Appalachian Trail Hiker Killed At Palisades Parkway Road Crossing
A hiker was killed while crossing the Palisades Parkway on the New York section of the Appalachian Trail earlier this week.
66-year-old Galina Surman was enjoying a day on the trail with family and friends when she was struck by a car at 11:45 a.m. on November 14, 2021. Surman was crossing the highway near the town of Stony Point (northbound mile 1398 on the Appalachian Trail).
Life-saving medical measures were unsuccessful, and she was pronounced dead when police arrived. The driver of the vehicle stayed at the scene and was not impaired at the time of the accident. No charges have been filed according to the local police.
The road crossing at Palisades Parkway is considered one of the most dangerous along the Appalachian Trail – cars frequently travel at around 80 mph despite the 55 mph speed limit, with nothing but a small sign indicating that hikers could be crossing the road. Comments on the FarOut app (formerly Guthook) are filled with countless hikers warning others of the dangers at the road crossing.
The area is typically described as “playing a real-life game of frogger” as the official route of the AT crosses a total of four lanes of high-speed traffic in the area. Traffic along the parkway is frequently heavy due to the close proximity to New York City.
Although the crossing has been the official route of the trail for many years, hikers have long called for a pedestrian bridge or official crossing with flashing lights to alert drivers that hikers are coming. There are currently no plans made public by the ATC or local trail organizations to improve the road crossing.
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.
This spot really needs a bridge for the safety of both hikers and drivers. With how many hikers that make the crossing it’s lucky that there hasn’t been more sad incidences like this one.
Damn that’s tragic. I’ve made that crossing so many times on different trails, it’s not just the AT that crosses it. They need a crosswalk with some flashing yellow lights for hikers.
Let’s guess how many life it will take to even consider building a bridge or crossing.
That location really needs a foot bridge to insure the safety of all concerned. There is a similar issue and proposed foot bridge at the parking area for McAfee Knob on Virginia on route 311. I have crossed that road; crest of a hill, multiple lanes, 55 mph.
ATC and State of New York need to take immediate action. One death is way too many.
The family of the deceased needs to sue the state of New York for reckless endangerment for not having a pedestrian crossing at that location, and for not patrolling the speeding traffic with police officers. Maybe a couple of million and some bad publicity will get things moving along.
From photo I think a quick and cheap stop gap measure would be to trim vegetation way back along the roads sides to improve sight lines for both hikers and drivers. Interesting she was with a group. Wonder if some went for a gap in traffic and she was slower crossing or was 1st in that group? Always remember there is a level of personal responsibility when crossing a road of any kind particularly when not at an intersection or when there is no marked crosswalk.
This is terrrible but sadly, no surprise. The Orange Turnpike crossing, about 50 miles south, is actually worse than this one – also four lanes but with no dividing median – at least on the Palisades you only have to play frogger for 2 lanes at a time.
This is an unfortunate event. Very sad and devastating, prayers to the family.
This article is quite inaccurate, I am familiar with the parkway and it is a 55mph parkway not 40*. Definitely a bridge needs to be built for hikers to cross this area. It is also illegal to cross a highway, not quite sure why people are allowed to cut their hiking trail through the highway. Drivers are not expecting to have pedestrian along a 55mph highway, this makes everything very horrific for everyone involved.
We hike at our own risk. Hikers are exposed to all manner of hazards at high elevations in the Northeast–some die every year due to forces of nature. We accept those tragedies because these are not human-created hazards (well, there are some places in the Whites where no sane person would put a trail). ATC spends tens of thousands of dollars per year to ferry hikers across the Kennebeck, because fording it is demonstrably dangerous (again, there have been fatalities)–but it is a natural resource that is part of the Trail’s environment.
The crossing where Ms Surman tragically lost her life does not have a history of fatal incidents (‘tho I personally had a close call there on a rainy morning–and driven this road a number of times). Personally, I’m pretty much against nanny state overreach, but this might be a place where some intervention should be considered.
There are so many ways such dangerous crossings can be improved. At a minimum, larger signs warning traffic of the crossing should be installed, and even a crosswalk painted on the roadway would be a helpful reminder for frequent drivers. If more money is allocated, a foot bridge can be built – they put them in for wildlife on major highways, so they can do the same for hikers — and even radar activated cameras could be installed to discourage speeding on the roadways. Warning signs for hikers is also warranted.
From my 2019 AT duary..eBook…”Our hike up Bear Mountain had a lot of steps, which bicycle commuting prepared me well for. It was a nice clear day with all varieties of people crowding the trails having fun. One hiker took my photo on the first Bear Mountain viewpoint overlooking the Hudson River Bridge we crossed the day before.
A couple hundred yards farther Tom and Fox reached the Bear Mountain Tower. From the top of the tower the Hudson River Valley and New York City could be seen far in the distance! A long row of old VW beetle cars drove by and also a bicycling group!
We continued to West Mountain for more good views and a photo. On my way down the mountain a family let me take a photo of their Labradoodle carrying a cane twice as long as he was! Crossing Palisades Parkway was scary and dangerous due to fast cars and a hidden curve. I wondered if any hikers had been killed there. ..”
$770 billion for the 2022 U.S. “defense” budget. One might expect we’d be able to afford footbridges in situations like this.