Route: Palisades Giant Stairs (NJ)

Submitted by Chris Chapman on Sun, 10/09/2022 - 03:20pm
New Jersey, US
4.5 mi
Vertical Gain
900 ft

The Giant Staircase Loops are widely considered the most difficult and popular hike in Palisades Interstate Park involving both steep technical descents and climbs. Sections along the Shore Trail boarder on rock scrambling and need to be approached with extreme cation. Nearly all of the over 900 feet of elevation gain takes place in the last half mile on a series on switchback staircases. The NY-NJ Trail Conference suggests this hike can take up to 4 hours, times well under an hour are very possible.

There are now two variations both including the bolder-steps and Shore trail. The longer route (first published) uses a south loop and the trails most westerly, while the shorter route is closer to the rim (see picture).

Long loop: Starting from the parking area along Route 9W immediately south of the Palisades Interstate Parkway southbound Exit 3. Trail map sign at parking area is start and finish location for the route. Begin by traveling over the Palisades Interstate Parkway pedestrian bridge making a left once off the bridge where the trail forks, follow this section of trail to intersection with Stateline Lookout/Exit 3 and Trail B. Follow Trail B until left intersection to Trail C, take Trail C until left intersection with Trail D and Trail D to Old 9W and a make left following pavement until right turn onto trail with signs for Long Path/Peanut Leap. Follow the trail as it turns to White Trail down to the river and onto Shore Trail traveling southward along river. Follow until right intersection with Blue White Trail up the stairs and follow Blue White blaze back to 9W bridge and to route start/finish.

Short lopp: Here you can start/end at the State Line Outlook parking. Head north on Old route 9 W, shift to Trail F, going onto Long Path, then White Trail down to the river to Shore Trail. Follow until right intersection with Blue White Trail up the stairs, atop stay northbound (do not loop south) until you hit Trail A and later Trail F that takes you back. This route is also a Strava segment called Boulder Full loop.

*Very technical route, can be run in other direction.