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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Ausable Point Campground, NY

Years ago I picked up a used Coleman pop-up camper. I can say that it was without a doubt, the second or third smartest decision I have made in my entire life. My family has had a lot of fun in that thing.

ausable point campsite

The DEC Ausable Point campground, just south of Plattsburgh on the shore of Lake Champlain, is one of our favorite spots. In spite of our busy schedule I was able to block out three days so I could get back to Ausable Point with my boys.

Schedule uncertainty prevented me from reserving a choice beach or river site, but we were happy to set up across from the small boat launch that would let us put our canoe right into the lower Ausable.

Continue reading