I fell in love with New York a long time ago, well before I even visited for the first time in 2012. New York has a way of casting a spell on people before they take in its glory first hand. It also has this way of making you feel like anyone belongs. If there is a place in the world that makes everyone feel like they truly belong, then it’s New York.
I have been to New York before so this worked as a great advantage to us when it came time for me to plan our 12 days there. Heading up state was a no brainer. I had no particular urge to get out of the city on our first full day there but given it was early April and they had experienced a late winter and snow fall I was desperate to head to Bear Mountain to see some snow.
There are few options in order to get to Bear Mountain. The first is a Bus, with a very specific departure and arrival time, the other, is by car. My husband was apprehensive about driving in Manhattan, as was I, so we caught the PATH to Hoboken, New Jersey. Our hotel (Yotel New York) is on 42nd street, corner of 42nd and 10th, so we walked to 33rd street Station to catch the PATH train; this train is not included in the MetroCard so you will need to purchase a separate return ticket, around $5 or so. The PATH train will end at Hoboken Station in New Jersey. When you exit the station you will find River Street. A few blocks north is Enterprise Car Rental. https://www.enterprise.com/en/home.html By renting a car in New Jersey, which was only a short subway ride away, we avoided what would have been a stressful situation and paying toll’s in and out of the city.
With car keys and GPS in hand we hit the road, following major highways, sleepy towns and quaint highways, we were in Bear Mountain in a little over an hour. The route was easy and relaxing, the destination was spectacular. For history buffs the Hudson Valley, where Bear Mountain is located, encompassed battle forts and training grounds during the American Revolution. For those that just simply love a good view, there’s plenty of that. With lakes, rivers and rugged mountains; coupled with beautiful forest everywhere you turn, it’s hard not to fall in love with the Hudson Valley.
There is so much to do in Bear Mountain ranging from fishing, swimming, biking and even a zoo; but it is designed largely for hikers or skiers. The best time to go is either during snow season so you can hit the slopes or in warmer months for a good hike. We went early April, after the snow had melted. It was still freezing cold though don’t get me wrong, approximately 3 degrees Celsius or so. It did snow very lightly but it was too warm and it melted as it hit the ground. I still squealed with delight either way.
One thing that should be a must on your visit to Bear Mountain is Perkins Drive and the Observatory. Whether you climb to the top of the small Observatory tower or not you are guaranteed a spectacular view of Manhattan in all it’s glory. Park benches made of driftwood are situated in perfect spots to sit and take it all in.
Having the car meant that we could do what we do best, explore. We followed the windy roads around the State Park and discovered pristine lakes, the close to zero temperature giving it an eerie feel as we practically had the State Park to ourselves. Lakes would run alongside or underneath roads that were far too large to be called a lake in my opinion. Wild deer roamed free, wary and cautious of the intruders. A truly magical day which I struggle to describe.
When you can eventually dragged yourself away from the serene landscape of the Hudson Valley I urge you not be in a rush to get back to Manhattan. Hoboken provides a wonderful, close up view of the Manhattan skyline, which is well worth the detour back to the train station.