Bear Mountain-Harriman State Parks

Park Overview:

Bear Mountain and Harriman State Parks in New York combine to cover nearly 52,000 acres of mostly forested landscape with hundreds of miles of trails--including the Appalachian Trail--a rich hiking resource close to New York City.

Trail Uses:Hiking, Handicapped
Dogs:Dogs on leash
Trail Miles:235 miles
Park Acreage:52000 acres
City/County/
State:
Bear Mountain/Rockland/NY
Buy Trail Map:Harriman-Bear Mountain Trails Map set
Buy Book:Harriman Trails: A Guide and History

New York Walk Book
Park Description:

 

The variety of trails looping across the rugged landscape, draped upon the Highlands, is a major part of the appeal of Bear Mountain and Harriman State Parks. Covering nearly 52,000 acres, this network of practically infinite trail combinations is unmatched in the area surrounding metropolitan New York. The hiker may choose to climb through the crevices of the Lemon Squeezer, savor the views of the Hudson from high on Dunderberg Mountain, or ramble on old woods roads past sleepy swamps and abandoned mining villages. The Bear Mountain Inn area [the Inn is closed for renovations] is itself a destination for many families to enjoy its numerous attractions, including access to several hiking trails.

For a history of the park and a complete guide to marked and unmarked trails, see Harriman Trails: A Guide and History, by William Myles [New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, 3d ed., 2010]. See also Chapter 16 of the New York Walk Book [NYNJTC, 7th ed., 2005]  [Since Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks are so intertwined, a nearly identical on-line description can be found at Harriman-Bear Mountain State Park]

Bear Mountain State Park official website

Harriman State Park official website

Trails Overview:

With more than 235 miles of trails, approximately fifty marked trails, and three-dozen plus woods trails not to mention unmarked trails, it seems best to feature just a few major trail access points with parking areas.

  • Reeves Meadow Visitors Center: One of the most popular trails in the park, the Pine Meadow trail [5.5 miles; red on while] leads to the north shore of Pine Meadow Lake. A 0.2-mile hike east from the parking area towards Sloatsburg on Pine Meadow Trail connects to Seven Hills Trail [blue dot on white]; 300 feet east of the visitors center on Pine Meadow Trail is the trailhead [on the right] of the Reeves Brook Trail [white].
  • Bear Mountain Inn: The large parking area [though it becomes full in good weather, or on special holidays] is an access point to several trails, including the Appalachian [white], Anthony Wayne [2.8 miles, white], 1777E [red "1777" on white], Suffern-Bear Mountain [23.5 miles, yellow], and Cornell Mine Trails [2.5 miles, blue]. Also the Twin Forts Trail, a short path connecting the sites of the historic Fort Clinton and Fort Montgomery [including the modest Fort Montgomery visitor center] and also leading to the Timp-Torne [11.2 miles, blue] and Popolopen Gorge trails [4.5 miles, red on white].
    • Significant improvements are underway for trails in this section of the park; volunteers are welcomed to join the NYNJ Trail Conference's Bear Mountain Trails Project.
  • Anthony Wayne Recreation Area: The mid-point of the Anthony Wayne Trail [2.8 miles; white] forms a loop with the Popolopen Gorge Trail [red on white] at Turkey Hill Lake and the Timp-Torne Trail [blue] on the west end of West Mountain.
  • Elk Pen Parking Area: On the western side of the park, there is access to the Appalachian Trail, Arden-Surebridge Trail [6.3 miles, red triangle on white] and Island Pond.

The Appalachian Trail [18.0 miles, white] traverses the northern section of the park, extending from the Bear Mountain Bridge at the Hudson River west to NY 17. On the way, it intersects or runs jointly with eleven other marked trails, and it can be combined with these trails to make a variety of loop hikes.

This section of the Appalachian Trail in the park was the first of the 2,160 mile-long A.T. to be completed, and much of it still follows the original route. Improvement are still being made to the A.T. on Bear Mountain which is the focal point of a multi-year, multi-agency trail building and rehabilitation project being led by the Trail Conference. Learn more about the Bear Mountain Trails Project.

  • Before proceeding west on the A.T. from Bear Mountain Inn, hikers may wish to follow the trail east, through a pedestrian tunnel under US 9 W, into the Trailside Museum and Zoo, which features native plants, animals, reptiles and birds. A sign on the A.T. as it passes through the museum marks the lowest point on the entire trail from Maine to Georgia - 124 feet above sea level.
  • Both ends of the trail in the park are readily accessible. See Directions below to either Bear Mountain Inn or Elk Pen Parking Area.

