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Residents Recall Seeing Rock Slide At Palisades Cliffs In New Jersey

Palisades Cliffs (credit: CBS 2)

Palisades Cliffs (credit: CBS 2)

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ALPINE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A rock slide took out a big section of the Palisades Cliffs, destroying a popular trail.

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The massive chunk of rock came crashing down and fell on top of the trail through a scramble of boulders called the “Giant Stairs” in Alpine.

The rock slide was seen best by rattled residents on the New York side of the Hudson River and now everyone is talking about it.

“It sounded like jet planes flying overhead. We went outside to look up and that’s when we saw — my husband and my son and saw — the rocks falling down. It looked like a big cloud of smoke,” Cathy Gunther told CBS 2′s Christine Sloan.

The shake was so strong, it was picked up by a nearby seismic station. Geologists and the trail supervisor at the park said they haven’t seen anything like it in years.

“These columns with water coming in, erosion and the ice freezing and separating columns eventually become separate from the cliffs — given enough time will fall down,” said Christina Fehre, a Palisades Interstate Park Trail Supervisor.

The Palisades Cliffs are rich in history. Geologists said they were formed by volcanic eruptions 200 million years ago. The section of the park covered with rocks that starts at State Line Lookout is now closed.

So hikers are trying to get a glimpse of the rock slide by looking over the cliffs because they can’t get to the trail.

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“It’s walking over boulders that are anywhere from the the size of a cabbage to the size of car — it’s not a particularly easy stretch of trail,” said Rose Flynn.

The real miracle is no one was hurt because it fell at night.

Park crews will make all the repairs by hand, picking a stable route and filling in gaps along the cliffs. They’re hoping to have the trail open in a month.

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