Harriman State Park and Bear Mountain State Park, New York
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 Harriman Bear Mountain Trails Maps 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.
The Harriman Traverse — Feeling ambitious? Take two-three days and cross the entire park. From the bus stop at Bear Mountain, pick your way down to Tuxedo Station, a town abutting the south western edge of the park. From there, take a Metro-North train back to NYC. Directions below.
Getting to Harriman State Park and Bear Mountain State Park
If driving, take the scenic Palisades Interstate Parkway at its start, just north of the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge. From there it’s a pleasant 30 minute drive north to the center of the park. If driving from Queens, Westchester or the Bronx, consider taking the Taconic State Parkway north to Route 35 where you’ll see signage after about twenty minutes for the town of Peekskill. Once in town, follow signage for Route 6 west, where you’ll cross the Hudson River and immediately see signs for Harriman State Park and Bear Mountain State Park. If you decide to park at the base of Bear Mountain, expect a parking fee. However, you’ll find free roadside parking throughout the park when sanctioned with a parking sign.
If planning to visit Harriman via mass transit you’ve got two convenient options. Both bus and train lines service entrances to the park. But, you’ll have to choose one or the other depending on where in the park you plan to visit. To access the eastern section of Harriman State Park take the Short Line Commuter Bus from the Port Authority. Routes 781, 783, 785, 787 and 789 all serve Bear Mountain. If looking to explore the western section of the park, take the Metro-North train to Tuxedo Station, via the Port Jervis line. From the station it’s a quick 20 minute walk through town to the edge of the park. It’s important to note that when on the train, you’ll have to take the transfer at Seacaucus Junction for your connection to Tuxedo—the conductors aren’t likely to remind you.