Situated in the rugged mountains rising from the west bank of the Hudson River, the State Park began formal operations in 1910, with construction on its flagship lodge, the Bear Mountain Inn, starting four years later. The rustic lodge and its furnishings were built by Park employees, using natural materials found in the local environment. Now registered in the National and New York State Registers of Historic Places, it represents an early example of regional architecture – a true centerpiece of the State Park system that gracefully overlooks both the Hudson River and historic Hessian Lake. Through generous gifts and purchases in subsequent years, the Park was expanded into a heavily forested 5,000 acres that offer visitors fresh air, recreation and the beauties of nature.
Day-use activities include a large playing field, shaded picnic groves, rowboat docks on Hessian Lake, a dock on the Hudson for mooring small craft, a swimming pool and bathhouse, lake and river fishing, biking and cross-country ski trails, nature trails including key segments of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and the Long Path, a basketball court, the Trailside Museums and Zoo, the Iona Island Estuarine Reserve and Bird Refuge, Perkins Tower and a Merry-Go-Round featuring hand-painted scenes of the Park and 42 hand-carved seats of native animals: black bear, wild turkey, deer, raccoon, skunk, Canada goose, fox, swan, bobcat, rabbit and more. The picturesque scenery may be even more spectacular in winter, with an outdoor rink open to ice skaters from late October through mid-March.
Last year, an extensive renovation of the Inn was mounted to bring it back to its original splendor. When it’s complete, guests will be offered one of 15 luxury suites with redesigned bathrooms, enhanced décor and an in-room hospitality center featuring a microwave, refrigerator and coffee program. The historic structure will boast a spa and fitness center, along with full-service culinary amenities in Café 1915 and Vintage Restaurant, Bear Mountain Trading Company (a Hudson Valley store featuring Park memorabilia and local crafts) and over 20,000 square feet of meeting and catering space. Renovations are expected to be done by mid-2011. The four Stone Cottages have received similar renovations, in addition to a hospitality center in the Cottages’ common area.
With culinary events scheduled by Culinary Institute of America-schooled executive chef Michael Matarazzo (who received the American Culinary Federation, Inc. (ACF)’s Northeast Region Chef of the Year award at the 2010 ACF Northeast Regional Conference), wintertime visits are guaranteed to be heart- and belly-warming. Indeed, activities for all ages and interests abound in this stunning landscape. The Inn’s “Eco Program,” adhered to by every person who works at the facility, holds the mission to support a sustainable world and reduce impact on the environment, while continuing to deliver a premium guest experience with non-intrusive, high quality, eco-friendly products and services.
For more information about Bear Mountain Inn and State Park and the Winter Wonderland Family Fun Package, visit www.visitbearmountain.com or call (845) 786-2731.