7+ Bear Mountain Activities:
How you can have an Amazing Day
My kids and I decided to do some exploring. I suggested that we check out the local state park because I knew it from my childhood and was certain that Bear Mountain activities were abundant and fun.
Needless to say that agreeing on something is never easy with two teenagers. More so when one is a boy and one is a girl.
They enjoy being outside but are not keen on strenuous activities.
Is it just me or does this generation prefer it easy???
Getting out the door went rather smoothly and we headed to Bear Mountain State Park to check out the activities there.
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Hours: 8 am – sunset
PARKING FEE: (as of the date of this published post)
$10 parking only fee
> Apr through mid-Jun: weekends & holidays (8 am – 4 pm)
> Mid-Jun through the beginning of Sep: weekends & holidays (8 am – 5 pm)
Weekdays (8 am – 4 pm)
> Sep through the end of Mar: weekend & holidays (8 am – 5 pm)
Pool and other activities have an additional fee (see below)
Essentials you need for any Hudson Valley Outing:
Personalized Hudson Valley Directory
Personalized Hudson Valley T-shirts
101+ Things to do in the HV for $10 or less
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Visiting Bear Mountain State Park:
Things to Know Before Participating in Bear Mountain Activities:
- Open year-round, the most popular time for visitors is during warmer months, especially on the weekends.
- Access to the state park can be found off of Route 9W and the Palisades Parkway.
- Although the state park is free to explore, there is a parking fee charged (see below)
- For your convenience, the website offers several PDF maps for you to download prior to your visit.
Where is Bear Mountain State Park?
Located on over 5,000 between Rockland and Orange counties, Bear Mountain State Park is probably the best known state park in New York.
With so much history in this one area of the Hudson Valley, it’s no wonder that this state park is a favorite for thousands of visitors each year.
Rising from the west side of the Hudson River, this location is a favorite for hikers and general sight-seers who marvel at the views of the nearby Bear Mountain Bridge and the Hudson River Valley.
3006 Seven Lakes Drive
Bear Mountain, NY
Bear Mountain Directions
Here are some simple Bear Mountain directions to follow. Located off of Route 9W and the Palisades Parkway, Bear Mountain State Park and the Bear Mountain activities are easily accessible by car.
The main entrance to Bear Mountain State Park is from Seven Lakes Drive, off of Route 9W. It is also a short distance from the Bear Mountain State Circle.
How far is Bear Mountain State Park from NYC?
The driving distance from Manhattan to Bear Mountain State Park is approximately 40-50 miles and can take approximately 1 hour.
What are some Bear Mountain Activities?
With so many activities at Bear Mountain, it may be difficult to choose just a few. You may need to plan accordingly if you’d like to do and see more than one or two things.
A few visits to the park in order to experience many of the Bear Mountain activities may be in order.
Bear Mountain Activities you Can Do During ANY Season:
#1: Trailside Museums & Zoo
The Trailside Zoo is open year-round. For a suggested donation of $1, you can stroll this small yet very educational zoo.
First, this zoo houses animals that have been injured and are being rehabilitated. It was so interesting to see the nice variety of animals being helped here.
Some animals included: bears, coyotes, owls, bald eagles, beavers, etc.
The most popular attraction, though, at the zoo is the bear den. Crowds stand in front of the exhibit and admire these impressive creatures.
Interesting fact: The Appalachian hiking trail runs through the Trailside Zoo. At any given point, you can see hikers making their way along the Appalachian. This is the reason that “Trailside” got its name.
My son happily pointed out a few young hikers during our visit. He was impressed by their packs but also noted that it looked like they hadn’t bathed in some time. lol
There are also four museums at Trailside Museums and Zoo.
- Herpetology Museum – Home to turtles, fish, frogs, snakes and more.
- Nature Study Museum – Home to specimens originally from the Museum of Natural History
- Geology Museum – Offers information on local geology and the Hudson Highlands.
- History Museum – Information about colonial and Native American history.
There is also a statue of Walt Whitman at the Trailside Museums & Zoo.
Daily from 10 am – 4:30 pm; Bears leave exhibit at 4 pm
Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day
Suggested donation $1 p/p
#2: Various Hiking & Walking Trails
The Bear Mountain hiking region is extensive and impressive. With over 50 trails covering more than 200 acres, you are sure to find one that you can enjoy. This makes the perfect outing for everyone, even children.
