Bear Mountain State Park: Hessian Lake
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids New York City (AMC Books)
Address:Seven Lakes Drive, Bear Mountain, NY
Hours:8 A.M. to sunset daily
Fee: $8 per vehicle (free with an Empire Passport). Pool: adults, $2; children ages 6 to 12, $1; children 5 and under, free. Ice rink: adults and children over age 12, $4; children ages 4 to 11, $3
Bathrooms: Near entrance to pedestrian underpass; merry-go-round, picnic area; pool; trailside museum
Water/Snacks: Concessions near the picnic area; restaurant at Bear Mountain Inn

For nearly a century, millions of visitors have loved swimming, hiking, walking, biking, and ice skating at Bear Mountain.

Hessian Lake
Photo by: Cheryl and William de Jong-Lambert

A park of enduring legend and popularity, Bear Mountain State Park was designed as a system of lakes, trails, and scenic drives. In addition to trails coursing through natural beauty, Bear Mountain’s signature attractions include large picnic and barbecue areas, an enormous outdoor, art deco swimming pool, an outdoor ice rink, boat and canoe rentals, and a landmark merry-go-round whose seats are hand-carved renditions of black bears, wild turkeys, deer, raccoons, skunks, and other local animals.

The park’s idyllic Hessian Lake is a terrific spot for a kid-friendly, 1.25-mile hike. With the historic Bear Mountain Inn behind you, walk clockwise along the paved path around the southern rim of the lake. Shortly after the boat- house the trail, which is blazed with red dots with white borders, gets quite wooded and covers some gentle hills. At a number of spots you can walk out onto boulders overlooking the lake. A rugged cliff is along the northern rim of the walk. (No official trail leads up the cliff and you should not attempt to climb it.) The route flattens out as you approach the lake’s western bank. Most of this side is flanked by the shady picnic and barbecue area that slopes gently toward the lake. This route is also excellent for bicyclists of all ages. Remember: You cannot swim in Hessian Lake, but you can cast a line in for trout, black bass, or pickerel (New York fishing license required).

Plan B:

Paddle or pedal-boat around Hessian Lake. Boat rentals are $5 per person per hour. You can also hike the first-completed link of the Appalachian Trail (Trip 88).

Where to Eat Nearby:

Restaurants, diners, and convenience stores are in nearby Highland Falls.


Get outdoor tips & trips
Yes, I want to receive expert advice on getting my family outside!



Ellis Island »
Island walk with terrific views
Battery Park, State Street and Battery Place, Manhattan, NY (ferry departure point)

Taconic State Park: Rudd Pond »
Ice fishing near the campsites
59 Rudd Pond Road, Millerton, NY

Forest Park »
Mountain-biking and horseback-riding trails
Park Lane and Forest Park Drive, Queens, NY

Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park: Pelton Pond »
Boat rentals at the beach
Cold Spring Turnpike, Kent, NY


North-South Lake: Catskill Mountain House »

Short hike to breathtaking mountain ridge views
County Road 18, Haines Falls, NY

Heckscher State Park »

Swimming or paddling in bay surf
Heckscher State Parkway, East Islip, NY

Central Park (South) »

The largest playground in the park
West 59th Street at Columbus Circle, Manhattan, NY

© 2023 Appalachian Mountain Club | 10 City Square, Boston, MA 02129
About | Privacy Policy | Contact Us