After hiking Breakneck Ridge last year, I made a trip to Bear Mountain less than two weeks ago. It was peek fall season, which means the leaves on the trees have just the right color to symbolize perfect fall foliage on the Northeast Coast. You can actually see Bear Mountain opposite the Hudson River when standing on top of Breakneck Ridge. A friend of mine had gone hiking here last year and recommended it, as the commute is quite easy from Manhattan. Only a shot 1 1/2 hour ride from Manhattan by bus to get to this beautiful state park.
I was dropped off right outside the Bear Mountain Inn, which seems to be a hotel or at least a restaurant on several levels. On the bottom floor, you can grab some fast food in case you don’t want to be seated and just need a quick bite/drink. On the top floor, you have some fancier dining options and this also seems to be where the accommodations are. I heard the state park can get quite crowded during holidays in the summer (such as 4th of July) and when I went on a regular Sunday in October, the Inn was quite overpopulated, too. Perhaps winter is a great time to evade those crowds, but who really wants to go hiking in the snow?
Because of the easy accessibility of Bear Mountain, lots of people tend to go when the weather is nice. And since lots of people also appreciate wonderful fall colors, during peak fall foliage season it can get a bit crazy around here. I was certainly able to hike around without too many incidents but I certainly noticed more hikers, families, and school groups
standing in my way walking around than in Breakneck Ridge.
A small part of the Appalachian Trail leads through Bear Mountain (2 miles one way, to be exact). There is an easier route and a rockier route. I decided to take the easier ones (the original trail) for both up and down, since my main purpose was to enjoy myself and take wonderful pictures.
There were surely some photo amazing opportunities to gain a better understanding of fall foliage, scenery, and Bear Mountain itself. Too bad that most of the times either a person, dog or kid stood in my way. I guess fall foliage is best enjoyed with family or friends.
The first part of the trail was fairly easy: I climbed up a paved path, which turned into a dirt path. Then I crossed a street, on which cars were able to drive (which makes me think that the top is certainly accessible by car). The last part entailed a bit of a rock scramble (although not as tough as the one at Breakneck Ridge). Once at the top, there is a tower you can view and of course the scenery over the Historic Hudson Valley and onto the river.
Walking back down was certainly easier and also faster than up. I didn’t have time to check out the other amenities in the area, but there is a zoo and a few other spots you can view once you make it down again. I guess I have to return one day and check it out. Overall the hike was a bit more than 4 miles, which is a good amount for three hours.
Bear Mountain reminded me that the ultimate goal is not the destination but the path that leads to the destination. The rocky road to the top was certainly way more interesting and fulfilling than the actual view form the top, which was just an added perk to the beautiful colors nature provided us with on that particular weekend.
How to get to Bear Mountain: A roundtrip by bus from Port Authority is only $27.50. Usually the commute takes 1 1/2 hours, but my luck had it that I got stuck in traffic to and fro, as the Octoberfest was going on during the day and lots of cars crawled up the hill. On the way back, we encountered the usual Sunday evening traffic back in to Manhattan.