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Circular Hike Around Bear Mountain
This loop hike circles Bear Mountain, passing through the Trailside Museum and Zoo and crossing Popolopen Creek on a footbridge, with panoramic views.
Allowed on leash
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Take the Palisades Interstate Parkway to Exit 17 (Anthony Wayne Recreation Area) and park in the large parking area just to the right of the entrance kiosk.
This hike circles Bear Mountain on a mostly level route (although there are several climbs and descents). It offers attractive views and passes scenic lakes, reservoirs and streams - as well as the Trailside Museum and Zoo.
From the parking area, walk back along the entrance road until you reach a gravel road on the right blocked off with a gate. Turn right and follow this road, marked with the white blazes of the Anthony Wayne Trail. Bear right at the next fork and continue uphill, proceeding ahead across a four-way intersection.
When you reach a T-intersection, turn left. Then, in 25 feet, you'll notice three red-"F"-on-white blazes on a tree to the right, which mark the start of the Fawn Trail. Turn right onto the Fawn Trail, which climbs to reach a junction with the blue-blazed Timp-Torne Trail. Here, you should turn left to continue on the Fawn Trail, which now begins to descend to its terminus at a junction with the white-blazed Appalachian Trail (AT). Continue straight ahead, now following the white blazes of the AT through dense mountain laurel thickets.
Soon, the AT turns left and descends, and it then turns right and joins the 1777W Trail (red 1777W on white). When the AT turns left before reaching Seven Lakes Drive, you should turn right and continue on the 1777W Trail, which runs along a grassy woods road. After crossing the yellow-blazed Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail, the 1777W Trail begins to descend. At the base of the descent, the trail crosses a stream on a footbridge, and it ends, a short distance beyond, at a T-intersection.
Turn left at this junction, now following the 1777E Trail (red 1777E on white) through the abandoned hamlet of Doodletown. At the next T-intersection, turn right, then bear left at a fork and go around the Doodletown Reservoir. Continue ahead at the following intersection, where Lemmon Road leaves to the left.
After passing the garage of the Steinman home to the left, you'll notice a marker to the right, where a path leads down to a waterfall (a worthwhile side hike). Just ahead, follow the 1777E Trail as it bears left, leaving the wide road, and continues on a footpath.
Soon, the 1777E Trail turns right onto the Doodletown Bridle Path and descends to reach a junction with the blue-blazed Cornell Mine Trail, which comes in from the right. Continue ahead, now following both 1777E and Cornell Mine Trails, bearing left at the next fork and climbing a little.
In about half a mile, the joint trails go through a tunnel under the Seven Lakes Drive and then pass under the South Entrance Road. You're now entering the developed area surrounding the Bear Mountain Inn. Continue to follow the blazed trail, which proceeds between the Merry-Go-Round (to the right) and a parking area (to the left). At the end of the parking area, the Cornell Mine Trail leaves to the left, but you should continue ahead on the 1777E Trail, which follows a paved path, with Bear Mountain to the left. You'll pass the historic Bear Mountain Inn (now closed for repairs) and begin to parallel Hessian Lake.
Soon, the white-blazed A.T. joins from the left. Continue along the joint A.T./1777E Trail, which turns right at a sign for the Trailside Museum and Zoo and crosses under Route 9W via a tunnel. A short distance beyond, you'll reach the entrance to the Trailside Museum and Zoo (open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.). A $1.00 admission fee is charged.
Proceed ahead through the zoo, passing a statue of Walt Whitman. When the 1777E Trail ends just beyond the Amphibians, Reptiles and Fish Museum, continue ahead past the bear exhibit and turn right at a T-intersection, following the sign for "Exhibits." When you reach the Historical Museum, bear right onto a path that goes around the building, following the sign for "Scenic View."
With the Bear Mountain Bridge visible to the right, you'll come to a kiosk. Here, you should turn right onto a blue-stripe-on-white-blazed trail, which goes under the Bear Mountain Bridge and descends to reach a pedestrian footbridge over Popolopen Creek. The trail crosses the bridge, which affords panoramic views over the Hudson River, and climbs an old road to reach the Fort Montgomery Historic Site.
Go around the visitor center and climb stone steps, with a sign indicating "West and Round Hill Redoubts." You're now on the route of three trails: 1777W, 1779 and Timp-Torne (blue). Continue under Route 9W, then follow the blazes of these three trails, which soon turn left onto a paved road. When the road bends sharply to the right, the trails continue ahead into the woods. They briefly emerge onto another paved road, then turn right again and reach a junction with the red-on-white-blazed Brooks Lake Trail.
Continue to follow the three trails, which bear left and climb to rejoin the paved road. They turn right and follow the road, but just beyond Wildwood Ridge, they turn left and descend into the woods. The trails soon join a wide woods road - the route of the West Point Aqueduct. At first, the route climbs and descends steeply, but it soon levels off. The trails begin to parallel Popolopen Gorge, with the rushing waters of Popolopen Creek below to the left.
After a while, the blue-blazed Timp-Torne Trail leaves to the right, then soon rejoins. You should follow the 1777W and 1779 blazes. The three trails now descend to cross a footbridge over Popolopen Creek, then climb to reach a T-intersection with the red-on-white-blazed Popolopen Gorge Trail. Turn right, now following four trails: 1777W, 1779, Popolopen Gorge and Timp-Torne.
For the next half mile, you follow a narrow strip of land between the Palisades Interstate Parkway, on the left, and Popolopen Creek, on the right. After bearing right, away from the Parkway, the trails cross Popolopen Creek on a concrete footbridge and join a woods road. Soon, they turn left onto the Fort Montgomery Road and, a short distance beyond, reach a pistol range. Here, the Popolopen Gorge/1779 Trails turn right, but you should turn left, following the Timp-Torne/1777W Trails.
After rejoining the road, you'll pass a water treatment plant and soon reach a highway ramp. Turn left to cross the Palisades Interstate Parkway, then, at the end of the guardrail, turn right, cross another ramp, and reenter the woods. Just beyond, the 1777W Trail leaves to the left, but you should continue ahead on the blue-blazed Timp-Torne Trail.
In a quarter of a mile, you'll notice a triple-white blaze to the right, which marks the start of the Anthony Wayne Trail. Turn right and follow the Anthony Wayne Trail over a rise and down to the Anthony Wayne Recreation Area, where the hike began.