Doodletown near Bear Mountain, an isolated hamlet surviving for 200 years -- but a ghost town since the mid-1960s -- is a popular destination for hikers.  Click for more information. 

For a collection of detailed hikes go to the “Find a Hike” page, scroll down to “Harriman State Park” and “Harriman-Bear Mountain State Park.”

Directions:
  • Reeves Meadow Visitors Center: From NY 17 in Sloatsburg take Seven Lakes Drive 1.4 miles
  • Bear Mountain Inn: From the Palisades Interstate Parkway [north or south], get off at exit 19 [Bear Mtn. Park] and take Seven Lakes Drive for 3½ miles to the Bear Mountain Circle. At the circle, take the second right. Follow the signs to Parking Lots. If you miss exit 19, take the Parkway to the Bear Mountain Bridge Circle. At this circle, make the first right onto 9W south and go to the traffic light. Bear right and go up the hill. Parking fees apply.
  • Anthony Wayne Recreation Area: From the Palisades Interstate Parkway, take Exit 17
  • Elk Pen Parking Area: Take Route 17 north through Southfields, NY, turn right [east] onto Arden Valley Road, pass under the NY State Thruway [no access], then turn right on Elk Pen Road. From Route 17 south, Arden Valley Road is two miles south of the Harriman train station. [Google Maps: "Rt 17 and Arden Valley Road, NY 10975" The satellite view will show the parking area.]
  • Public transportation: Short Line buses from the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal to the Bear Mountain Inn also stop, if requested, along US 9W at Tomkins Cove and Jones Point. Short Line buses and Metro-North trains to Suffern, Sloatsburg, Tuxedo, Southfields, Arden, and Harriman give access to trails on the west side of the parks.
Contact Information:OPRHP-NYS Parks, Bear Mountain
845-786-2701
Region:Harriman-Bear Mountain State Parks
Fees:Some times and places; check with park

Comment: Please be relevant, civil, non-commercial.

Pine Meadow Trail “detour” to Pine Meadow Lake

 

To reach Pine Meadow Lake from the Reeves Meadow Visitor Center, begin (as usual) by following the red-square-on-white-blazed Pine Meadow Trail. However, where the Pine Meadow Trail turns right and heads uphill, away from the brook, continue straight ahead on the yellow-blazed Stony Brook Trail, which continues to parallel Stony Brook (to your left).  At the site of a washed-out bridge over Stony Brook, the white-blazed Kakiat Trail joins.  Continue ahead, now following both yellow and white blazes. After crossing a wooden bridge over Pine Meadow Brook (one that actually survived Hurricane Irene), the yellow-blazed Stony Brook trail leaves to the left.  Bear right here, now following the white-blazed Kakiat Trail, with Pine Meadow Brook on your right. Continue for several miles until, at the site of another washed-out bridge, the white blazes abruptly end on your side of the brook. Proceed ahead, now once again following the red-square-on-white-blazed Pine Meadow Trail, which leads to Pine Meadow Lake.

7 Lakes Drive open via detour

Seven Lakes Drive is now accessible from Route 17 in Sloatsburg via a detour.  Traveling north about one-half mile beyond the normal turn-off is a temporary traffic light.  Angle right down a ramp to Washington Avenue.  Travelling south on Route 17, turn left at the temporary traffic light.

Washington Avenue leads to a T-intersection with Seven Lakes Drive just as it passes under the NYS Thruway.  Turn left, the park entrance is straight ahead.

Connection to Route 17 back to normal

Sloatsburg Bridge to 7 Lakes Drive in Harriman has been reopened. Connection to Route 17 back to normal

Hunting in parts of Harriman

Hikers should be aware that hunting is allowed in 2010 in the area of Harriman west of Route 87 and into Sterling Forest State Park. Other areas of Harriman-Bear Mountain are not open to hunting.

Link: http://www.nynjtc.org/news/deer-hunting-dates-new-york-and-new-jersey-2010

 

Western End of Major Welch Trail Closed.

The western end of the Major Welch Trail -- from the Perkins Memorial Tower on the summit of Bear Mountain to its former terminus on Perkins Drive -- has been permanently closed. The Major Welch Trail now terminates at the Perkins Memorial Tower. The trail remains open from its trailhead at Hessian Lake to the summit of Bear Mountain.

