Sunday, November 15, 2015

Bear Mountain AT/Major Welch Loop

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

Hiking Trails:
Appalachian Trail: White blaze
Major Welch Trail: Red blaze

Total Time: 2:30 hours
Estimated Distance: 3.9 Miles
Level of Difficulty: Difficult
Level of Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Points of Interest: Highly scenic area
Cons: very busy area

This was another nice November day, and although slightly brisk as well, for much of the hike I was wearing short sleeves without a jacket. Only once the sun was on the other side of the mountain did I need to put my coat back on. Due to an event that I had earlier in day, I started the hike later in the day and arrived down at the end of daylight.

I had heard from someone who read in the newspaper that the new Appalachian Trail at Bear Mountain had been opened. The trail conference has been working on the last stretch of the new Appalachian Trail from the dead of at the end of Perkins Memorial Drive to the mountain summit. The construction has been going on for some time and I presumed this was the stretch of the hiking trail that had been opened. Unbeknownst to my knowledge, it had been the part of the Appalachian on the southern approach that had been rerouted with a new trail, and this part that I went on had indeed not yet been completed.

Being a nice Sunday in the fall, the main parking area was full when I arrived, so I was routed to the parking at the ice skating rink. I walked along the side of the rink on the large grassy field towards Hessian Lake. I stopped to take some pictures at the lake, and then proceeded to climb up Bear mountain on its eastern approach on the Appalachian Trail.

This part of the trail is steep, but is entirely rebuilt with stone steps. It is one of the busiest hiking trails in the area, if not the busiest. There is a constant flow of people on this trail coming both up and down. I took the trail up to the view of Iona Island and Peekskill, past the small waterfall immediately after the view, and the hit the dead end of Perkins Drive.

This is the part where the new trail is being rebuilt. I noticed the under construction fence was still there by the new trail, but it was pushed down, and a jogging couple was coming down it. I also noticed that the trail markers were still showing the old route along Perkins Drive, and not up the new path part. This left me very confused, so I continued along the new unfinished trail thinking it was opened but not fully marked yet. However, the lack of additional people here soon led me to the conclusion that indeed I had been mistaken and this part of the trail was not the part that had been opened. At about 3/4 the way along this new unfinished trail, I noticed the well-groomed trail just ended abruptly. I continued along bushwacking from here to the short distance to the summit.

At the summit, which was full of people, I took a short brake in the tower, and then continued along the Appalachian Trail to the Major Welch Trail. I took the Major Welch Trail down its steep and rocky northern descent. Over here I found a new part of the trail from a recent rerouting of the Major Welch trail. From there I continued on the path until it reached Hessian Lake, and I went around the lake on the eastern side before heading back over to the field and ice skating rink where I had parked the car.

Map of the Route
Harriman/Bear Mnt Northern Map

Hessian Lake, from the Southern Side

The First View While Ascending the AT
Iona Island, The Hudson River, and Peekskill are in the Background

Me at the First View

Small Waterfall right after the View on the AT

Sign Saying the New Trail Isn't Opened Yet, with the Fence Pushed Down

Part of the New AT

View Along the Ridge Looking Towards Peekskill

View Near the Summit Facing South, Toward West Mountain & The Timp

Nice New Steps Just Built

View from the Summit Facing South

View from the Summit West

View Facing North on the Descent on the Major Welch

View Facing East Towards The Bear Mountain Bridge from the Major Welch

The Same View Zooomed In

Continuing the Descent on the Northern Front

Zoomed Out Viewing the Hudson River, Anthony's Nose,
& the Bear Mountain Bridge

Hill Near Popolopen With some Late-Season Foliage

Descending Along the Large Rocks on the AT

Sign Showing the Re-routed Major Welch Trail

Sign at the Major Welch Trail

Hessian Lake and Anthony's Nose

Interesting Picture in Hessian Lake, with Leaves in the Water,
and Scenery Reflected in the Lake Upside Down

Hessian Lake, Facing South near Sunset

Hessian Lake, Facing North

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