Sunday, May 31, 2015

Bear Mountain Appalachian Trail Loop

Bear Mountain State Park,
Rockland/Orange Counties,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Appalachian Trail: White blaze

Total Time: 1:15 hours
Estimated Distance: 2.5 Miles
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Level of Recommendation: Highly recommended for a relatively short hike with good views
Points of Interest: Views at Bear Mountain, Bear Mountain Tower

The weather had been awful with strong thunderstorms predicted throughout the day. It had rained in the morning, and there was a temporary lull in the rain. I checked the radar and I noticed I had a small window of opportunity to do a hike. I figured the top of Bear Mountain is a good spot since there are lots of people around, rock shelters, and the possibility of hitching a ride in the event of a storm. The weather was very humid with thick clouds, and towards the end of the hike I saw dark clouds rolling in and heard the thunder in the short distance. In fact, it started pouring only about five minutes after getting into my car.

I parked at the end of Perkins Drive on Bear Mountain in the dead end loop. This road continues past the summit and tower to a dead end with a scenic view facing the western flank of the mountain. You can park your car here at the end of the road in the dead end circle and pick up the Appalachian Trail. I headed for a short distance on the former road route where I saw the trailblazers hard at work rebuilding the new AT up to the summit. They were building some new steps out of large carved rock slabs. This new trail should be ready in 2016 and will connect the AT to a shorter route to the summit. If I have my fact correct, the original AT used to go along this route prior to its reroute more to the north several years ago.

I continued along this former road for a bit longer until meeting up with the Appalachian Trail again, on the western portion of the trail which ascends up to the summit. This route was also recently blazed and the intention was to provide some good views from the southern flank of Bear Mountain. I continued along the AT, past the views and past the connector route, where it goes in a roundabout way to the northern flank viewpoint of the mountain. Here there is a good view facing to the north with the Hudson River and Breakneck Ridge, but it was hard to see anything due to the thick cloud cover. I then continued along the trail along the wheelchair accessible route which passes the summit and goes to the tower.

Despite the ominous weather, there was a surprisingly large crowd. However, one could see the clouds darkening with the thunderstorm rolling in from the west. I decided I would make a quick dash along the AT back to the parking area. I continued along the old route due east (this route will be replaced in the coming year), crossing the road twice and going along the road where it meets up with the trail the third time. I got to my car just in the nick of time and was spared the torrential rain that ensued shortly. In fact these storms brought quite a bit of flooding to the region with flash flood warnings and several inches of rain.

Map of the Route. Harriman/Bear Mountain State Parks Northern Map

Big Sign at the Dead End Explaining Volunteer Work on the AT

Active Trail Construction Zone on the Appalachian Trail

Trail Volunteers at Work

Some of the New Steps Created Along the Southern  Flank
of the Appalachian Trail at Bear Mountain

At the First View Along the Trail. Facing Southwest.

Another View Along the Trail Facing West

Large Rockface with Glacial Rocks on the Trail

Lone Tree Above a Cliff

Facing Southeast from the View

Facing Southwest

Facing Southeast

View from the Northern Flank of Bear Mountain.
Not much of a View Here with all the Cloud Cover.

Bear Mountain Tower

The Main View at Bear Mountain.
Note the Ominous Storm Clouds Rolling In

View Facing Southeast; Hudson River and Peekskill

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