15 Best Things to Do in Bear Mountain, NY

 Bear Mountain, NY
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Bear Mountain used to be the primary ski-jumping site in the United States and one of the well-known peaks of New York’s Hudson Highlands.

Partially located in Orange County and Rockland County, Bear Mountain extends to the adjacent Bear Mountain Bridge and Bear Mountain State Park.

The summit is approachable by a paved road and has many roadside vantage points, including a picnic area and an observatory known as the Perkins Memorial Tower.

From the summit, you can look as far as Manhattan and the monument on High Point in New Jersey.

Meanwhile, the vertical face of the mountain commands a view of the Hudson River.

The place was historically called "Bread Tray Mountain" and "Bear Hill" and was usually traversed by many hiking trails, including the oldest portion of the Appalachian Trail.

Start packing your bags and explore the fun things to do in Bear Mountain, New York.

Visit Bear Mountain State Park

Aerial view of Bear Mountain State Park
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Located on Palisades Parkway, Bear Mountain State Park sits on jagged mountains descending from the Hudson River’s west bank.

The family-friendly park features a vast play field, shaded picnic groves, hiking and biking trails, and much more.

Bear Mountain State Park is one of the most frequented parks in the northeast, welcoming over three million visitors annually.

It’s a day-use park with almost 5,000 acres of open spaces accessible by car and bus and the conventional system of hiking trails.

Fishing at Bear Mountain State Park
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It is also the first section of the Appalachian Trail.

Your kids will love riding the Merry-Go-Round with 42 chiseled and hand-painted seats of local animals such as wild turkey, raccoon, fox, rabbit, and black bear, to name a few.

Bear Mountain State Park offers river and lake fishing access, a swimming pool, and an outdoor ice rink.

Bench along a hiking trail at Bear Mountain State Park
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Learn History and Local Ecology at Trailside Museums and Zoo

The Trailside Museums and Zoo is the perfect place to get up close with native wildlife in exhibits while you walk through the forest and also see native gardens.

You can’t help but appreciate the amazing scenery created by geologic forces for millions of years.

Located on Seven Lakes Drive, the zoo also specializes in treating injured animals and keeps them for rehabilitation.

It features four museums: the Herpetology Museum, Nature Study Museum, Geology Museum, and History Museum.

You’ll also find a statue of the American poet Walt Whitman and a memorial plaque to Stephen Mather.

Apart from a self-guided nature trail, the Trailside Museums and Zoo offers year-round nature education and programs to school groups and the general public.

Admire Nature from the Perkins Memorial Tower

Rainbow over the Perkins Memorial Tower
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Constructed in honor of George Walbridge Perkins, the Perkins Memorial Tower sits on top of Bear Mountain, offering a 360° view of the Harriman State Park, the Palisades, and the Hudson River.

The building of the tower began in 1932, and it opened to the public in 1934 to commemorate its founder and the first president of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission.

Perkins Memorial Tower also features a set of windows with panoramic photos underneath it, classifying each peak.

Exterior of the Perkins Memorial Tower
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It has viewing benches and telescopes, allowing visitors to capture panoramic views of the surrounding environment.

Located on Perkins Memorial Dr., the tower is the perfect place for achieving peace of mind while seeing the beauty of nature at the same time.

Aerial view of the Perkins Memorial Tower
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Trek the Suffern Bear Mountain Trail

The Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail journeys over Pyngyp as it edges closer to the park’s northern part and the Bear Mountain State Park.

Once you set foot on this trail and start trekking, spectacular views from Pyngyp Mountain will take your breath away.

The Suffern Bear Mountain Trail is 34.5 kilometers long, kicking off in Stony Point, Rockland County.

It’s a classic north-to-south trail that stretches from Suffern, New York, to Bear Mountain State Park.

Additionally, this trail is an up-and-down, winding, steep, and challenging roller coaster path.

Stay at Bear Mountain Inn

Exterior of Bear Mountain Inn
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What if you can't have enough of the beauty and exciting activities in Bear Mountain?

Then, spend a few days or nights at the historic and gorgeous Bear Mountain Inn, built in 1915 on an elevated plain overlooking Hessian Lake.

Built with local stone and timber, this exquisite inn is a national treasure with 15 deluxe guestrooms and suites.

