Just one-hour from downtown manhattan, Harriman State Park and Bear Mountain State Park offer visitors a backcountry experience that is beautiful, surprisingly rugged, and suffused with history.
Photo Credit: NYNJTC
Since its founding over a century ago, Harriman State Park has provided residents of the greater metro area access to wilderness unique in its scale and beauty. The 46, 000 acre park offers hikers, paddlers, birders, bikers and many other outdoor enthusiasts, access to over 30 lakes and ponds, 200+ miles of trail, countless scenic overlooks and a handful of rocky mountain summits. The crown jewel of the area is Bear Mountain, a striking 1300’ mountain that dominates a landscape of rolling tree-topped hills. With its 360-degree views of the Hudson River, New York City and the surrounding Hudson Highlands, Bear Mountain is a popular destination for new hikers as well as more experienced backcountry travelers.
Hike Highlights in Harriman State Park
Hiking in Harriman State Park is a rewarding and, at times, pleasantly challenging experience. The park is criss-crossed with dozens of trails, some of which harken back to the area’s storied past. The 1777 and 1779 trails attempt to retrace the routes of advancing troops during the Revolutionary War. The park also provides a thoroughfare for the 350-mile Long Path and the Appalachian Trail. To accommodate these thru-hikers, the park offers a abundance of overnight options that range from cabins, group camps, lean-tos and campgrounds. While the cabins and group camps limit usage through membership or pricing, the lean-tos and campsites are first come, first served. If planning to spend the night, I’d suggest scoping sites in the quieter southern tier of the park.
Since there are so many paths that cut across the park, it’s hard to suggest particular trails for first time visitors. Instead, we’ll offer a series of destinations that are worth a visit–and leave the route up to you. Before heading out, pick up the NYNJTC map-set online or at Eastern Mountain Sports in Soho, New York City.
Timp and West Mountain — If you’ve taken the bus to Bear Mountain and want to get a bit beyond the crowds, head over to West Mountain and The Timp. You’ll find dramatic views looking across the Hudson and a bit more solitude.
Diamond Mountain — Situated in the southern tier of the park, this mountain and the surrounding area offer some very dramatic views to the south and east. Consider a detour to Pine Meadow Lake and the historic Conklin Cemetery.
Bald Rocks — Centrally located, just north of Little Long Pond, this area provides expansive views, some unique rock outcroppings and a relatively quiet lean-to. The area is also dotted with numerous defunct mines, relics of an earlier era.