Sunday, February 22, 2015

Frozen Hessian Lake at Bear Mountain

Bear Mountain State Park,
Rockland and Orange Cos.,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Major Welch Trail: Red blaze

Hiking Partner:
Shimmy Rosenberg

Total time: 1:10 hour
Estimated Distance: 1.5 miles
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Level of Recommendation: Highly Recommended
Points of Interest: Frozen lake, scenic area
Pros: Pretty scenery and frozen lake
Cons: Area is overly developed, charge to park

After returning from my trip from California, where the temperature was in the upper 80's, I came back to the frigid snowy climate on the east coast. Actually this was one of the few days that the high temperature was above freezing, and it was sunny and quite pleasant. The lakes were still well frozen, with an ice layer of about 18 inches thick (they need to be 6 inches thick to be safe.) It had just snowed about 6 inches the night before, so there was a fresh layer of snow on the ground. Since we were short on time, we decided to do one of the smaller lakes, Hessian Lake. Hessian Lake is a well-known lake at the foot of Bear Mountain, with a nice, easy walking path going around it.

We tried parking at the bottom of the park at the Hudson River Landing, where parking is free, but the area wasn't plowed at all and there was no way to get in here (there was still about two feet of snow on the ground.) So were forced to park in the main parking area at the inn where there is an $8 charge. We walked past the inn to Hessian Lake, walked across the length of the lake from south to north, and then took the path on the western side of the lake back. This path is actually part of the Major Welch Trail which ends at the southern end of the lake. We then walked up the hill to the grassy area and passed by the ice skating rink, then returning back to our car.

I had actually come again later in the day to take my kids sledding on the hill, and the walk on the lake. We were fortunate to meet several fisherman on the lake who were catching large fish while ice fishing, including brown trout and a largemouth bass.

Map of the Route
Harriman/Bear Mnt Trails Northern Map

Signs by the Lake, and Indicator Ice Depth is Safe

At the Southern End of Hessian Lake

Me on Hessian Lake, with Bear Mountain to my Rear

Me on Hessian Lake, with the Hudson Highlands to my Rear

View of Bear Mountain from Hessian Lake

View Northeast from Hessian Lake. Note the Sky Color.

Looking West Towards Bear Mountain.
One of my Finest Photo Shots in Recent Months.

Our Footsteps Near the Northern End of the Lake

Shimmy Relaxing at the Northern End of the Lake

Anthony's Nose from Across Hessian Lake

Shimmy Sitting on a Snow-Covered Bench

Me Ascending a Small Hill With Anthony's Nose in View 

Hessian Lake, Bear Mountain Bridge, and Anthony's Nose

Shimmy Sliding Down an Embankment

Parked Paddleboats at the Hessian Lake Boat Launch

Shimmy Walking Along the Trail

Panorama on Hessian Lake


  1. Hi,

    Love your Blog.

    Any recommendations for finding a large pine grove, near parking for an over night with a four year old. I want to introduce my wife and young daughter to Harriman and want her to experience sleeping on a pine needle forest floor. Because she is so small it will have to be 1-2 miles from where we can park the car. I remember going to such a place when I was a child but that was a while ago and I can't remember the way.

    Any suggestions? Thank you.

  2. There is a nice pine grove to the south of the Anthony Wayne Parking area (southern unit). Its a pretty short walk from the parking area. Another nice one is by the Lake Nawahunta northern shore, on the Menomine Trail. However, overnights are only allowed in shelters or in the campground. My suggestion would be to do it the right way and go to the Beaver Pond campground if you are looking to stay overnight with a 4 year old.