Bear Mountain State Park
Orange and Rockland Counties
Hudson River Valley
About Bear Mountain State Park
The 5,000-acre Bear Mountain State Park, renowned for its natural beauty and rugged mountains, is located at Bear Mountain, New York 10911. Bear Mountain State Park, the flagship of the Palisades Interstate Park System, is just 45 miles north of New York City in the beautiful and historic Hudson River Valley.
Lakes, ponds, forest, hills, and mountains abound at Bear Mountain. Bear Mountain is heavily forested, offering many natural and beautiful sights including
Perkins Memorial Tower.
Of interest to hikers, the historic Appalachian trail is carried across the Bear Mountain Bridge and the
Popolopen Suspension Footbridge in Bear Mountain. Although campgrounds and lodging are available, Bear Mountain Park is primarily a day-use park offering magnificent scenery, photo opportunities, and great hiking for all levels of hikers. The historic Bear Mountain Inn, situated in Bear Mountain Park, overlooks Hessian Lake and provides food and overnight accommodations. Food is also available at several vendors around Hessian Lake and in other areas of the park.
Park activities and attractions
include playing field(s), shaded picnic groves, a dock on the Hudson for mooring small craft, lake and river fishing, pool, zoo and nature park, hiking, biking, cross-country ski trails and ski-jumps, Merry-Go-Round Pavilion, outdoor rink is open to ice skaters from late October through mid-March, and Trailside Museums and Visitor Center.
Bear Mountain Inn
The Bear Mountain Inn is located in the heart of Bear Mountain State Park. The historic rustic
Bear Mountain Inn is a cozy retreat whose grace and charm have drawn discriminating guests since the early part of this century. The Inn overlooks Hessian Lake and provides food and overnight accommodations.
Historic Merry-Go-Round Pavilion at Bear Mountain
A wonderful attraction for kids and parents of all ages is the
Bear Mountain Merry-Go-Round Pavilion. This historic Merry-Go-Round features hand painted scenes of Bear Mountain Park. When it comes to selecting the animal you want to ride; instead of horses you can select one of the native animals of Bear Mountain. Choose a black bear, wild turkey, fox, or even a rabbit or Canadian goose, and enjoy.
Perkins Memorial Tower
Hike, bike, or drive up Perkins Drive to
Perkins Memorial Tower at the summit of Bear Mountain State Park. Experience breathtaking views as you make your way to the top to Perkins Point. Upon reaching Perkins Point you will be rewarded by one of the most beautiful views imaginable. The steep drive leading to Perkins Memorial Tower is 1,305 feet above the Hudson River. With its 360-degree view you can see the Hudson River, the Bear Mountain Bridge, U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Storm King, and Fort Montgomery. The observation floor of the tower offers displays describing the distant views, including the mountain ranges of the: Taconics, Ramapo, Shawangunk, and Catskill Mountains.
Trailside Museums and Wildlife Center - Zoo
The Trailside Museums & Zoo is located in Bear Mountain State Park. See pictures of Bear Mountain's 32 acres overlooking the scenic Hudson River. Read about the two-mile paved interpretive nature trail, resident native, non-releasable wildlife, and four museum buildings which house exhibits that interpret the geology, and natural history of the area and tell the story of the people who lived here. Visit the Local Reptiles, Amphibians, and Fish Museum. Learn about the 17 species of snakes indigenous to New York State. Visit the Geology Museum, History Museum and Nature Study Museum; all available at the
Zoo at Bear Mountain State Park.
At the zoo, children get a glimpse of many of the animals indigenous to the area. The kids enjoy seeing the bald eagle, fox, black bear, river otter, owl, hawk, deer, bobcat, turkey and various types of fish. The Trailside museums highlight the area's history, especially its importance in the Revolutionary War. Also learn about local geology and nature, live fish, reptiles and amphibians. The Trailside Museums at Bear Mountain is a wonderful attraction for all kids and adults.
The Appalachian Trail
In 1921, the idea for the Appalachian Trail originated with a volunteer forester Benton MacKaye. Benton conceived the Trail as a refuge from modern stresses, stretching along the spine of the Appalachian mountains, where hikers could re-connect with the natural world.
On October 7, 1923 the first section of the Appalachian Trail was finished at Bear Mountain. This part of the trail took hikers south to the Delaware Water Gap and served as a model for the many trails that followed. Trails were later joined to comprise the now famous
. Today, the Appalachian trail spans 2,167 miles, and is the first National Scenic trail in the United States. Click to learn more about this Nationally renowned
Appalachian Hiking Trail.
History Bear Mountain State Park
"In the mid-1930s the federal government led by Franklin D. Roosevelt was embarking on its own plan to preserve the environment. The Depression-era public works programs, including the Civil Works Administration and then the Work Progress Administration, spent five years on projects at Bear Mountain State Park.
"Pumphouses, reservoirs, sewer systems, vacation lodges, bathrooms, homes for park staff, storage buildings and an administration building were all created through these programs. A scenic drive to the top of the mountain, called Perkins Memorial Drive, was also constructed, almost totally by hand. And although construction equipment and newer easier-to-work-with building materials were available for use at the time, planners wanted these new buildings constructed with the same principles and designs used to build the lodge in 1915. Workers used stone, boulders and timber to construct the new buildings, a process which took them five years."
The Palisades Park Conservancy.
Brief History of Bear Mountain compiled in 1940
Take note of how much (or how little) it cost to cross the Bear Mountain Bridge.
"At 2.6 m. is the entrance to the
Bear Mountain Bridge (car with passengers, 50 cents; trailer, 35 cents; pedestrian 10 cents). The bridge, which was opened to traffic in November 1924, is 2,257 feet in length; the central span, with a clearance of 135 feet, is 1,632 feet long.
"At 5.6 m., just west of the western approach to Bear Mountain Bridge, is the junction with US 9W . . . (see Tour 21A) and the eastern entrance to the Bear Mountain Section of the Palisades Interstate Park. This 1,000-acre park, named for Bear Mountain (1,314 alt.), which rises steeply above the Hudson, is one of the most popular recreational centers near New York City (facilities for roller skating - 35 cents including skates' bathing - lockers 35 cents weekdays, 50 cents Sun. and holidays; rowing - boats 25 cents an hour weekdays, 50 cents Sun. and holidays, $1 deposit; tennis - courts 50 cents an hour; baseball - diamond $1 an hour; tobogganing and skiing in winter). The Trailside Museum (open, free) informs visitors about plants and animals in their native setting; the ramparts of the Revolutionary Fort Clinton have been carefully restored.
"US 6 continues westward through the park on Popolopen Drive. At 6.8 m. is the junction with Perkins Memorial Drive. Left on this road, which climbs gradually, to the parking place near the Summit of Bear Mountain, 2.3 m., where a large parking space and an observation tower have been built for the convenience of those who wish to study the magnificent panorama of the Hudson Valley. The drive winds down the south side of the mountain to a junction, 4.7 m., with Seven Lakes Drive."
"New York, A Guide to the Empire State"
, Compiled by workers of the Writer's Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of New York, 1940 Albany