Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hike Bear Mountain NY,Trails or Climb Steps to Top

 Click for closeups of Bear Mountain hiking trails.
(You can find another map view showing the northern end of the park at the end of the post.)

Driving directions: from the Palisades Interstate Parkway (North or South)
Get off at exit 19 (Bear Mountain State Park) and take Seven Lakes Drive for 3 1⁄2 miles to the Bear Mountain Circle. At the circle, take the second right. Follow signs for the parking lots. ** IF YOU MISS EXIT 19, take the Parkway to the Bear Mountain Bridge Circle. At this circle, make the first right onto 9W south and go to the traffic light. Bear right and go up the hill.
By Bus: New Jersey Short Line See schedule and link to NY/NJ Trail Conference for trail difficulty information.

Mild weather in the first week of November was perfect for a hike on the historical 1777 Trail, the 1779 Trail and the Timp to the top of  Bald Mountain, or so we thought when we joined the AMC group at Bear Mountain State Park.

The Bear Mountain Inn is reopened after an eight-year renovation, but the second floor with the restaurant and guest rooms will not be open until January.

We were starting on the historical 1777 Trail to the 1779 Trail.  

We passed the sign indicating the way to Doodletown, a 19th-century settlement notable for its cemeteries and remains of old buildings.


Early storms felled trees...

and snows thawed and washed away paths.

Yellow police tape warned of danger. 

Fearless Leader took the group back to the police station at Bear Mountain Inn and got trail info.

It was going to be the AT all the way. Follow the white trail blazes.

Soon, we were climbing the steps of the Appalachian Trail to the top of Bear Mountain.

Yes, steps! In 2010, after 4 years of work completed by volunteers and some full-timers, this one-mile section of the A. T. was opened. The 800 steps were cut from solid granite that lead around beautiful stone arches and retaining supports and is expected to last forever. This section has been rebuilt before because of heavy usage: it's only 40 miles from NYC and easily reachable by the half-million frequenters a year.

The Bear Mountain Bridge crosses the Hudson to Manitou, NY, just one stop south of Garrison on Metro North Railroad. 

After we had walked many hundreds of steps, we thought we had to have reached our goal, but no, just a viewpoint along the way, with the Hudson in the distance.

At last we made it to the top to find Perkins Tower, built in 1934 as a memorial to George W. Perkins, chairman of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission. The tower affords a spectacular view of Bear Mountain Park, the Hudson Highlands, and Harriman State Park.

A few steps from the tower is a vantage point for Manhattan city skyline, very faintly visible here at about 3 o'clock.

We found this natty fellow posing for the crowds near the tower, next to the parking lot. BTW, you can reach this gorgeous spot without the arduous climb. Just drive!!
Follow this map:
Though we were tempted to hitch a ride down, we stuck to the trail. Some of us sporting hiking boots and walking poles were huffing and puffing, but here we must admit, there were many others in sneakers or flip-flops just hopping up and down the path with their dogs and babies in tow!

After a brief lunch, we headed back down the 800 steps. The old pedometer registered 6 miles in all, but the quads and glutes got a great workout on the climb!

Top of Bear Mountain and points north.