Length: 4 miles • Elevation: Approximately 1,300 feet • Highlights: Feeling superior to those sissies who drove to the tower
A popular spot for swimming, boating, and picnicking, Bear Mountain (along with its neighbor, Harriman State Park) offers a total of 230 miles of hiking trails, including the demanding climb that takes hikers to the Perkins Memorial Tower at the peak’s summit. As mountains go, Bear isn’t all that high — but the trek up to the tower features a punishing ascent on the Major Welch trail. The reward, however, is well worth the effort: the 360-degree view from the top of the circa 1930s stone tower takes in sights in four states — everything from the Hudson River and West Point to the Manhattan skyline. The hike also skirts historic Hessian (or Bloody) Lake, so-named for the 250 Hessian soldiers who, in 1777, died while fighting against Washington’s troops in the battle for Fort Clinton. Their remains were thrown into the lake, whose waters (legend has it) were red with their blood for days afterwards.