We tend to have to drive a lot to New York City / Long Island from Rochester to see my family. It’s not fun, and especially tantalizing always coming through the Poconos or Catskills or Harriman on the way down. In order to break up the monotony and make the trip more worthwhile, I’ve committed to making a stop somewhere halfway and hiking for a few hours. Incredibly, in my entire life despite living very close by, I’d never hiked the famous Bear Mountain. It is located on the West side of the Hudson River, just south of West Point, and close to a couple of amazing breweries (Industrial Arts nearby on the same side, and Hudson Valley over in Beacon on the other side). On this day, it was pouring raining the entire car ride, so by the time I pulled into the park, it was pretty empty. The park reminds me a bit of Letchworth, with just tons of old 1930s stone work obviously done by the CCC crews. The park seems like a great place to hang, and there is a nice little lake down there too, overlooking a cable suspension bridge over the Hudson, and sitting beneath Bear. On this day, I decided to hike a little down the lake, and then wanted a challenge, so picked a steep section and bushwhacked straight up the face to the summit. Once again, an auto road goes to the top (more on this in another post). Incredibly, and I am still stunned by this, not only was the road closed, but I did not see a single hiker the entire time I was hiking, resting and enjoying the top, and most of the way down. The views of the river were great, and the big, flat summit had tons and tons of nooks and great viewing areas. The tower was closed on this day, I would have loved to see if I could see the Tappan Zee and Manhattan, because the angle of the mountain and bend of river doesn’t permit that view from the trail or summit. Took the traditional AT on the way down, and I can’t describe it to you – they literally made stone staircases the entire way. If you want a pleasant walk up an incredible mountain near a major metro area, that is certainly something you would want to consider. From the way I went it was a pretty steep climb up, and I think from the other trails it is pretty steep too. Still doable for kids, but they’ll be huffing. All in all, highly recommended, especially if the time you have is tight.