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Photography Hikes: The Long Path

white bridge under blue sky during daytime

It was on a weekend trip in 2004 that the infamous ‘Long Path’ was discovered in New York. Wondering what all the ‘LP’ icons meant on the map, Andy Garrison and his 9-year-old son decided to take a trip and hike through each of them. Two years later, they were finished.

That’s right, the Long Path is a 357-mile long-distance hike that starts in New York City and takes you all the way to Altamont, New York, in Albany. We’re not saying that you should dedicate two years to your next hike, but if you’re into photography and hiking, certain sections of the Long Path are definitely worth doing!

The Hiking Trail: The Long Path

Section One, for instance, is a popular day hike. Starting on 175th Street in Manhattan and ending in Palisades, New York, at the Lamont-Doherty Observatory, this is a gorgeous 14-mile hike that offers some stunning views of both the urban and natural world. 

Why It’s Good

There are so many reasons why it’s good, but one of the most significant is that it's one of those few hikes that clashes two worlds together. If you’re looking for some interesting new angles for your next square photo book, or a photo book completely dedicated to your 2024 hikes, then section one of the Long Path offers perfect juxtapositional opportunities, where you can fit both the rural landscape and the urban into a single frame. 

Not only this, but it’s relatively easy for amateur hikers, with a low elevation and the – near enough – impossibility to get lost. It may seem a little weird to be wearing hiking gear while walking through NYC, but the strangeness of this hike is part of its charm!

What to Look Out For

While walking through the Palisades, you also have a good chance of snapping some wildlife – and no, we don’t mean the weird and wonderful people you’ll come across on the streets of New York! Wildlife to be found in the rural areas include:

  • Peregrine Falcons
  • Bald Eagles
  • Herons
  • Kingfishers
  • Eastern Chipmunks
  • White-tailed Deer
  • Striped Skunks
  • Red and Grey Squirrels

Photography Tips

As a photography hiker, starting a hike in the bustling streets of NYC and then finishing in a calm, relaxing natural paradise is slightly unusual. but there are a couple of things you can do to prepare yourself. 

  • Don’t Ignore New York!

It may sound a little counterintuitive, but it’s so easy to march through the first leg of this hike and simply try to get to the rural areas. This is understandable. NYC can be an uncomfortable city to navigate at the best of times, and when you’re dressed up in hiking gear, you’re not let off lightly. But there are so many photo opportunities in NYC, and the beauty of this hike is that it’s both urban and rural, so try to relax in those initial stages, take plenty of photographs, and enjoy the busy city streets.

  • Look for the Intricacies

After you’ve crossed the bridge from the city into New Jersey, you’ll come across a detour that takes you north. We suggest you take this detour and try to seek out a few of the interesting monuments that are dotted around the Interstate Parkway. These include the fallen ruins of Cliffdale Manor and the – thankfully – still-standing Women’s Federation Monument. While this part of the hike is undoubtedly about nature and wildlife, it’s still a good idea to explore the old structures of the past and take some more juxtapositional images.

Photography Challenges

Because we’re not talking about the entire Long Trail, you don’t have to worry about this hike being difficult or straining, even from a photography perspective. That being said, there are a few challenges that can push your skills.

  • The ‘All in One’ Shot

This is going to be the showstopper shot that steals the show when you upload these photos to our photo book maker – a shot of both New York City and the Palisades in a single frame. The best places to take these shots are at either the Palisades viewpoint or the Rockefeller Lookout. The trail can get a little tricky at this point – with sections that elevate and decline – so keep an eye on your footing.

  • The George Washington Shot

Some of the most beautiful shots we’ve seen of this hike were taken at George Washington Bridge – which you will have to cross to reach New Jersey. We challenge you, however, to visit this bridge twice. Once in the middle of the hike, and again at the end. 

Try to time your second visit with sunset. Set your shutter speed to slow – as well as a low ISO – adjust your aperture until the setting is successfully exposed, and then stabilize your camera so that the cars are the only things moving. If you do this, you should snap some beautiful urban shots, along with colorful light trails from the moving vehicles. It’s a little tricky to get right, but just like the hike itself, it’s a challenge worth doing!


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