Hiking at Bear Mountain State Park

Hiking at Bear Mountain State Park (New York State)

Last week, my husband and I went hiking. I’m new to hiking, but as I mentioned in a previous post, we want to see plenty of local places while we still live in New Jersey.  We are both enjoying it, and it’s been a fun weekend hobby instead of traveling to road races.  To be honest, hiking is an incredibly intense workout and it tires me out more than running.

For our next adventure, we drove 2 hours north into New York State to Bear Mountain State Park.  Yes, Rockland County…no not “Upstate, NY”.  As someone who went to school in Potsdam, NY, 30 miles north of New York City is not upstate.

Bear Mountain State Park is about 40 miles north of New York City.  The park itself has a lot to do including a lake for swimming, trails, places to picnic and even a zoo.  There are plenty of moderate trails to hike on the Appalachian Trail too.

When we went, it was a beautiful day which meant there was no parking at all.  Most people were at the lake beach, in fact, even though hundreds of parking spots were filled, we only saw two other parties during our entire hike. Hessian Lake was a zoo and all of the picnic areas at Bear Mountain State Park were taken.

There are plenty of trails at Bear Mountain State Park and Harriman State Parkincluding moderate trails as well as more leisurely and historic trails.  If you aren’t into hiking, there is seasonal cross country skiing, ice skating, boating, trailside museums and zoo, and swimming. In the parking lot of Bear Mountain State Park is the Bear Mountain Inn where you can stay overnight.

We started with the leisurely trails which included a lot of history stops.

Bear Mountain Hiking

Bear Mountain Hiking
Hiking at Bear Mountain State Park
Bear Mountain Hiking
The actual barn at Bear Mountain State Park

After about a mile into our hike at Bear Mountain State Park, we went along the yellow trail and left the historic area.  The trails became much more intense and there were some points we were almost rock climbing.  Considering I’m clumsy, perhaps this wasn’t the best idea. Everything was fine, though and even my ankle felt okay.

Bear Mountain Hiking

It was almost shocking how quiet the trails were because of how busy the Hessian Lake was.  While I was taking in the atmosphere, Tarzan appeared…just kidding.

Bear Mountain Hiking

After about 3 miles into our hike at Bear Mountain State Park and an hour and a half, we made it to the top.  We could see New York State as well as New Jersey.  There were views of Harriman State Park, Hudson Highlands, Bank of the Hudson, Iona Island, Perkins Memorial Tower, Perkins Memorial Drive, Palisades Interstate, Bear Mountain Bridge, and the Hudson Valley.

Talk about a view; it was one of the most incredible views on the East Coast I’ve seen.

Bear Mountain Hiking
Summit at Bear Mountain State Park
bear mountain state park
Summit at Bear Mountain State Park

After hanging out at the summit of Bear Mountain Mountain for a bit, we decided to head back.  Despite having a map, we got lost. There is another red trail we ended up connecting too and it caused us to hike across the entire park.

Our hike was planned to be about 4 miles, but it was 6 for us.  It wasn’t a big deal except I was starving.  Luckily I packed a giant red velvet diner cookie from lunch.

The diner cookie was the real MVP of the hike.

Bear Mountain Hiking

We stopped along the way at Bear Mountain State Park to take photos.  Like when I nailed yoga on a tree…(just kidding)

nature yoga meme

It was a great hike at Bear Mountain State Park and after finally getting back to the car, I was beyond exhausted.  I felt like I had run a marathon, but views were worth it. Adding the extra 2 miles was definitely exhausting.

bear mountain state park tim and i
Hiking at Bear Mountain State Park

At the end of the day, we ended up hiking a 1000+ elevation gain (which is a lot for me). It was a great hike and we are looking forward to going back.

elevation bear mountain
Elevation chart at Bear Mountain State Park

Other hiking related posts:
Hiking Hemlock Falls
Hiking the Hollywood Sign

You can see all hikes here.

Questions for you:
Have you ever been hiking?  Have you gotten lost?
Would you rather go hiking or into the mountains?

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  1. i love hiking! Especially for the surprise workout you get. I think it’s harder than running too–because it’s a ton more strength thrown in there. Love the pics, beautiful views! I wanted to hike so bad this weekend but it’s supposed to be 100 degrees and humid in DC 🙁

  2. Even though parking was tough and it was busy, I’m glad it was pretty empty on the trail for you guys! Love the Tarzan and yoga on a tree pictures, haha. Gotta love hiking!

  3. My hikes almost always end up being way longer than expected because I get lost all.the.time. And you’re definitely right about it feeling like a crazy intense workout. But that makes anything/everything you eat post-hike taste like the most amazing thing you’ve ever eaten… even if it’s just a slice of bread with jam 😆

  4. Looks beautiful! My alma mater is less than a half hour away, in Mahwah NJ. I one of those obstacle course races in the park next door to it, Harriman State Park, back in ’09 or ’10. Nice that such beautiful areas are not all that far away 🙂

  5. First, a big HUZZAH to your upstate comment. It kills me when folks refer to anywhere outside of NYC as “upstate.” I’ve never been to Bear Mountain, but that’s a typical long ride for NYC triathlete who are training for Iron-distance races. I’ll make it there one day!

  6. This area gets such a “bad rap”…so thanks for sharing how gorgeous it can be!
    I love hiking and it’s so true…definitely harder than running! I rarely get out to the trails around here so thanks for sharing this gem.
    Last time I went hiking was Squaw Peak and Camelback in Arizona.

  7. Hiking has been a favorite of mine my whole life. I love to hike but I don’t do it much unless we are camping. Zions or arches national parks are amazing if you ever make it out to Utah.

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