Limited by the few public transportation routes which leave a carless dude like me at trailheads, I tend to take the same hikes repeatedly. Of course, I could rent a car or take a taxi from a depot to surmount a new obstacle. But somehow, it just seems easier to take the path of least resistance.
So anyway…it’s usually one of two public transportation modes I use. Either the bus to Bear Mountain…or the train to Cold Spring. Together they offer maybe a dozen different hikes. Bear Mountain, what you would assume is an obvious trek, is one I hadn’t done for a few years owing to its heavy people traffic and road to the top which always leaves the summit overpopulated with people who didn’t “earn” the view.
Last Wednesday I decided it was time to climb Bear Mountain again. There are two options. The pussy trail – or the Major Welch Trail. I opted for the latter up and the former down. The Major Welch Trail is for real and rewards its hikers with several excellent views of the Hudson Valley.
Unfortunately, I picked a bad day. Partly cloudy was the forecast. But mostly cloudy was the reality. Taking in scenic overlooks on a cloudy day is akin to watching a technicolor movie in black and white. Especially when the leaves are changing. Plus, it was cold and windy. Thursday would have been better as it turned out. Oh well!
I’m not one to descend the Major Welch Trail. It’s too steep. Plus, you end up seeing the same views. So as per normal, I descended on the pussy trail which I knew would intersect with a road which brings the hiker to one of the best overlooks in the entire valley. But something weird happened. The white trail down had been re-excavated and almost turned into a staircase. I was not happy. It was way too civilized and populated for my tastes. Plus, the new trail never intersects with the road which connects the hiker to that overlook.
The weather being what it was, I simply wrote the day off and descended without too much of an attitude until I was pleasantly surprised to find that those who would excavate that new trail did so with scenic overlooks in mind. Who’d a thunk? The hike down on the pussy trail featured some really bucolic views. Of course, there were more than a few people passing by. But I put up my hood…got off the beaten path…and blocked them out. And incredibly, the sun even started to pop through casting interesting shadows across the valleys and mountain tops.
Eventually (like halfway down), the new trail intersected with the old and I recognized exactly where I was. While most of the leaves were a lime green and the fall colors weren’t yet in full bloom, I found the hike restful and worth the effort. Yes, there were a fair amount of people at the summit and on the trek down. But bearable at least – though I wouldn’t do it on a weekend!
So for the hikers out there who haven’t been to Bear Mountain for a while – or at all? Worth the trip. There’s a bus from Port Authority at 8:45 AM and a return at 3:19 PM only (weekends has a 5:19 PM bus also). Miss the bus and you’ll be staying over at the Bear Mountain Inn (which is beautiful by the way)…or taking a cab to Peekskill to catch Metro North.
That’s it. See you on the trails. The following is a view from Major Welch!