Hiking the Giant Stairs

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By Surabhi Ashok

Located in Closter, New Jersey and begins on the State Line lookout off the Palisades Parkway, the Giant Stairs hike consists of a mile-long stretch of large boulders that overlooks the Hudson Valley.

The Palisades are a group of steep cliffs that line the Hudson River, and the Giant Stairs lie right below. This hike loops around for some four miles, with an estimate of taking two hours per mile.

This particular section of the hike takes you through both the forest and areas of open space, with views that include the Peanut Leap Cascade, a waterfall that is present only after significant rainfall. However, choosing to go hiking right after a lot of rain or snow requires caution and preparation, such as good traction equipment, as the rock-scrambling can get dangerous during wet conditions.

Looking up at the Palisades cliffs, there’s actually a section of lightly colored rock that is as a result of the most recent rockfall in 2012. It even created a pathway more than a 100 feet wide through the trees. There’s also a border monument further down the trail as you end up traversing through both New York and New Jersey.

The Giant Stairs is only a part of the entire Shore Line Trail. The actual rock scramble is only about one mile, while of course taking much longer, and it then connects to the rest of the hike– an ascent and descent that loops for a total of four miles.

The Giant Stairs hike is a very challenging and rigorous course. While it’s the perfect spot for many adventure-seekers, it’s important to be aware of wet or icy conditions and the fact that it might not be the best option for dogs or very small children.