A short hike in the New Jersey Palisades Interstate Park takes you to the ruins of a large mansion and views of the Hudson River from the Palisades.
Cliff Dale Manor was built in 1911 as a summer home for George Zabriskie, a wealthy business man who made his money in the flour trade. The mansion was one of many homes that sat on top of the Palisades property known as ‘Millionaires’ Row’. The Cliff Dale ruins are now the last remains of this wealthy community.
In the early 1930s John D. Rockefeller Jr. quietly started buying up property along the cliffs in fear that the opening of the G.W. Bridge would spike development. Many tenants were eager to sell with the Great Depression happening and in 1933 John D. Rockefeller Jr. donated 723 acres of land to the park.
When the property was purchased by JDR Jr. a demolition was planned to restore the cliffs to their natural look. The demolition failed to go as planned and is why the remnants of only Cliff Dale Manor remain today on Millionaires’ Row.
Many interesting residents occupied this area and can be read about further here.
An interesting fact I came about from Wikipedia is that JDR Jr. had a special interest in conservation and purchased land to be donated to many American National Parks. Some of these include Grand Teton, Mesa Verde National Park, Acadia, Great Smoky Mountains, Yosemite, and Shenandoah.
*Photos from Cliff Dale Public Domain
About The Hike
The hike is a couple miles of an out & back hike that can begin at either the Alpine Boat Basin parking lot or the Palisades Park Commissioners Office. If you want to skip the elevation climb like me, choose the Commissioner’s Office, it’s located as you drive in at the top of the Palisades.
The Cliff Dale Manor ruins are located off to the side of the Long Path trail which if beginning from the Commissioner’s Office, head south and take the tunnel that goes under Henry Hudson Drive. When the trail breaks off to head under the parkway, keep on the Long Path for about another half of a mile.
There is no official trail around the ruins but they will be easy to spot from the trail. The first is only a foundation in the ground, further along you’ll see the base level of the mansion jutting out of the cliff with a couple sets of stairs to take you around.
There are a few unofficial paths that will take you to the edge of the Palisades. I recommend taking your time exploring, there’s a great spot with an old stone lookout on the edge of the cliff that I missed when I was there. Nonetheless, views are what you expect from the palisades – amazing!
Palisades Park Loop:
Distance: 2 Miles
Type: Out & Back
Elevation: 427 feet
Total Ascent: 50 feet
*No AllTrails route, figures provided are an estimate
This hike can be combined with the many others within the Palisades Interstate Park. Check out this hike nearby along the Palisades and the White Shore Trail.
Getting There and Important Information
The parking lot is located off the Palisades Interstate Parkway at the Palisades Park Commissioners Office along Henry Hudson Drive. The park is open daily from dusk until dawn and there is no charge for parking or use.
The ruins are located within the park on public property and are legal to explore, enjoy!
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