New York City Hikes
|View of the Hudson River from Black Mountain on the Appalachian Trail. (Photo © Skip Card)|
This long, grueling, but extremely beautiful section of the Appalachian Trail will test hikers strength and stamina. In exchange, the path offers exceptional mountaintop scenery. If you can wipe the sweat out of your eyes, youll love the view.
From Bear Mountain Inn, follow the wide sidewalk past the inn and pick up the Appalachian Trail (long white blazes) near Hessian Lake where it meets the terminus of both the Cornell Mine (blue) and Major Welch (red) Trails. Also present is the SuffernBear Mountain Trail (yellow), which runs aligned with the AT for the first .6 mile. Follow the path uphill, where the pavement slowly disintegrates into a wide trail. The path gets steeper and rockier as you work up the forested hillside. After one mile, the AT joins a paved road, which leads past a view of the Hudson River. After .3 mile of pavement, turn left to resume the steep uphill ascent. The trail crosses several roads near the summit picnic area before emerging onto bedrock lumps a stones throw from Bear Mountains Perkins Tower. Drink in the dramatic vista, 1,305 feet above the river, then begin your descent.
The AT crosses the parking lot and descends steeply for .6 mile along a trail that toggles between dense woods and bare bedrock. Turn left when the trail reaches Perkins Drive and walk downhill along the shoulder .5 mile before turning right to return to shaded woods. After an undulating .5 mile, cross Seven Lakes Drive. Stay with the AT past the 1777 West (red) and Fawn (red) Trails and begin the steep, thigh-frying trudge up West Mountain. Views of Bear Mountain (and beyond) appear just before you reach West Mountains long summit ridge and a junction with the Timp-Torne Trail (blue). By now, youve covered 4.3 miles.
Turn left and follow white and blue blazes as the AT and T-T together head south along the rocky crest past several eye-popping viewpoints. After .7 mile, Timp-Torne heads left, reaching West Mountain Shelter in another .6 mile. Veer right at the junction and follow the AT steeply downhill past several woods roads and bike paths. Just beyond babbling Beechy Bottom Brook, the AT picks up the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail (red dot atop white), and the two paths run in tandem for the next three miles.
Carefully dash across the busy Palisades Interstate Parkway (trail register located in the median between the four lanes) and begin ascending Black Mountain. The grade grows steeper past a junction with the 1779 Trail (blue), and some scrambling may be required before you near the 1,205-foot summit and its wide view of the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline. By now, youve gone 6.7 miles. Descending, the AT passes one more viewpoint before crossing the woods road leading to Silvermine Lake.
Ascend again, this time up broad Letterrock Mountain. A generally uphill course leads over a rocky hill above the William Brien Memorial Shelter and a junction with the Menomine Trail (yellow). Continue .8 mile through oak forest carpeted in lush undergrowth to a junction where the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail splits left.
The AT veers right at the junction, and 1.2 miles later crosses Seven Lakes Drive. Past a small stream, the trail heads steeply up the side of Stockbridge Mountain, then curls south through the trees. After one final dip and rise, the trail leads to Arden Valley Road, .3 mile from Tiorati Circle.
Backpackers on this section of the AT can sleep at the West Mountain Shelter, which accommodates eight, or the William Brien Memorial Shelter, with bunks for four. Springs at both sites can go dry in late summer, so refill water bottles at streams before your arrival.
To reach Bear Mountain Inn, cross the George Washington Bridge and take the first exit onto the Palisades Interstate Parkway. Follow the parkway north to its end near the Bear Mountain Bridge traffic circle. Curl right onto Route 9W/Route 202, heading south. Turn right at the first traffic light, following signs to Bear Mountain. Coach USAs Short Line buses provide daily service to Bear Mountain Inn via Route 9W. For details, call 800/631-8405, www.shortlinebus.com.
To reach the southern end of the trail near Tiorati Circle, follow the Palisades Interstate Parkway past the Anthony Wayne Recreation Area and veer left onto Route 6 toward Harriman. In .3 mile, the road reaches the Long Mountain Circle. Curl around to the left onto Seven Lakes Drive. Head west 3.7 miles to the Tiorati Circle. Parking is available in the nearby picnic area on Lake Tiorati. Walk .3 mile along Arden Valley Road to reach the Appalachian Trail.
Information and Contact
There are no hiking fees. Parking at Bear Mountain Inn costs $6. Dogs must be leashed. Bikes are not allowed on the Appalachian Trail. Trails are shown on Map 3 of the Appalachian Trail Guide to New YorkNew Jersey. The AT and its intersecting side trails also are shown on Map 4 of the Harriman/Bear Mountain Trails series produced by the New YorkNew Jersey Trail Conference. For more information, contact the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, P.O. Box 807, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425, 304/535-6331, www.appalachiantrail.org.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication