Bear Mountain Loop

Loop • 9.7 mi • 1100 ft

A demanding all-day or overnight loop rolls through steep wooded terrain, topping Bear and West Mountains, offering views of the lower Hudson River area. Special Attractions: vistas, Perkins Tower, lean-to, historic area, Mountain laurel and dogwood blooms, fall foliage. Fee parking.
Download Trail Guide
View Topo Map
Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Highland Falls
Length: 9.7 total miles
Elevation Gain: 1,100 feet
Trail Type: Loop
Skill Level: Strenuous
Season: Spring through Fall
Top Elevation: 1,305 feet
Local Contacts: New York State Parks, Palisades Region
Local Maps: State Park flier, New York-New Jersey Trail Conference map, East Hudson trails, Harriman Park-North Half
Recent Photos ( View All Photos )
Got photos of this trail?  Upload Now
Write a Review

Pretty intense workout on the way up... easy down hill.. pretty good hike, not too strenuous


I had a chance to enjoy this hike during summer. The 5 story tower at the top was neat but extremely crowded and noisy. The stone steps were nice and added a nice touch to the hike If your interested in seeing a video of my winter hiking experience on Bear Mountain be sure to check out my website for it as well as photos and trail info.


Really, really hard trail to complete during winter, even a mild one like this year's. Ice sheets and packed/frozen snow made the ascent of Bear Mountain almost impossible, and the descents were full of falls, trips, and slides. Because of the amount of time it took us to clear just Bear, we had to cut out the rest of the trail via the 1777 Trail. Still, an absolutely breathtaking hike and one of the most challenging and rewarding I've ever done. Added bonus: the trails are all marked extremely well, even if the trail is totally covered over.


This was a fantastic hike, beautiful views and challenging. Taking the Major Welsh up to the top of Bear Mountain was a tough way to start this hike, but definitely got me ready for what was to come. The shelter at West Mountain has *amazing* views over the Hudson and of Manhattan in the distance. I met several AT thru-hikers at the shelter and I imagine it gets packed on weekends, there's a number of good tent sites nearby. Saw some interesting wildlife as well, deer, turkey vultures... All in all one of the better overnighters I've done, could easily be done as a day hike, since taking the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail down is easy compared to the rest of the hike, but the West Mountain shelter was a great place to camp. Also, I took the Shortline bus from the Port Authority to the Bear Mountain Inn, really easy, though the trip back into the city on a Friday afternoon took a loooong time.


Awesome hike! Believe the reviews that it is pretty strenuous! Definitely take the Welch up and the AT down --> the Welch is majority rocks/boulders and may be more difficult on the way down! Also, the Tower at the top is currently under remodeling/reconstruction so no views of the Manhattan skyline that we were able to see! Great views, though- worth every minute! Definitely recommend this hike! ;)AA


Very, very nice hike. We ended up making some adjustments and doing the AT section backwards from what is exactly stated on the trail guide and starting from a more southern parking area. We also took a detour to visit "Doodletown," which wasn't all that exciting. Very scenic, with some good vertical gain, but not all that technical. Highly recommended.


A very difficult hike up Bear Mountain but scenery is great once you get to the top. You can see the Manhattan skyline from the top. Stayed overnight at the lean to shelter on mile 8 of the hike. You can't really see the Manhattan skyline because another summit covers the view to the south. Overall the trail conditions were good but try to pack light in order to make it up Bear Mountain.


This trail is alot of fun but certainly requires endurance. i actually wound up doing it backwards because the major welch had alot of traffic heading up to Perkins Tower. For a more isolated route i suggest starting at Suffern Bear, and ending with Major Welch. Just a brief note if one decides to do this. Someone painted some of suffern bears yellow markers red along the way. I don't know if this was a stupid joke or if it was done for a reason. It puzzled me for a moment, but if you continue on, you will find your yellow markers again. LM


Go during the week mid-winter for a truly solitude experience.


As stated above, the Major Welch -> AT loop is a nice 1/2 day hike ~3.7 miles. The steepness of the Major Welch trail is not to be underestimated. It is a very hard descent in wet weather as it is mostly on slabs. If you decide to do this loop with novices or children, go up the Major Welch and down the AT. You will get spectacular views of the Hudson River from Bear MT Bridge and Anthony's Nose to Iona Island and Bald Mt. On top of Bear Mt is a stone tower, open to the public, with full views in all directions. The loop starts directly behind the Bear Mt Inn at the south tip of Hessian Lake.


I did a section of this as a day hike. We took the Major Welch Trail, which starts at the Bear Mt Inn, and goes to the top of Bear Mt. The trail is kept in great shape. It is a very rocky, relatively steep ascent, though definatley do-able for people with moderate abilities. The trail is marked with white blazes containing a red circle and starts at Hessian Lake.

View More