There are so many great things about hiking at Bear Mountain; multiple trails to hike (some easier then others,) clean bathrooms, easy parking, well maintained trails, walking trails, a lake, a pool, a gift shop, and even a place to eat. You could easily spend all day at Bear Mountain, whether you are hiking or not. On Memorial and Labor day lots of families show up at 9:00am with picnic supplies and BBQ supplies in hand and they stay all day.
Today, I’m sharing one of our favorite hikes and it’s definitely on the more difficult side. This particular hike includes hiking up Major Welch Trail and down the Appalachian Trail. The Major Welch Trail is not good for families or strollers. However, lots of families hike up the Appalachian trail and some with strollers, but be prepared to carry that stroller at times.
WHEN TO VISIT
The park fills up fast on the weekends. Visiting any day during the week is great, but if you go on the weekend, make sure to go early. When we visit we almost always arrive by 8:30am or 9:00am. The park and parking areas fill up fast, easily by 12:00pm. Bear Mountain is close enough to NYC and is surrounded by multiple communities that it can get very busy. If you’re visiting in the summer visiting early in the morning is great too, because it will be cooler. Bear Mountain gets very hot and humid.
WHERE TO PARK
If you arrive early enough on a weekend and any time during the week there is parking at Bear Mountain Inn. It’s $10 to park during peak season, which is May through October. If you arrive later in the day it’s likely that the parking lot will be full. There is also a possibility that if the park get’s too full they will close the parking area and the roads that lead to the Inn. This has happened to us before, so going early is ideal.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The Major Welch Trail is a 1.5 mile hike up to Perkins Memorial Tower which is the top of Bear Mountain and the trail head is off Hessian Lake which is behind Bear Mountain Inn. This is a difficult hike, has a steady incline, and includes some scrambling. You don’t have to be in tip-top shape to do this hike, but you do have to be willing to work. It’s important to wear hiking shoes on this trail, it will make the hike so much easier, because the sturdy grip on hiking shoes make it easy to scramble up a few rock faces.
Once you get to the top at Perkins Memorial Tower you can rest and take in the view. An ideal trail to take down is the Appalachian trail. This trail is very well maintained with lots of steps. It’s an easy hike down compared to hiking up. We do not recommend hiking down the Major Welch trail. It’s possible, but very difficult because of a few steep rock faces. If you’re up for the challenge you can always try it, but it will be very difficult.
This hike totals a 3 mile loop and on average takes about 3 hours.
Almost forgot, you can use the restroom at the Inn before beginning your hike and there are porta-potties at the top of the mountain.
Hiking shoes (I love these Keen voyagers.)
Water bottle (Nalgene bottles are our first choice for light water water containers.)
Moisture wicking apparel (check out what’s in my gym bag for my favorite moisture wicking items.)
Sunscreen (we use this one all the time.)
Start your hike off on the right foot! Download your FREE hiking checklist below!
WHEN YOU REACH THE TOP
If this is your first time hiking Major Welch you may reach an overlook and think it’s the top, but keep going. There are so many beautiful views when hiking this side of the mountain, take your time and enjoy them. Once you do reach the top, you’;; see Perkins Tower and be able to take a rest and take in the view. On a clear day you can actually see the NYC skyline, it’s amazing.
REMEMBER YOUR WATER AND SNACKS
Snacking at the Perkins Tower is ideal too, don’t forget your snacks. It’s the perfect time to recharge and prepare for the hike down. Protein bars, trail mix, cuties, grapes, even peanut butter and jelly are great snacks for your hike.
We always remind our friends to bring plenty of water, because you’ll need plenty. Bring a small backpack, water bottle or two, and your snacks. Remember, you’ll be hiking for about 3 hours and sweating a lot, so you’ll need plenty of water.
Remember the water rule; drink of you body weight in ounces a day.