New York - Bear Mountain Hike

 Morton appreciates nature too. 

Morton appreciates nature too. 

One of the main draws we felt to NYC was that it was a bustling city, but it was also close to so many things -- other major cities, historical landmarks, and the Appalachian Trail. Ever since I read the book A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, I've been so intrigued by the Appalachian Trail. Unlike Bill, I don't think I'll ever do the whole thing at once (I mean... who has time for that??). But, I'd like to hike chunks of it. 

We got to hike a chunk of that trail today!

Bear Mountain State Park is just an hour an a half away from our apartment in Brooklyn. We did have to go through Manhattan to get there (stressful driving), but we were mainly on FDR along the river, which doesn't have a lot of traffic. 

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I love how as soon as you step (or drive) outside of the boundaries of New York City, the landscape transforms completely. It's like --- skyscrapers, traffic, and lots of people --> lush green trees, suburban housing, and open roads. 

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The park was beautiful (and had a cheap $8 per car entry fee). The area where you park was pretty crowded -- there were a ton of families picnicking today. But once you got onto the trails, it was much more secluded. The trails were very well marked, and they had built rock "stairs" to make the trek a bit easier -- it was still pretty steep. This was Morton's first mountain, so we tried to take it easy on him. We stopped for frequent water breaks, keeping in mind that everything we were doing, he was doing with a fur coat on. 

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 Super-convenient doggie water dispenser thing. 

Super-convenient doggie water dispenser thing. 

For ourselves to eat, we packed turkey sandwiches and trail mix. 

The mountain just kept going and going. We would come to a gorgeous view and say, "Wow, this must be the top!" But then the trail would keep going. 

Morton did an awesome job for his first mountain hike, but it was really hot outside. We didn't go all the way to the tower at the top of the mountain, because Mort was starting to get too hot. We stopped for a while, and gave him a ton of water. I had a towel in my pack, so I poured some of my water on it and laid it on him to cool him down.

 Morton cooling off like a champ

Morton cooling off like a champ

After he had plenty of time to rest, we headed back down to the car. We'll plan another trip soon and go all the way to the top then. NBD. 

The trek down was so leisurely. Obviously, it's much less strenuous to go down stairs than it is to go up stairs. We even took a break to sit on a rock and read for 30 minutes or so. 

We were on the trails from 10am - 1pm (including breaks), so all of us were pretty tired and eager to get home for a nap. We got back in the car and cranked up the A/C. 

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Overall, it was a great day hike. We're definitely coming back. Here are some things we learned:

  1. Pack more water. Matt and I both packed a Nalgene (32oz) for ourselves, and then we packed Morton's water bottle (14oz). We definitely needed more. I ended up sharing mine with Morton. 
  2. Print a map of the camp grounds. There isn't very good cell phone coverage up there, so getting into and out of the park with Google Maps isn't always possible.
  3. Train Morton on hills/stairs. 
  4. Look at Toll road pricing for the bridges on the west side of Manhattan. Going to the park, we crossed the Tappan Zee Bridge for free (but we saw that it had a toll coming back). Coming back, the George Washington bridge was $13 to come back into Manhattan. Surely one of the toll bridges is cheaper than that. 

What are your favorite hiking trails? Do you hike with your dog?

PS. If you caught my NEATure walk reference on Instagram, you should watch this video --> Neature Walk Episode 1