Fort Washington Park

This gem of Washington Heights features the iconic Little Red Lighthouse, sweeping views of the Hudson River, and a rocky shoreline just waiting to be explored.

Quick Info:

Distance: 2.5 miles

Difficulty: Strenuous

Map: See bottom of page

Quick advice:

This hike is easiest when the tide is low, so I would recommend finding a time to go that syncs up with low tide. Follow this link for a tide schedule of the Hudson River.

The commute:

Take the A or 1 train to 181st St and walk west until you reach Riverside Dr. Turn right and cross the pedestrian bridge ahead, which drops you off on the Hudson River Greenway. Alternatively for those who have a bicycle, instead of taking the subway you can actually bike uptown on the Hudson River Greenway to the park. If you do this, you get extra points for the workout and can skip to step #2.

The hike:

1. Continue straight from the bridge to follow the greenway as it leads down the hill. You'll pass under a tunnel then cross a bridge over train tracks. Take note of a trail coming up on your right (you might use it later). Views of the Hudson River will start to open up and soon you'll come to the bottom of the hill.

2. Here is the legendary Little Red Lighthouse, which you may recognize from the classic children's book The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge. From the lighthouse you can look down the Hudson at the Manhattan skyline, across the river at the dramatic Palisade cliffs, and at the George Washington Bridge looming above you.

The Little Red Lighthouse (2)

3. Once you're ready to leave this monument behind, head under the bridge and walk alongside the fence. If the tide is high the rocks in front of you will be submerged, blocking the way forward. If this is the case, backtrack up the hill and take the trail you noted earlier as an alternative way down to the shoreline (skip to step #6).

4. If you took my recommendation and are visiting at low tide, watch out for slippery rocks and waves as you make your way forward. You'll be treated to one of the most remarkable vistas in the city: the Palisades across the Hudson River stretching far into the distance, the rolling green hills of uptown Manhattan and the Bronx, and a salt marsh beside you.

View of the Hudson River (4)

5. Do your best to make your way past the marsh; the easiest way forward varies with the tide.

6. Once past the marsh, the shoreline becomes a stretch of solid rock face and some serious scrambling is required to keep going. At some point you'll pass the alternative trail down - welcome back if you went this way!

Rocky shoreline of Fort Washington Park (6)

7. Continue along for as far as you like. When you're ready to depart from the shore, follow any of the multiple paths leading you back to the greenway where you can then exit the park.