After spending a summer in Harriman State Park, I’ve gotta say, the area is wrongly overlooked. Far more accessible than the Catskills or the Adirondacks, Harriman and the surrounding areas boast comparable hikes and views only an hour outside of New York City. Within and nearby the park there are ample options for all sorts of lodging and activities, from upscale resorts and skiing to backcountry camping and swimming. The Appalachian Trail runs through the park, providing plenty of opportunities to hop on it for a day hike or just leave behind some trail magic for thru-hikers. Driving through the area gives you a taste of the gorgeous views and scenery that populate the region and shows you that you’re never very far from natural splendor around here.
The following are some of my favorite spots from my time in and around the area:
Jackie Jones Fire Tower
Located on the Suffern-Bear Mountain trail, this old fire tower, built in 1928 and restored in 2018, provides a great view of Lake Welch and, on a clear day, the distant Manhattan skyline. Some routes to the tower also pass through the ruins of the ORAK estate and Big Hill Shelter, making for an exciting hike.
Bear Mountain Hike
This short and steep ascent is part of the Appalachian Trail, but you can hop on it at Bear Mountain Inn, a beautiful building that also houses a small cafe for a post-hike snack.
The tough climb to the top that rewards you with incredible views of the surrounding area and, in the distance, New York City.
If you’re lucky, the tower at the top will be open and you can gain a few more feet of elevation for some even better views.
Art Cafe & Pickwick Book Shop
If you’re ready to get out of the woods and into civilization, I highly recommend Nyack, NY. This artsy little town is home to plenty of festivals and street fairs come fall. Art Cafe, and isreali eatery and coffee shop, is a lovely place to stop for a bite. Inside you can see through the windows to the library next door, a beautiful and architecturally intriguing building.
While you’re in Nyack, stop at Pickwick Book Shop. There you’ll find seemingly random stacks of books piled as far as the eye can see, and an owner who knows exactly where each one is. The shop sells both new and used books.
Bellvale Farms Creamery
Not far outside the park in Warwick, NY, you can find this gem of an ice cream parlor. Bellvale makes all of their ice cream from scratch and serves it up in white, barn-like building on the Appalachian trail, making it a popular spot for thru-hikers. Not only is the ice cream some of the best you’ll ever eat, the views of the valley are unbelievable.
If you know of any other nearby spots, let me know! I barely scratched the surface this summer, so I can’t wait to go back and see more.