Combining several trails to create this circuit, the hiker is rewarded with many mountain and river vistas, walking a historic trail and seeing some of New York's finest mountain laurel and dogwood. Beginning from the south side of Bear Mountain Inn, head west to reach the red-blazed Major Welch Trail. The trail is easy and paved while it skirts the shores of Hessian Lake. This shady path offers a nice overlook of the lake. Once you reach the north end of the trail, bear left to ascend the northern slope of Bear Mountain. The trail inclines sharply along a rocky path as it becomes increasingly difficult . Soon you'll be rewarded with mountain laurel lining your path and even clinging between large granite ridges which evolve into your pathway. Beautiful vistas of the Hudson River are premium. Cross over Perkins Drive and continue your ascent to reach a shady picnic grove. Sights of the 1930's Perkins Tower are offered by heading right. Following the red blazes, you'll descend the granite ridges southeast of Perkins Tower. This stretch of trail offers some of the finest continuous vistas along this 9.7 mile loop trail. At 3 miles, you will have reached the white-blazed Appalachian Trail which hugs the road's shoulder for the next half mile. Follow the signs into a mixed hardwood forest. At 3.8 miles the trail offers an overlook to West Mountain which is your next summit destination. From here, the trail drops sharply crossing over Seven Lakes Drive then following the 1777 Trail for a mere .1 mile. Note: The 1777 Trail was once traveled by the British soldiers during the Revolutionary War when they secured two American forts along the Hudson River. Next, follow the white blazes on the AT signs as you bear right at the pine plantation, following an abandoned road then heading back into the woods, all in less than .5 mile. Once back in the woods, the trail ascends sharply to reach West Mountain which offers more wonderful vistas and a resting area. Upon leaving the summit, follow the blue-blazed Timp-Torne Trail which offers even more beautiful views as it weaves up and down along the granite ridges. Shortly you'll be rewarded with panoramic views of Black Mountain, West Mountain, Bear Mountain and the Hudson River. Reaching the 6 mile point, bear left to overlap with the yellow-blazed Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail. When the trail reaches 6.3 miles, the two trails split; be sure to follow the yellow-blazes which carry you back to the Bear Mountain Inn over the next 3.4 miles. On your return route, you'll continue to follow the rolling terrain experiencing varying woods ranging from mountain laurel to tulip trees to stands of maple and oak. You'll also have to rock-hop Doodletown Brook, take several steps onto the historic 1777 Trail, cross over Seven Lakes Drive and overlap with the white-blazed AT. The trail ends at 9.7 miles at Hessian Lake and Bear Mountain Inn.
Directions: From Bear Mountain Toll Bridge, NY, Travel over the Hudson River and head south along US 9W for less than half mile. Turn right into the Bear Mountain Inn (parking fee). Hike to the south side of the Inn and head west to reach the red-blazed Major Welch Trail.
Elevation: 1,305 feet
Elevation Gain: 1,100 feet
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Bear Mountain State Park, New York
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