A trip to Bannerman Castle, on Pollepel Island, has all the irresistible elements of a wonderful adventure. A boat, a castle, a hike amongst the ruins; some mystery, some history: a lovely afternoon.
A castle? On an island? In the middle of the Hudson River?
Now that I’ve discovered it, I wonder what took me so long to find it. Apparently, the castle and the island are two of the best kept Hudson River secrets.
Who built it? Who lived there? How old is it?
The answers to these questions are fascinating and surprising, and for someone with an interest in history, these stories alone are worth the trip – but this adventure is so much more than history.
Ready for your adventure? The fun begins as you board a boat in Beacon for the first leg of your journey. You’ll glide along the gorgeous Hudson River, passing Denning’s Point and the Hudson Highlands along the way, reaching the island about 30 minutes later. The Estuary Steward was our boat, and the ride along the Hudson was definitely part of the fun.
Once on Pollepel Island, you’ll meet your guide on the dock: a member of the Bannerman Castle Trust. Your guide will lead you on a walking tour of the island, and is guaranteed to be a wealth of knowledge about the people who lived here, beginning with the Native Americans who first used the island as a look out point. The story your guide will tell continues through the years of bootleggers, smugglers, and Revolutionary War involvement, and finally winds up at the time of Frank Bannerman –the man who built the castle, and a summer home, on the island. The castle is actually an armory, and the full story is worth the wait. Wes, our guide, was an exceptional storyteller who made the history funny, engaging and irresistible. When you start your tour, look for Wes!
As you hike around the island, you’ll take in incredible views of Storm King, Breakneck Ridge, and even West Point in the distance. These are vistas you just can’t see anywhere else; this vantage point is unique and breathtaking. The ruins of the castle and the Bannerman summer home, with their crumbling brick and stone, evoke another time and place. The gardens are lovely and are being tended and expanded every week.
Hiking from the house on the hill down to the water
Bannerman Castle is a MUST-DO! Bring your camera and book your tickets early. Tours do sell out.
Bannerman Castle is open to the public thanks to the non-profit organization Bannerman Castle Trust. Donations keep the island open for future tours – visit them on the web here: