Bear Mountain State Park Travel Guide
Bear Mountain State Park covers 5,000 acres on the west bank of the Hudson River in Rockland County, New York. The park, not too far north of New York City, is a popular getaway spot for hiking, swimming, boating, skiing, and a host of other activities. Bear Mountain and other peaks, stunning views over the Hudson, and a rich historical background also contribute to its fame.
During the American Revolution, the are around Bear Mountain State Park was a conflict zone between the British and Americans since control of the Hudson River was deemed critical at the time. The region remained rugged wilderness even as surrounding areas were settled, and plans were made to relocate Sing Sing Prison to the area due to its relative isolation. However, after much lobbying by activist groups, the prison scheme was cancelled, and the region was opened to the public as a new state park in 1913.
Things to see and do in Bear Mountain State Park
Go up Perkins Memorial Drive to the top of Bear Mountain. There, you can climb 40-foot-tall Perkins Memorial Tower and scan the landscape. Four states can be seen from the tower, and even skyscrapers in Manhattan, 40 miles south, can be seen.
Travel any of the many hiking trails that traverse this “island of wilderness” in a densely populated state. The mountains, forests, lakes, Hudson River, and native wildlife are both impressive and relaxing.
Tour the Trailside Museums and Zoo, which is located along the Appalachian Trail. At the zoo, you will find bears, deer, bald eagles, reptiles, amphibians, various species of fish, and much more. There is a Geology Museum that explains the lay of the local landscape and a History Museum that if very informative on both Native American and early colonial lifestyles. The facilities themselves stand at the site where once stood historic Fort Clinton.
Hike over to the Hudson River Boat Dock, where you can get a wonderful photo shot of the Bear Mountain Bridge. You can also go crab fishing at this spot, but note the posted sign to see how many crabs you can legally catch.
Just behind the History Museum, take a rugged path to see the remains of Fort Montgomery, a fort built in 1776 to guard the Hudson River against British incursions.
Visit the Iona Island Bird Sanctuary, just over on the other side of the Hudson. This is not technically within Bear Mountain State Park, but it should not be missed.
Warm summers and cold, snowy winters mean that Bear Mountain State Park offers something to tourist all year round. Seeing the forest turn colors in the fall and the new life appear in the spring make a trip to the park all the more scenic.
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