Bear Mountain–Harriman State Park, located 50 miles north of the city and west of the Hudson, has 235 miles of marked trails traversing 52,000 wooded mountain acres, and is accessible by car, train, and bus at several starting points. The suggested 4-mile hike up 1,300-foot Bear Mountain serves as a good introduction to this vast wilderness. If you’re arriving by train, add another 4 miles for the scenic route along the Appalachian Trail and across the Bear Mountain Bridge. Canoes, paddleboats, and rowboats can be rented at Hessian Lake in Bear Mountain State Park. Bear Mountain–Harriman State Park got its start in 1910 with a 10,000-acre donation to the state by railroad baron Edward H. Harriman and his wife, Mary A. Harriman. Subsequent additions brought the total to 52,000 acres, creating one of the greatest natural resources to be enjoyed so close to any major city. The park straddles Rockland and Orange Counties on the west side of the Hudson, all within New York State beginning just north of the New Jersey boundary. The northeast–southwest Appalachian Mountain ridges run through the park, and the Hudson Highlands are at their most dramatic on either side of the Hudson at the Bear Mountain Bridge. The Hudson River falls here to its maximum depth between New York and Albany, more than 300 feet. The state park is contiguous at the north end to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Getting to Bear Mountain is an integral part of the outing. It’s best by train for the walk up to and across the Bear Mountain Bridge, or by car for the variety of approach routes.
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