Hiking Bear Mountain NY

Bear Mountain State Park is another cool place with lots of history, including some of New York’s early ski history. But it also attracts so many people every summer weekend that the heavy traffic can make it difficult to get around northern Rockland County, much less take advantage of the hiking, paddling and swimming opportunities the park offers.

bear mountain trail building exhibit

It can be disheartening. It’s not just because the crowds and traffic make access difficult, but also the impact all those people have in terms of litter, erosion, noise pollution. The crowds at Harriman and Bear redefine the term “intensive use.” On a normal summer weekend, I definitely avoid Bear Mountain.

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Valcour Island: Battle of the Waves

Valcour Island sits off the western shore of Lake Champlain, just south of Plattsburgh. It’s another of those spots in upstate New York where what you see today doesn’t even start to tell the story of the place’s history.

Valcour Island was the site of a naval battle during the Revolutionary War in which Benedict Arnold contested dominance of Lake Champlain just enough to prevent the British from pushing south in 1776.

There is only a half mile of water between Valcour and the shore. Though it always beckoned to me, sitting out there, right across from a big concrete boat ramp in Peru NY, I always felt better staying close to shore when paddling with my sons.

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Paradox Lake Camping

New York has many special regions, but my favorite as an avid skier and hiker is the Adirondacks. Recently on a week of “funemployment” before starting my new job, I chose Paradox Lake for a few days of camping, kayaking and hiking.

Paradox Lake

I met up with John on a Monday morning and we trekked up the Thruway to the town Paradox; a rural town in the eastern foothills of the mountains that is home to beautiful Paradox Lake and a well-maintained campsite, complete with a beach. We set up camp quickly in anticipation of a rainstorm that never arrived, and took the kayaks out for happy hour on Birch Island; a small island just a two hundred yards from the shore.

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