Statue of Liberty National Monument Highpoint Trip Report

Date: August 5, 2005
Author: John Mitchler

General Description: Comprised of two islands, this monument is located in the Hudson River at the northern end of Upper New York Bay just west of the southern end of Manhattan. Liberty Island hosts the sublime freedom icon Statue of Liberty. Ellis Island hosts the Immigration Museum.

These two islands, along with Black Tom (now joined with the mainland) comprised the Oyster Islands which were not submerged at high tide.
Ellis Island was described as a mud bank which barely rose above high tide water and is listed as 7 feet today. Liberty Island is estimated to have been 15 to 20 feet above sea level, and was used more extensively than Ellis, mainly for military purposes.

Distance: 2000 feet round-trip, from ferry dock to walk around Liberty Island.
Difficulty: Easy walk across island and around Statue of Liberty.
Elevation gain: 10 feet
Summit elevation: 15 feet

Maps: USGS topo is not needed; topo chart
Access/permits: Ellis Island is closed for repairs until 2014. The island's south half is never open to the public.
Liberty Island is open every day 8:30 am Ė 5:00 pm except Christmas based on ferry schedule.
Ferry fees are $17 per adult with various discounts for others.
Libertyís Pedestal access is free and a visit to Libertyís Crown costs $3.
Best months: Year-round, peak season April-September is crowded.
Visitor Center: Information Center on Liberty Island.
Park Service Web Page

Highpoint Description: Ellis Island is a relatively flat and reworked bit of land such that identifying a highest point is not realistic. The original island was expanded with landfill from 3 acres to 27 acres, and is now listed as 7 feet high.
Liberty Island has been inhabited since pre-history. The natural land, which is estimated to have been 15 feet to 20 feet, has been reworked such that the current 14 acre islandís highest ground is the built-up base surrounding the Liberty statue. However the highest remaining natural ground is likely to the northwest.

Finding the trailhead:

Two ferry docks serve both islands. They are located in Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan and at the Central Railroad of NJ Terminal in Liberty State Park in New Jersey. The Battery Park dock can only be reached on foot, by bicycle, or by wheelchair. Parking is almost nonexistent in lower Manhattan and is expensive.

Battery Park is served by public transportation. By bus, take the M1, M6, or M15 to Battery Park. By subway, take the #1 train to South Ferry/Whitehall, the #4 or #5 trains to Bowling Green, or the R or W trains to Whitehall Street/South Ferry. Schedules are available here.

From these transport stops, walk west into Battery Park and look for the ferry docks along the waterfront at the parkís southwest edge.

Liberty State Park is accessed by car from I-78 (NJ Turnpike) from Exit 148. Follow the signs east into the park which is between the Hudson River and I-78. The ferry docks can be accessed by using the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail although the station is a mile walk to the dock.

New Jersey transit web page

Upon reaching the ferry dock you may purchase tickets. However advance reservations are recommended:
(877) LADY-TIX, (201) 604-2800, www.statuecruises.com.

The hike:

Visit each island. Wander around the buildings. When accessible, only the north half of Ellis Island is public. The land around the Liberty statue is much reworked such that the land northwest of the statue may be considered more natural.

About the park:

Liberty Islandís history is mainly one of military significance, with the Liberty statue being completed in 1886.
Ellis Island hosted a fort prior to being the nationís busiest immigration inspection station from 1892 to 1954.

Camping and services:

No camping. There are no services on the islands and limited services near the ferry docks due to the urban nature (i.e. plenty of restaurants but few gas stations and motels).