Entrance doors of Bear Mountain Inn
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Located on Tomkins Cove, it combines an idyllic mountainside style with all the coziness of a home, making it the ideal romantic Hudson Valley destination.

After exploring some of the most interesting historical places in New York, relax and get pampered at the Spa at Bear Mountain.

The magazine American Architect declared Bear Mountain Inn one of the “finest examples of rustic Adirondack architecture in America” since it opened in 1915.

Interior of Bear Mountain Inn
Acroterion, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Study Nature in Iona Island National Estuary

The Iona Island National Estuary provides significant habitats for waterfowl, shorebirds, amphibians, marsh-nesting birds, warblers, eagles, reptiles, spawning fish, and nursery areas.

It is located on Palisades Parkway and is one of the most extensive tidal wetlands adjacent to the Hudson River, with nearly 270 acres of freshwater and saltish cattail marshes.

More than 165 bird species have been spotted on Iona Island, including the bald eagle, cerulean warbler, least bittern, pied-billed grebe, Acadian flycatcher, and more.

The arrow-leaved cattail is where subtidal aquatic beds, non-vegetated tidal flats, and rocky uplands occur.

Moreover, the waterfowl concentration site includes a migratory concentration site, a species-at-risk site, a bird research site, and diverse species concentration site.

You and your family can do other things in the Iona Island National Estuary: biking, hiking, fishing, snowshoeing, camping, ice skating, and boating.

Cross the Bear Mountain Bridge

Daytime view of Bear Mountain Bridge
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The Bear Mountain Bridge is the oldest bridge of the New York State Bridge Authority and was the initial vehicular river crossing between Albany and New York City.

At the same time, it was also the longest suspension bridge worldwide and the first suspended bridge constructed with a concrete deck.

This antique bridge spans 2,255 feet that connect Orange/Rockland and Westchester/Putnam.

The road of Bear Mountain Bridge
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A walkway allows you to cross the bridge on foot and see the vivid colors of fall that surround the historic structure.

Located on Garrison, Bear Mountain Bridge is also called the Purple Heart Veterans Memorial Bridge.

Aerial view of Bear Mountain Bridge
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Play around at Anthony Wayne Recreation Area

Located on Palisades Interstate Pkwy Exit 17, the Anthony Wayne Recreation Area offers hiking, biking, grills, playing fields, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.

This eight-kilometer loop trail is quite a challenging course, taking an average of two hours and 20 minutes to finish.

The loop follows a succession of trails, including the Appalachian Trail, Timp-Torne, Horn Hill, and Suffern-Bear Mountain.

Celebrated events held in the Anthony Wayne Recreation Area include Bear Mountain Car Cruise, Native American Celebration, and Oktoberfest.

You can bring your dog along, but it must constantly be on a leash.

Catch Nice Fish at Hessian Lake

The waters of Hessian Lake
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Situated on Seven Lakes Drive in Bear Mountain, Hessian Lake provides anglers the advantage of hauling good-sized largemouth bass, panfish, and brown trout.

Every year, 800 yearlings and 100 two-year-old brown trout are released into the lake.

Other fish species that you can catch include bullhead, pumpkinseed, redbreast sunfish, rock bass, and bluegill.

You can rent a boat not powered by a gas motor, and you’ll need a boat permit from the Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC).

Bench overlooking the waters of Hessian Lake
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The historic lake is spring-fed and got its name from the 1777 bloody British attack on Fort Clinton, where several Hessian chasseurs or soldiers fell into it.

The management prohibits swimming in Hessian Lake because it drains continuously, creating a pull from the bottom.

Some people believe that ghosts of the Hessian soldiers pull people to the bottom that cause them to drown.

Picnic beside Hessian Lake
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Enjoy Ice Bear Mountain Ice Rink

The Bear Mountain Ice Rink is an outdoor rink usually open from November to March when the weather permits.

It holds public skating sessions weekly, providing skating lessons for wannabe skaters.

While children four years of age and under are free to skate, five years old and above must pay an admission fee whether they slide.

Bear Mountain Ice Rink provides great family skating time and hosts several local hockey teams.

Located on Seven Lakes Drive in Tomkins Cove, New York, rangers also use it as a Learn to Play venue.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Bear Mountain is a great place to visit and stay for the whole family.

