Tracing the History of the Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail
ENVISIONING THE FJORD TRAIL
The Fjord Trail began as a grassroots community project years ago, when residents of Cold Spring and Philipstown began discussing solutions to visitor safety and congestion at nearby Breakneck Ridge. The primary challenge was to create a safe pedestrian route for the growing number of hikers flocking to the spectacular trails of the Hudson Highlands. Heavy pedestrian use of State Route 9D, a 55 mph highway, was seen by concerned neighbors as an accident waiting to happen.
In partnership with NYS Parks, a coalition of local nonprofits and municipal leaders formed to consider a safer way forward. Squeezed in along the edges of roadways and through village streets, the first solutions identified were purely practical. The complexity of the project area—at the intersection of the Hudson River, State parkland, a highway, a commuter rail line, and a thriving community—called for the input of regional and state agencies.
The Fjord Trail project evolved as conservation leaders, local stakeholders, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, and others began to see the opportunity for something visionary: a 7.5-mile linear park that connected the Village of Cold Spring to the City of Beacon—and connected people meaningfully to the Hudson River’s edge, the natural and cultural history of the region, and each other.
With guiding support and key input from community members, design experts, and a Steering Committee consisting of public and nonprofit partners, the current plan for the Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail was created.
HUDSON HIGHLANDS FJORD TRAIL, INC.
In 2020, Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail, Inc.—the entity that will be responsible for implementing the plan, and operating and maintaining the Fjord Trail once it’s built—was formed.
HHFT, Inc. is a nonprofit subsidiary of Scenic Hudson, Inc. that will manage the Fjord Trail linear park in close collaboration with New York State Parks Taconic Region staff. Once completed, the Fjord Trail Visitor Center at Dutchess Manor will be the home base for HHFT operations.
UNLOCKING THE PAST—AND FUTURE—OF DUTCHESS MANOR
In 2020, HHFT, Inc. acquired Dutchess Manor, the former popular restaurant and catering facility. This storied property is envisioned as the perfect Visitor Center for the Fjord Trail. It is situated almost exactly in the middle of the main trail route and has ample parking and sweeping views of the Hudson River. The property’s unique history and character also make it the ideal spot to create HHFT’s home base — one that will meet our practical needs and showcase our organizational values.
In 2022, HHFT commissioned the following Historic Property Report for Dutchess Manor, prepared by architectural historian Steven Baltsas. This fascinating report traces the history of the property from the stewardship of the region's original caretakers, the Lenape, through the manor's construction during the industrial revolution (the original three-story brick main house is one of the best surviving examples of Second Empire style architecture in the Hudson Highlands), providing great detail on the architectural history of its components.
Having Dutchess Manor as the Fjord Trail’s home base will allow the Fjord Trail to honor the land’s past and present. Together with the HHFT Steering Committee, Design Council, and team of talented professional landscape designers, architects, and engineers, we are enthusiastically working toward the next chapter for Dutchess Manor, and look forward to sharing our plans with you.
Photography: Ty Cole
lllustration: Donna Calcavecchio