Over the River and Through the Woods

There were rumors of snow upstate on President’s Day, but as Grace and I drove south from Schenectady, we encountered blue skies and temperatures that almost hinted at Spring.

We had been visiting my Aunt Jane and Uncle Wayne, who have lived for decades in an old farmhouse on 32 acres of rolling land. From the windows of their book-filled house (my uncle is an Antiquarian and used book seller), one can see a broad valley and the Helderberg Mountains. After a hearty oatmeal breakfast on our first day, Jane, Grace and I traipsed through the snow, following the remnants of a twisting trail downhill, past brambles and pine trees to an expanse of white meadow. I pulled Grace on a plastic sled, to her great delight, though she was on her own when we turned to climb back up to the house.

When we reached Poughkeepsie on our way home, I parked at the edge of Waryas Park so we could eat the chicken sandwiches Jane had packed for us. Located just below the Poughkeepsie train station, Waryas Park features a pathway along the Hudson River. The scenery–sunlight sparkling off fractured ice that moved upriver with the flood tide–was stunning. Moments after we finished lunch inside our car (it was mild, but not that mild!), my friend Myrna pulled up in her brand new Prius and we set off for the Walkway Over the Hudson.

Spanning the Hudson just north of the Mid-Hudson Bridge in Poughkeepsie, Walkway Over the Hudson (www.walkway.org) is one of New York State’s newest public parks. The transformation of a historic railroad bridge into a pedestrian walkway was spearheaded by a grassroots non-profit organization, proving yet again, to paraphrase Margaret Mead, that a small group of thoughtful citizens can indeed change the world. Or at least the way we view it.

Now you can view the Hudson River and its shoreline from 212 feet above the water. If this sounds scary, it’s not. The Walkway is broad, smooth and motionless, with high barriers strong enough to keep everyone safe, but built to allow amazing views. At 1.28 miles each way, it’s just long enough to feel that you’ve exercised, but not too long for a small child. Myrna, who lives just a few miles away, said she walks it whenever she has a chance. In the waning afternoon light, we strolled along, chatting, taking pictures, admiring the views and sharing the experience with local schoolchildren, dogs, joggers and cyclists.

There’s so much to do in the mid-Hudson Valley. If you’re ever in the mood for a trip to that area, be sure to take Route 9/9D so you can experience the small towns along the way, and leave a couple hours for a walk over the Hudson.

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