Hiking Bear Mountain NY: Dunderberg, Bald Mountain & The Timp Peaks
If you’re hiking New York, then it’s almost certain that you’ve heard of Bear Mountain State Park. This 5000+ acre park extends through two counties and offers 235 miles of hiking trails alongside other outdoorsy activities including boating, biking, swimming, and even skiing.
As you can image, 235 miles of hiking trails covers a lot of ground, so there are a lot of amazing sites to see in Bear Mountain. This post will be highlighting a ~9 mile trail in the Eastern side of the park that covers the peaks of Dunderberg Mountain, Bald Mountain, and the Timp.
Each of these peaks have incredible viewpoints extending across the Hudson Valley and the Hudson River. It’s absolutely a challenging hike, but one that is completely worth the views!
Overview of the Dunderberg, Bald Mountain & Timp Hiking Trail
Location: Rockland County, NY
Distance: 8.5-9 mile loop
Time: 5-7 hours
Cell-Phone Service: Surprisingly strong. I didn’t have trouble with cell service for most of the hike
Features: Dunderberg Mountain, Bald Mountain, the Timp, Unfinished Tunnel
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Parking: Two off-road lots, fairly large
Dog Friendly: On-leash only
Location, Bathrooms, and Parking for
Bear Mountain to Dunderberg, Bald Mountain, & the Timp
The start of this hike is at the absolute bottom of the mountain, and the parking lot sits on the same elevation level as the Hudson River, across the street from the train line. The parking lot consists of two gravel off-road loads off of 9W at the intersection of River Road.
For off-road lots, they are fairly large, each fitting around 10-15 cars depending on how tightly everyone decides to park. With that said, Bear Mountain is a popular park and as you can see from the picture below even on a cold spring day, the lots can get full quickly.
There are no bathrooms here, and the drive up is pretty remote for a while before reaching the lot. So, you’ll want to keep that in mind when planning your trip.
Dunderberg, Bald Mountain, and Timp-Thorne Hiking Trail at Bear Mountain
Alltrails for this hike will show you two potential trail entrances that eventually connect. However, only one of them is still a functional and clear trail – the other is entirely impassable (and yes, I tried).
So, the trail you’ll want to take is actually up the road ~200 ft and NOT the one immediately off the parking lot.
Alltrails also says this hike is 7.4 miles long. This is incorrect – it’s much closer to 9.0 miles than 7.4 miles.
Assuming you choose the right starting point, you’ll be on a much clearer trail. About 0.5-1 mile in you’ll reach a turning point where you’ll need to decide to do the trail clockwise or counterclockwise.
Either will work, but I personally recommend counterclockwise. I do this primarily because there is a section of around 0.2-0.3 miles of loose rock and shale. I found it much easier to go up this than down. But if going down that part of the trail doesn’t bother you then either direction should be fine.
What to Expect Hiking Bear Mountain
The Dunderberg, Bald Mountain, and Timp-Thorne loop in Bear Mountain State Park is up and down the entire way. It’s a challenge, and you’ll definitely be getting your workout in the entire time.
No matter which direction you choose, you’ll spend the first ~2.0 miles heading uphill with a few, short, flat sections in between climbs. At around the 2.0 mile mark, you’ll stay at the same elevation, but not because it’s a flat trail. No, your elevation stays the same over the next few miles because you’re constantly going up and then down. Up and then down. This trail doesn’t offer up breaks easily.
But, if you’re okay with some elevation, then it’s an incredible trail. You’ll spend a good portion of it at the top of mountains, and get to be at the flight level of hawks and eagles (which I personally love).
I didn’t experience a lot of mud – but it is rocky. Some of the elevation climbs occur in drainage areas – so the rocks will be wet and slippery if it’s been rainy.
But, I found the consistency beauty of this trail makes it all worth it. You’ll get fairly consistent views of the Hudson Valley and River on most parts of the hike. Although, I had a few more viewpoints than a summer hiker would as I didn’t have to deal with leaves blocking my views.
Hiking to Dunderberg Mountain in Bear Mountain State Park
The first peak you’ll arrive at, after about ~3.5ish miles is Dunderberg Mountain. Instantly you’ll see a beautiful view of the Hudson Valley for miles.
