks, whether they take you hundreds of feet across large bodies of water or over a trickling brook, bridges usually offer a unique view of whatever it is you're hiking or running over—a curious frog poking his head out, a sailboat cruising through the waves, or sometimes, if you’re lucky, panoramic views of New York City.
Here are three great hikes in NY that boast unique bridges that you’ll definitely want to check out, and check off your bucket list.
1. The Big One
The George Washington Bridge is hard to miss, especially its two 570-foot high steel towers. So, the next time you're in New York City, make sure to walk across this massive steel expanse. As you cross this man-made marvel, a slight turn of your head to the left or right will give you a must-see panoramic view of the Hudson River below. Visit Fort Lee Historic Park tucked just beyond the bridge’s end opposite the city. The park has equally great views of the NY skyline. If you’re looking for a hike with real miles, rockier terrain, and nature instead of steel, hit the Long Path Trail, part of the Palisades Interstate Park . You can walk on this trail until you hit the NY/NJ state line.
2. The Shire
The 1,000-acre Teatown Lake Reservation in Ossining, NY feels like it’s straight out of The Hobbit . If you head to the parking lot behind the nature center, you can access the Lakeside Trailhead after entering a wooden door that looks like it belongs on Frodo’s house. Head down a rocky descent with steps, and you will be on your way around Teatown Lake—it’s about a 1.9 mile gentle hike.
The terrain at Teatown is wonderfully varied, with dirt paths, swamps, rock outcroppings, and woodlands. The undeniable highlight of the two-mile loop around the lake is the Bergman Boardwalk, a stunning 600-foot long bridge that carries you above water overflowing with lily pads. The preserve is about 50 minutes north of New York City.
3. 13 Bridges
If pictures of the Bridges of Madison County make you happy, chances are you’ll like the 13 Bridges loop at Rockefeller State Preserve, which lies about 40 minutes north of New York City in Pleasantville, NY. Take the Metro North Hudson Line to the Tarrytown Station and then hop a short cab ride from the train station to the information center at the preserve.
The 13 Bridges Loop Trail is a 1.9 mile wandering trail with plenty of uphill climbs in gorgeously lush surroundings. If you park at the preserve’s main lot near the visitor’s center, you’ll tack on another mile getting down to the start of the 13 Bridges Loop, and another mile on the way back for a slightly more than four-mile workout. As a hike or walk it is a moderate level of difficulty along well-maintained gravel and dirt paths, but it’s a perfect trail run if you are looking for a good hill workout.
From the main lot, head out at the back of the parking lot through a gate that puts you on the Old Sleepy Hollow Trail Road. The path takes you downhill across Sleepy Hollow Road. On the other side of the road you’ll head across a metal bridge and stream, head straight up a hill, and see a trail marker that will guide you to the first of the 13 bridges. As you come around each new bend the bridges will keep on coming, one after another. Be sure to print out a map of the preserve ahead of time.