For your convenience, you can download the Bear Mountain trail map and plan your hike before your visit.
There is another download that offers information on Bear Mountain suggested hikes in the state park with descriptions and highlights. The PDF document that you can download and take with you is filled with photos and a small map showing exactly where each of these suggested hikes are located.
#3: Watch & Discover Wildlife
Whether it’s a hobby or just an interest of yours, watching the wildlife at the state park is another favorite of the Bear Mountain activities.
Whether is bird watching, squirrel watching or chipmunk watching, Bear Mountain offers vast open space for animals native to the area to roam and frolic without stress.
#4: Bear Mountain Carousel
Weekdays & Weekends 6/26 – 9/7
Enjoy a spin on the famous Merry-Go-Round.
It is a beautiful display of 42 hand-carved seats, each depicting an animal native to the area. The scenes are hand-painted and are a true work of art.
The Bear Mountain Carousel is a favorite for many visitors to the state park.
Wed through Sun (during summer months)
Weekends & Holidays (remainder of year)
There is an admission fee charged.
#5: Have a Picnic during any season
I’m not gonna lie… I visited Bear Mountain during the winter and saw a group of people with a portable fire pit having a picnic. They were bundled up but seemed to be enjoying themselves.
That proved to me that a you CAN do a picnic outside during any season, but it’s your personal preference if you do.
During the warmer months, Bear Mountain State Park is a popular place for family picnics and outdoor gatherings.
#6: Visit the Bear Mountain Inn
Restaurant, Cafe & Spa are currently OPEN
Whether it’s for an overnight stay, a quick bite at the hiker’s cafe, dinner at Restaurant 1915 or Sunday brunch, a visit to the Bear Mountain Inn is in order.
Restaurant 1915 & the Blue Roof Bar are open to the public every day of the week. With spectacular views of the park and lake, this dining experience is unique in every way.
Hiker’s Cafe is located on the first floor of the Bear Mountain Inn and is a great place for a quick snack, soda, water, hot cocoa or ice cream.
If you’re interested in staying at Bear Mountain overnight, your choices include:
- The Inn – 15 guestrooms ready to accommodate guests
- Overlook Lodge – 24 guestrooms with some available guests with pets
- Stone Cottages – a series of 4 cottages, each with 6 individual rooms and a common area.
Recently, the Bear Mountain Inn was used to film a Stephen King series. How cool is that?!?
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Seasonal Bear Mountain Activities:
Enjoy Warm Weather Activities
With the abundance of outdoor space, there is no shortage of warm weather activities to enjoy. In addition to the great activities mentioned above, during the warmer months there are many more Bear Mountain activities that you can participate in.
#1: Enjoy Some Time on or near the Water
With Lake Hessian as the centerpiece in a visit to Bear Mountain State Park, it is hard not to include some water fun as the one of the top Bear Mountain activities to do during warmer months.
Below is just a sampling of the activities offered:
- Row Boat rentals – 11 am – 5 pm (weekdays) 11 am – 6 pm (weekends). Inquire at the Bear Mountain Inn
- Paddleboat rentals – $10 per person/hour on Hessian Lake.
- Fishing (river & lake)
- Sitting and enjoying the lake views
#2: Drive up Perkins Memorial Drive & Tower
Perkins Memorial Drive & Tower are open from April through late November (weather permitting).
This has to be one of the highlights of a visit to Bear Mountain State Park. You can either hike to the top (which I only recommend to the experienced hiker) or drive up.
Whichever way you choose to get to the Perkins Memorial Tower, make sure to have your camera ready and/or your phone charged because the views are amazing.
As one of the favorite Bear Mountain activities, the parking lot will get full on the weekends.
So, if you can, take a drive up during the week and enjoy views of the Hudson Valley, Hudson River, & Bear Mountain Bridge, as well as, the NYC Skyline and four states in total.
#3: Participate in Outdoor Sports and the Outdoor Space
The grand, safe outdoor space is the main reason why so many people flock to this popular state park during the warmer months.
Some popular outdoor sports and warmer weather Bear Mountain activities include:
- Walking and Hiking
- Running and Jogging
- Use of the playing fields, including volleyball and basketball
- Use of the playground
#4: Visit the Iona Island/Doodletown Bird Conservation Area
See a bald eagle and so much more at the Iona Island National Estuary. The area includes one of the largest tidal wetlands in the Hudson River.
