Overview: On the border between New Jersey and New York, the Giant Stairs is a challenging 4.3 mile loop hike that takes you down the Palisades to the shore of the Hudson River for a scramble across a boulder field, and steep ascent back up.
Hike length: About 4 miles
Elevation gain: +1,290 feet
Location: State Line Lookout, Palisades Interstate Park, Alpine, New Jersey (Bergen County)
Parking: A free parking lot is available at State Line Lookout, which has an unnumbered exit off of the Palisades Interstate Parkway.
Begin this hike on Old Route 9W a little north of Point Lookout, where the Long Path (aqua markers) heads into the woods. Stay on the Long Path headed north.
In about half a mile, the Long Path turns right (east) near the state line border monument, then left (north) to go through a gate in a fence. The trail then descends on steep stone steps. Just beyond “High Gutter Point” (this is the point where you can see sweeping views to the north) are more steep steps. Use caution and take your time on these to the bottom.
At the bottom of the steps the trail turns left (west).
In about 1/8 mile, the trail crosses a stream. After you cross the stream turn right (east). This is the start of the Shore Trail (white markers). Follow the Shore Trail to the river and Peanut Leap Cascade. Sections are rocky and the final descent is steep—use caution!
Enjoy this picturesque spot for a while, then continue south on the Shore Trail (white markers).
Following the white markers, you’ll scramble almost a mile across the boulder field called “the Giant Stairs.”
About 1/4 mile south of the boulder field, find the steep Forest View Trail (blue-and-white markers) and take it up to its intersection with the Long Path (aqua).
Turn right (north) on the Long Path, cross the stream, and take the aqua trail back to the Lookout