Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Hike in the Park - Bear Mountain State Park, NY

After my recent trip around the U.S. I decided I should spend some time exploring closer to home. After all, New York State apparently has 215 state parks and historic sites, many of which are within a couple of hours drive from where I live, so there is no shortage of places to visit.

As fall arrived with slightly cooler temperatures and lower humidity it seemed the perfect time to go for a hike. Given that most of my walking tends to be on the flat and often in the city, I was looking for a trail which would provide an element of challenge without being too scary and, ideally, some nice views. A little online research offered the Major Welch Trail at Bear Mountain State Park as an option. Rated as ‘difficult’ but only just over four miles round trip it sounded just what I was looking for. It also had the advantage that the drive from home to the park along Route 9 was scenic in itself.

 The visitors’ parking lot is close to many of the amenities offered in the park. These include picnic tables, paddle boat rentals on the lake, a children’s playground, a trail-side museum and even a carousel.

This strange shaped building houses the carousel.

The trail starts alongside the lake, a gentle stroll with pleasant views.

So pleasant that we managed to miss the turn-off for the Major Welch Trail and had to retrace our steps. A beaten pathway led us upwards through the trees, nothing too challenging to start, but then we reached the rocks and the walk became more of a scramble. 

Did we really just come up that narrow path?

And then there wasn't really a path at all, just the red dot on the white card on the tree to show you which way to go.

Bear Mountain Bridge over the Hudson River

But the rewards were worth it. Especially the fabulous views of the Hudson River.

By this point we weren’t too far from our destination and we were told by two walkers on their way down that it was only ten minutes to the top. Of course, it turned out to be more like twenty in reality!

Just as I was thinking the downhill trail had to be easier than the ascent, we met a family of four who were walking the trail in the opposite direction to us. As the two children were quite young I mentioned that the trail they were about to go down could prove to be quite a challenge for them to which they responded that it couldn’t be much more difficult than the way they had come up, with masses of steps and in the words of the youngest “like mountain climbing.” Not exactly what I wanted to hear at that point!

But for now we were at the top, time for a lunch break and to take in the magnificent views.
Perkins Memorial Tower

It was such a clear day that if you looked very hard the skyline of Manhattan was visible in the far distance. 

Can you make out the skyline? It's in the center of the photo!
Our descent was via the Appalachian Trail and, as the family had suggested, it was mostly stepped, but at least on a definite pathway, and there was only a very short scramble over rocks. I didn't think the trail was anywhere near as difficult as the Major Welch Trail, and I couldn’t help wondering how the family had got on – I don’t think I would have enjoyed going down the way we’d come up so  I'm glad we followed the suggested hike route.

There are a number of other trails in the State Park including easy strolls for those just looking for a leisurely walk. And for anyone looking for a longer getaway, the Bear Mountain Inn offers accommodation and dining. 

The Bear Mountain Inn


  1. Replies
    1. The more I see, the more I want to see! There's just so many beautiful places to explore, my 'to visit' list just keeps getting longer and longer:-)

  2. Fabulous! Makes me want to get out and hike!

  3. Thanks DV. It's certainly a great way to take a break from writing and the computer!