However, if you want new activities and adventures, try visiting adjacent towns and counties to experience their life and culture.

Visit the Historic Fort Montgomery Museum

Exterior of the Fort Montgomery Museum
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Whether you’re a historian or not, the  Revolutionary War clash in 1777 over the control of the Hudson River in Fort Montgomery will surely interest you.

Located on Route 9W Fort Montgomery, New York, visitors can explore the 14-acre fortification on a cliff with a view of the majestic Hudson River.

You’ll learn about this invaluable military post at the Fort Montgomery Museum, displaying original artifacts, weaponry, and huge-scale models of the stronghold and the attack.

There are also highly sophisticated mannequins posing for battle and an action-packed 15-minute movie about the skirmish.

Learn history at Fort Montgomery Museum with the living history exhibition of musketry, artillery, music, and camp life activities.

The museum is only three minutes away from Bear Mountain.

Spend Family Day at the Harriman State Park

The waters of Harriman State Park
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Situated along Seven Lakes Drive in Sloatsburg, New York, Harriman State Park is the second largest park in the park’s system.

It features 31 lakes and reservoirs, 200 miles of hiking trails, two public camping areas, and two beaches.

Moreover, it has two beaches, a network of group camps, various wildlife species, miles of streams, and panoramic roads, including vistas and sceneries.

Wooden footbridge at Harriman State Park
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Its chief facilities include Sebago, Beaver Pond Campgrounds, and Tiorati and Silvermine.

You can bring your dog along, provided it’s always on a leash and displays a rabies tag.

Harriman State Park is the second largest state park in New York, spanning 47,527 acres, and is a 22-minute drive from Bear Mountain.

A brook at Harriman State Park
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Discover Exciting Activities at Lake Welch Beach

Sunny day at Lake Welch Beach
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Lake Welch Beach is an artificial sandy beach and is the largest one in Harriman State Park.

It was once a tiny body of water surrounded by farmland on the edges and later became the present-day lake because of a dam constructed in 1942.

You and the family can enjoy swimming, picnicking, boating, fishing, camping, and hiking at the nearby Beaver Pond Campground.

Aerial view of Lake Welch Beach
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You’ll also love winter activities such as ice fishing and snowmobiling.

Located on Kanawaukee Road in Stony Point, New York, Lake Welch Beach is 19 minutes from Bear Mountain.

Learn History at Stony Point Battlefield Historic Site

Lighthouse at Stony Point Battlefield Historic Site
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The Stony Point Battlefield Historic Site is one of the last Revolutionary War battlefields in the eastern colonies.

It’s where Brigadier General Anthony Wayne commanded his battalion of Continental Light Infantry in a fearless midnight attack on the British as they tried to capture the site’s defenses.

On July 16, 1779, they took the soldiers and camp followers at the British fort, turning them into prisoners of war (POW).

On the battlefield, the site is where you’ll also see the remarkable Stony Point Lighthouse built in 1826, the earliest lighthouse on the Hudson River.

Entrance to Stony Point Battlefield Historic Site
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The magnificent lighthouse now serves as an honored memento of the significance of lighthouses to transporting merchandise on the Hudson River.

The site features a museum, offering expos on the battle and the lighthouse, interpretive programs including reenactments emphasizing 18th-century military life, and cannon and musket firing.

Located on Battlefield Road, the Stony Point Battlefield is only a 15-minute drive from Bear Mountain.

Museum at Stony Point Battlefield Historic Site
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Get Fishing at the Lake Tiorati Beach

The waters of Lake Tiorati Beach
Airtuna08 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Lake Tiorati Beach is one of the seven major lakes within Harriman State Park.

It got its name “Tiorati,” meaning “Blue-like Sky,” from the Algonquin word for “sky-like.”

It’s an artificial lake formed from dredging swampland and the construction of a concrete dam.

You can swim, launch your boat, and fish in Lake Tiorati Beach for largemouth bass, bluegills, yellow perch, and many more.

Situated in Southfields, the lake is only nine minutes away from Bear Mountain.

Final Thoughts

Are you looking for a fantastic holiday getaway with friends or family?

You don’t have to look further because Bear Mountain is the best place to go.

Get ready for a new adventure and experience the fun things to do in Bear Mountain, New York!

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