Now, what surprised me most wasn’t the view, it was how empty the summit was. I did go in winter/early spring, so that may have contributed, but even so, the other peaks I summited that day had a lot more people. For Dunderberg, since it is a smaller one, there was no one around.
So, I was able to sit up here for a while and enjoy the view entirely by myself, which was incredible.
After descending Dunderberg you’ll pretty quickly get to a large intersection of several trails with a sign pointing you in many directions. Expect to converge on a lot of hikers at this point as everyone is trying to identify where they’re headed.
The trail you’re headed on will be clearly marked as headed towards Bald Mountain and the Timp.
Hiking Bald Mountain in Bear Mountain State Park
Summiting Bald Mountain was a treat, even if I wasn’t enjoying the summit solo. With that said, the views from Bald Mountain felt never-ending and the summit was so wide and open that it never felt crowded.
Now, when you immediately summit Bald Mountain, it’s beautiful – but don’t stop there. A side trail will take you closer to the edge, and it is truly worth the extra 0.1 miles down this trail. The views are incredible and you get a beautiful scene of Bear Mountain Bridge crossing the Hudson River that you otherwise wouldn’t get to see.
It was quite windy up here the day I came, and I would generally expect that no matter when you visit. you’re fairly high up, in Hudson Valley terms, and you’ll feel the weather slightly change because of the elevation.
Hiking to The Timp in Bear Mountain State Park
After Bald Mountain, you’re less than a mile away from the Timp! I think the views from the trail were the best ascending/descending from the Timp.
Now, technically the Timp viewpoints aren’t on the loop. You’ll have to take a side trail (clearly marked) up for about 0.4 miles to reach the views. But, it’s entirely worth it – both for views on the trip up and also for the views at the top.
The views at the Timp are nearly 360 degrees and you can see for miles and miles. However, this isn’t as flat of a summit and you’ll want to walk around to different viewpoints to really take in the views from all the angles.
There are also lots of places to sit, eat snacks/lunch, and just enjoy the views and a bit of rest before starting the second half of the hike.
The Unfinished Tunnel at Bear Mountain State Park
The unfinished tunnel is the last sight to see on the trail and they save it for nearly the end. Between the Timp and the tunnel lies a few miles of regular wooded hiking,
But, you’ll know when you’re approaching the tunnel, because large rock slabs start appearing seemingly out of nowhere and there are signs of human presence with how the rocks are placed off the trail.
Still, the Unfinished Tunnel sneaks up on you as you won’t see the entrance until you turn a corner and it’s right in front of you.
At first glance you can’t see inside the tunnel, as it’s too dark. And it’s filled with water – so you won’t be able to go inside. But, you can get a little closer to the entrance and I recommend that you do.
The water dripping from the top of the tunnel down into the tunnel was a sight to see. It was almost like it was raining inside! So cool!
Ending the Hiking Trail at Bear Mountain State Park
By the time you leave the unfinished tunnel, you’ll have been hiking downhill for a while. And, this downhill climb continues all the way back to the parking lot.
Which means my knees were killing me! I highly recommend hiking poles for this portion of the trail just to take the pressure off your knees, hips, and legs while you hike back to the car.
With that said, it’s a loop trail and eventually you will make it back to the point where the Timp-trail and the bald mountain trail converge. You’ll head back down the mountain here, dropping significantly in elevation, before reaching the bottom and your car.
Other Tips to Remember if Hiking at Bear Mountain
This hike at Bear Mountain in NY is a tough trail. You’ll want proper gear and shoes, enough water, and I also recommend hiking poles to help the knees on the trek down.
This park can be buggy in warmer months, so pack some bugspray. Also, be prepared for mud. Although I didn’t experience much the day I hikes, several parts of the trail cross water or have water nearby. So, it’s always a potential that you’ll need to hike through mud and potentially through some small streams on this hike.
Also, Bear Mountain in NY is different from Bear Mountain in CT in both location and also in intensity levels. Be sure you’ve chosen the right hike before heading out.
Other than that, it’s a great challenging hike and one that you’ll surely enjoy!
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