From City Sidewalks to the Trail- Explore Bear Mountain State Park

By: Jessica Cho + Save to a List

Goodbye City, Hello Mountains!

New York City, usually known for all its hustle and bustle and noise and lights, is a little quieter these days. Getting a little stuffy in that apartment? If you’re a New Yorker and in need of a change of scenery, a trip to Bear Mountain, only about an hour from Midtown, is a great nearby escape that will allow you to take in that much needed fresh air. So, thinking more about planning a trip out to the mountains? I got you covered. But before you hop in the car, stay up to date on the current New York travel advisories to ensure safe and responsible travel.

Photo: Bear Mountain Inn

Bear Mountain Inn and Overlook Lodge

You’re ready to begin your rustic mountain escape and need a place to stay. Situated right in Bear Mountain State Park, the Bear Mountain Inn and Overlook Lodge is the perfect spot. It’s close proximity to all the hiking trails and nearby attractions makes the commute a breeze. It’s also the exact type of atmosphere, in my opinion, to withdraw from city skyscrapers and get into the feel of a true mountain getaway.

You can choose between staying at the inn, the overlook lodge, or in one of the stone cottages. Aside from the lodging, you’ll also have several dining options and spa access. The stone walls, chestnut timber details, and large fireplaces will instill comfort within and spark interest in history that we all tend to fall out of touch with.

Photo: Shaun O'Neill

Anthony’s Nose

While there is no shortage of great hiking and outdoor adventures in the Hudson Valley, if it’s your first time visiting the Bear Mountain area, you’ll want to tryAnthony’s Nose -- a little stretch of the Appalachian Trail. It’s a moderate 2.6 mile hike up-and-back with incredible views overlooking the Hudson River and the Bear Mountain Bridge. The first half mile of the trail will feel like you are ascending a steep, rocky staircase, but once you conquer the relatively short uphill climb, the rest will feel like you’re flying. And when you get to the top, you’ll truly be one with the birds! 

At the summit, you’ll set foot on an open, rocky clearing looking out over a picturesque, panoramic view of the beautiful Hudson Valley. Another feature that I (and many others) love about this overlook is the American flag wedged in the rocks at the top, standing tall while waving in the wind. It’s the perfect backdrop and instagram hotspot for fun photos that proudly scream, “Yep, I just climbed this mountain!”

Photo: Village of Cold Spring

Cold Spring

Once you’ve spent a few hours hiking and burning those calories, you’ll probably be hungry. At least I know I’m always ravenous after a blood-pumping hike. If you’re in the mood to take a quick 30 minute drive from the base of the mountain to a nearby town for a bite to eat or just to do more exploring, I would definitely recommend paying the village of Cold Spring a visit. It’s cute, quaint, and whimsical.

The main town features a strip of restaurants, cafés, and charming boutiques. There’s also an antique shop and an outdoor clothing store called “Old Souls” with plenty of quality brands to choose from (in case you forgot to pack something for your mountain retreat!). 

For lunch, check out the Foundry Cafe for some housemade, hearty sandwiches that really hit the spot. Last time I was in Cold Spring I asked to take my sandwich and dessert to go. I took my post-hike lunch with me through the underground tunnel leading right to the river front- not a bad place for a picnic.

Photo: Storm King Art Center

Storm King Art Center 

Need a little down time but still want to get outside? View some contemporary large-scale sculptures at this open-air museum. It’s about a 20 min drive from Bear Mountain and is located by Storm King Mountain (another great hiking spot) in Mountainville, NY. On this 500-acre property, swap glass cases and corridors for open sky and grassy fields. The exhibits are ever changing with the seasons so you can come back again and again without getting tired of what’s on display. It’s the coming together of art, nature, and community that makes this experience worthwhile

Photo: Jones Farm

Jones Farm

“Baked and grown, just like home!” That’s their motto! Jones Farm is the perfect place for food lovers and shoppers alike to get a taste of the good country life. Located in Cornwall, NY just a 15 minute drive from Bear Mountain, it’s one of the few surviving family farms in the Hudson Valley. Grab some homegrown produce, eggs, honey, and gourmet foods at the country store. 

And you won’t want to leave without stopping into Grandma Phoebe’s Kitchen for some fresh baked goods made entirely from scratch. Chocolate truffle cookies, apple cider doughnuts, and the famous carrot cake...need I say more? You can also enjoy breakfast or lunch at the café while overlooking the farm with Schunemunk Mountain in the distance. 

You thought I was done, but there’s a gift shop as well as a gallery that houses fine art, antique prints, and local photography on the property too. The Farm is open Wednesday-Sunday from 8am to 5pm. Still need convincing? They have miniature horses. I mean, c’mon.

Photo: Trailside Museums and Zoo

Trailside Museum and Zoo

Bring out your inner kid. The Bear Mountain Trailside Museum and Zoo is home to injured and orphaned native animals. Nature, geology, ecology, history, and animal lovers alike will delight in the opportunity to see the native wildlife up close. This includes mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and even fish. 

The experience is self-guided, but you will encounter many small and larger signs that serve as guides and displays of educational stories. Note that while you go from exhibit to exhibit, you’ll be walking on a paved section of the Appalachian Trail. The Zoo is open 4 days a week from 10:30am to 4:00pm. Safe social distancing and mask wearing is required. Jump on the opportunity to connect with wildlife you certainly don’t spot on the daily in the big city.

I grew up in the suburbs an hour north of New York City and have had the luxury of being close to both vibrant urban life and the more rugged, yet serene trails of Bear Mountain. As someone who has had a taste of both scenes, I know what a contrast it is. Switching it up, even for a day, is all you might need to clear your mind and reset. Hopefully, this will not only inspire you to consider a trip to the mountains, but to look around and heighten your general awareness of local treasures. I’ve come to learn that the more you can appreciate local travel and exploration, the more exciting life gets.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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