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Bear Mountain

Updated: Jul 18, 2020

I wanted to climb Bear Mountain again after the section hike with J-Dub. The views for us were all clouded in then and I knew the area was a popular spot because of it’s vistas.I recruited my friend Ranger Rick and we set out to on a crisp fall day from Manitou Station.

View toward Bear Mountain and Anthony's Nose in the Hudson Valley through the brown, reedy, marsh by Manitou Metro North Station. The mountains loom dark green on a sunny day and some autumn colors are in the trees.
Through the marsh at Manitou Station

Rather than linking up to the AT at the small, Manitou Road crossing like we did for Anthony’s Nose, Rick and I decided to try the road walk down Route 9D. While this is what many people say to do, I wouldn’t recommend it. It was a busy road with narrow, and at points no, shoulder and many of the people driving the day we went out were leaf peepers zooming around the curvy mountain road.

I’d much rather navigate the back roads and spend some extra AT miles!

Bear Mountain Bridge, a gray suspension Bridge, runs over the Hudson River. The view on this sunny day looks toward the dark green of Bear Mountain with some autumn colors mixed into the green.
Bear Mountain Bridge

Bear Mountain bridge was a blustery, cold crossing though the views up and down the river made up for the chill a bit.

We followed the AT through the Bear Mountain Zoo and around Hessian Lake then took it up for our Bear Mountain climb.

Stone stairs surrounded by trees yellows, oranges, and reds in their leaves. A lone white man in a dark outfit climbs up the stairs.
Ranger Rick climbing stairs toward Hessian Lake

It was nice doing this on a clear day! Even though the vistas on the way up were usually crowded with other hikers and tourists (Fall in the Hudson Valley afterall!) there were a lot of great quick views between tree breaks that made the whole trek up lovely.

View through trees with mostly green but a few pops of vibrant orange on the trail up Bear Mountain in New York's Hudson Valley.
Autumn view on the climb up Bear Mountain

Unlike when I tackled this in section-hiker mode with J-Dub, Ranger Rick and I took our time up making a snack stop and pausing to take photos at over looks.

The summit of Bear Mountain was really something, not only was clear enough to see the New York City skyline, but we had an unfettered view of much of the Hudson Valley up and down the river!

Sunny view off Bear Mountain's summit. Low clouds toss shadows throughout the valley and create patches of light and dark green on the mountain range in the Hudson Valley vista.
Sunny view off Bear Mountain's summit.

We took the Major Welch Trail down to switch it up and it wasn’t what I expected. While going down wasn’t too difficult, we just need to take our time, going up the Major Welch would be a real beast! There are some serious rock scrambles that had a lot of people turning around and heading back who weren’t prepared. So take the signs seriously!

Brown sign on a tree marking the start of the Major Welch Trail on Bear Mountain. In the background the rocky trail can be seen leading down the mountain.
Major Welch Trailhead

Only head up this trail if you’re ready to do some hard hiking!

Major Welch ends at a tranquil side of Hessian Lake, away from the more touristy, picnic area.

Hessian Lake at the base of Bear Mountain in the Hudson Valley. The deep blue water of the lake is surrounded by trees with green, red, yellow, and orange leaves in early autumn.
Hessian Lake

Ranger Rick and I took a little lunch break here before heading back over Bear Mountain Bridge and up the Appalachian Trail to Manitou.

Bear Mountain Bridge from Hessian Lake. Gray top of the suspension bridge peaks above trees of yellows, orange, and mostly green. The shot is frame by branches and trunks of trees.
Bear Mountain Bridge from Hessian Lake

The day ending climb back up the AT to the Anthony’s Nose turn was difficult, especially after all the mileage we’d put in, but it was definitely worth it not to deal with the road walk again.

All in all, Ranger Rick’s phone tracked that it was a 12.5 mile day in and out for us! I definitely felt it as I was dozing in and out of sleep on the train ride back into the city.


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