Crews are at work this summer building a new stretch of the Appalachian Trail on the south side of the mountain, which will incorporate the views of the closed section of the Major Welch Trail. The focus is on relocating the Appalachian Trail off of Perkins Memorial Drive and into the woods, providing a more "backcountry style" of trail. Trail workers aim to complete this project in early September and open it to the public soon after.

Source: TC news release

800 steps made of 1,000-pound slabs of granite

"A Jolt of Energy for a Much Trod-Upon Trail," by Peter Applebome, New York Times, May 31, 2010 [excerpt]

"David Litke, trail name Denver Dave, was descending Bear Mountain about 45 miles from Midtown Manhattan, finishing up a two-month, 700-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail, when he came upon - what?

It was a wilderness trail, yes, but a preternaturally precise and elegant one, 800 steps made of 1,000-pound slabs of granite, and more than one mile of walkway supported by stone crib walls with boulders called gargoyles guarding the edges of the path, and trees and greenery totally undisturbed. It looked equally like an immaculate walkway that had been there forever, and like something plopped down by aliens who were skilled in stonecutting and possessed a feel for the soul of the A.T.

'Wow,' Mr. Litke said to a group at the bottom of the hill. 'That is one beautiful trail. Someone could really give a lesson in trail building here.'

Actually, two of the people there did help put together the project, which has transformed the most traveled and one of the oldest sections of the most famous hiking trail in America. Eddie Walsh, a professional trail builder, managed the day-to-day work, and Edward Goodell, executive director of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, helped oversee and coordinate the project."

For full article click here: NYT

From the October 2009 Trail

From the October 2009 Trail Walker newsletter:

 

Victory Trail

Several hikers have reported that a section of the Victory Trail, which is a utility road, was barely noticeable until recent work. Construction of a road accessible to large utility trucks was begun by the park after the utilities advised that without the road development, the lines to park facilities would not be serviced. As of the September 2009 deadline for this newsletter, clearing and construction of a widened dirt road over the trail, extending from a short distance north of Lake Skenonto, south to the terminus of the trail, was nearly complete. Culverts have been installed for drainage at some low spots.

The Trail Conference has requested that low spots be filled in and the road and adjoining surfaces be made as neat as reasonable before departing the project. During an early September field trip to the site, the Victory Trail remained blazed adequately to follow. Maintainers Seth Schwartz, Janet Waegel, and Wayne Miller planned to attend to the trail by the end of September.

We thank the several hikers who reported and questioned this major trail disruption. Trail users are often the first to be aware of trail issues and we encourage your eyewitness reports. To report a trail issue or problem go to our website, click on the Community tab and choose Report a Trail Problem; or call 201-512-9348.

Blue Disc Trail

A large number of the blue disc-on-white trail blazes were removed this past summer by persons unknown, who not only damaged and removed blaze tags, but hacked off painted blazes from the trees. Re-blazing has been accomplished for the eastern two-thirds of the trail and, as of September, is adequate to follow the entire trail length.

Nurian Trail

As of late September, the bridge over the Ramapo River, between Route 17 and the Southfields Pedestrian Bridge over the NY State Thruway, was impassable. Watch our website for news of the bridge reopening.

Also on the Nurian Trial, of the two low bridges across Stahahe Brook, the more eastern one had collapsed and Trail Conference volunteers have removed it; at this time the park is unable to provide materials to replace it. The almost adjacent western bridge has sagged but is currently crossable though slippery. Both stream crossings are quite easily achieved without use of the bridges.

Parking Note: Parking is not allowed at the defunct Red Apple Rest or on surrounding private property. Parking is available about 0.8-mile northwest of Route 17 on Hall Drive from Orange Turnpike, but would entail a road walk. Parking should also be allowable at the Southfields Post Office during hours that it is not open--but never in the adjacent privately owned lot. The difficulty of parking in this location may also affect hikers who would otherwise plan to connect with other trails, such as the Stahahe Brook, White Bar, and Dunning Trails.

 

Kanawauke Lake and Route 106

Route 106 remains closed between Lake Kanawauke and Little Long Pond, due to deterioration of two bridges. Repair has begun on one of them and is expected to be completed and the road opened by winter. The lakes are being drained to allow the repair work to be accomplished and for some weed control. Parking on 106 from 7-Lakes Drive is available at Lake Kanawauke, and from Route 17 the road is also passable to the closed bridge, providing access to parking for the Parker Cabin Hollow and White Bar Trails, Island Pond Road, and Victory and Ramapo-Dunderberg Trails .