Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bear Mountain

We had a hard winter here in New England...I know I've talked about it a lot...but for someone who loves to bike, run and hike, its been especially brutal.

One of my favorite places over the past few years has become Bear Mountain, New York.  Today I wanted to take a moment to share it with you.

Of course, you can climb Bear Mountain.  Its a pretty steady climb, but not a huge mountain.  There are lots of train options, some more challenging then others.  My husband and I go up the steep side and down the less steep side.  There is one part that scares the heck out of me.   You use a chain to hold onto the mountain to pull yourself up OR you can try to push your center of gravity forward and hold onto a crack in the rock.  I've never tried coming down this part, which is why we always go down the side without rock faces.

The view from the top is beautiful.  There is a tower on the top.  It has about 100 stairs which aren't so easy to climb after you've done the mountain :)  However, there are visual guides so you know what you are seeing.  My favorite thing is that you can see the Manhattan skyline from the top of the mountain.  Its so close and yet so far.

The mountain does have an auto road so if you go mid day in the summer months there will be lots of motorcycles and cars up on the top.  However, go later int he day or early in the morning for a quiet and breathtaking picnic lunch.

The AT goes over Bear Mountain, so you can follow the iconic white blazes if you plan out your route correctly.  If you time your trip right you will also meet some through hikers.

There are lots of trails that go part of the way up the mountain, around the mountain etc.  The park is HUGE.  And although the top is wonderful, there are some really cool features to the park itself.

In the winter there is a skating rink.  In the summer, the carousel is open, there is an ice cream snack bar and on the small pond that is there, you can rent paddle boats.
The grounds are expansive and there are always lots of people having a picnic, grilling out (there are picnic tables and grills there for you to use), playing ball, flying kites, and sun bathing.

There are lots of public restrooms and vending machines.  In October they have October fest with beer, music and food.

One of my favorite parts of the park is just across the street.  You cross the road via tunnel and enter a ZOO!  The zoo is actually part of the AT.  So if you walk the whole AT, you have to see the animals.  Its not a huge zoo, but it does have some cool features such as an bald eagle and BEARS!  I could watch the bears for hours.

So, Bear Mountain is fun for the whole family...literally...there is something for everyone.  We usually leave out house very early in the morning and come home at sunset.  Pack lots of food and water and rest up before you go!

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