One of the most well known recreational areas in the Hudson Valley, Bear Mountain State Park [Palisades Parkway or Route 9W North Bear Mountain, NY 10911] is a place for the whole family and the hiking enthusiast alike. While there are many activities to partake in the park, I had one task to accomplish, summiting the namesake Bear Mountain.
Length: 4 mile loop
Fee: $10 or free with Empire Pass
Difficulty: moderately strenuous
The parking lot was busy on a summer weekend, but it was easy to locate the starting point of the hike in this expansive park. The trails are very well marked throughout the hike. Head to the Bear Mountain Inn and take the paved path towards the lake where you will run into the beginning of the red dot on white blaze Major Welch Trail, is 2.5 miles in its entirety.
It starts of gentle enough, winding around the lake, and then heads up the mountain.
Some areas are a bit of a scramble, one so steep it even has a chain to help you up.
Along the way there were pink rocks, raspberries, and blueberries.
After some time and a lot of sweat, you will run into more people than you would expect. Note that there is a road that you can drive up to the summit. Always a bit alarming after hiking up a mountain to see so many people and have to worry about cars, but it is a fun and challenging hike regardless. At the summit area you can climb Perkins Tower,
take in the views on the rocks, and have a picnic.
There is even a bathroom and snack shop at the summit. When you are ready to continue, stay the course of the red dot on white blaze trail until it terminates, following sings for the Appalachian Trail and ‘the Inn’.You are now descending on the white blazed Appalachian Trail, 1.5 in length to the base of the mountain crisscrossing with the road a few times and then back through the woods. There are some great views,
fine stone staircases,
you may see some people who are doing the whole AT, or even a deer in this populated park.
Back down in the main area you can extend your day by renting a paddleboat, bbqing, riding the carousel, taking a dip in the pool, or visiting the zoo and museum.