Located within the Bear Mountain State Parks and Harriman State Park, this area is important because it is home to endangered species and serves as a protected area where they can thrive.
Can you believe that over 165 bird species have been observed within the Iona Island/Doodletown BCA?
Make sure to visit and see how many you can view in this wonderful area. Download a copy of a map of the Bird Conservation Area here.
#5: Bear Mountain Swimming Pool
The Bear Mountain swimming pool season from late June through the beginning of September.
Hundreds enjoy swimming and splashing at the Bear Mountain Swimming Pool. Open during the summer season, this is a popular destination for many looking to cool off.
Currently OPEN for the Season
HOURS: (6/26 – 9/7)
Weekdays: 10 am – 5:30 pm
Weekends: 11 am – 6:30 pm
Holidays: 10am – 6:30pm
$5 per person
#6: Attend a Festival at the Anthony Wayne Recreation Area
Festivals cancelled for 2020
Popular events that have taken place at the Anthony Wayne Recreation Area include Oktoberfest and Native American Pow-Wow. Unfortunately, these festivals were cancelled in 2020.
I will update this section, as soon as plans are made for special events in the future.
Enjoy Cold Weather Activities:
#1: Bear Mountain Ice Rink
The Bear Mountain outdoor ice skating rink is generally open seasonally from late October through March (weather permitting).
The ice rink holds public skating sessions several times a week. At the time of this post, skating days were: Mon & Tues (morning and afternoon), Fri (evening), Sat & Sun (most of the day). Check their website or exact information.
You can bring your own skates or rent some.
An admission fee is charged whether you skate or not. The rink is outdoors and is not covered, so please dress warmly.
Adult Skaters (12 yrs and up): $5 Skating fee, $5 skate rental
Child Skaters: (4 yrs – 11 yrs): $4 Skating fee, $5 skate rental
Children ages 4 yrs and under: Free
#2: Participate in Other Outdoor Sports
In addition to ice skating, cold weather Bear Mountain activities are plentiful.
Some popular cold weather activities include:
- Cross Country Skiing
Can you drive to the top of Bear Mountain?
A visit to the Perkins Tower by taking the Perkins Memorial Drive is the only way to drive to the summit.
It’s approximately 1,300 feet above sea level and is also approximately two miles up from the beginning of the drive.
I’ve heard that the views from the top are outstanding. I haven’t personally gone up yet, but plan to do so very soon, so stay tuned!
MORE THINGS TO DO NEAR BEAR MOUNTAIN STATE PARK:
- 10+ MUST-SEE THINGS IN ROCKLAND COUNTY, NY
- A FUN VISIT TO THE PALISADES CENTER MALL
- DISCOVER THE WEST POINT MUSEUM AND VISITORS CENTER
Tips for an Amazing Visit to Bear Mountain State Park:
- There is plenty of space to explore at the Bear Mountain State Park, so plan to spend a few hours there during your visit.
- Bear Mountain State Park sees more visitors on the weekends than during the week and during the warmer weather months.
- Although open during the week, many activities are not open or offered. Check their website for updated information.
- There is a parking fee, on some weekends/days, regardless of the activity(ies)you plan to do that day
- See above for specific days when the parking fees are in effect.
- Come prepared for any type of weather. The weather may change quickly and you may be parked far from your location.
Are dogs allowed at Bear Mountain State Park?
Yes, dogs are allowed. They must be on a leash not more than 6 feet. Not allowed in buildings, picnic areas, bathing areas, on walkways or in the Trailside Museum and Wildlife Center.
Is the Trailside Zoo open year-round?
Yes, it is. Check their website for specific hours.
Is a parking fee charged all the time?
The $10 parking fee is Collected:
4/1-6/16 (Weekends & Holidays 8:00-4:00 PM)
6/22-9/2 (Weekends & Holidays 8:00-5:00 PM / Weekdays 8:00-4:00 PM)
9/7-3/31 (Weekends & Holidays 8:00-5:00 PM)
Until the Next Adventure…
Jackie is one of the top bloggers in the Hudson Valley. She has been featured (along with some of her photos) in several local and national publications. Read Jackie’s crazy story, “From a Naive NYC Girl to Popular Hudson Valley Blogger & Author“. Feel free to send Jackie a message here.