BY ROBERT KNIGHT
Rockland County residents who are seeking something a little different to do on a weekend, can check out several local parks in Palisades Interstate Park System that are offering everything from historical hikes colonial cooking classes, and they are all family friendly.
For example this Saturday there is a hike on a local section of the national Appalachian Trail starting at Bear Mountain. At Mrs. Kearney’s Tavern in Apline NJ will be a candlelit evening of colonial refreshments, story telling and history lessons. Children and their parents can take a walk around a pond at Lake Minnewaska and learn about pond life.
For those desiring a spectacular view without much effort, the Perkins Memorial Drive and Perkins Tower have just re-opened for the season at Bear Mountain. They are already drawing crowds who come to marvel at being able to see four states at once from this incredible stone monument
History buffs will fall in love with a Revolutionary War encampment weekend on April 28 and 29 at the New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site near Newburgh.
In addition to coming events, of which we’ll list details of those coming up within the next couple of weeks, the Parks Commission has also made some interesting announcements in the past week or two, seeking public input into the planned rehabilitation of several parks in our area, the first time that has been attempted in several years.
Inn, Tower Re-Open
The fabled Bear Mountain Inn has finally re-opened, after nearly a decade of being closed for extensive repairs and upgrades, and it is a spectacular sight indeed. For a small parking fee you get everything else for free, including the fabulous Trailside Museum and Zoo, picnicking at Hessian Lake, tours at the visitors center at nearby Fort Montgomery, and the aforementioned Perkins Drive and Tower perched on the very crest of Bear Mountain.
For modest fees, you can also enjoy dinner or a snack inside the Inn, a swim at the Bear Mountain Pool or a boat ride on Hessian Lake.
Regarding Perkins, the Commission announced last week that the road and the tower itself have re-opened for the season. Weather permitting they are open seven days a week from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. They will close again in the winter, when snow and ice make the roadway impassable.
From the tower you can also see a unique view that includes the Bear Mountain Bridge, West Point (The United States Military Academy), Storm King Mountain, Constitution and Iona Islands and historic Fort Montgomery, where patriots stretched an iron chain across the Hudson to hold back the British navy during the Revolutionary War.
Besides the incredible views, the story of the PIPC is told through text and photos as you walk the stairs to the tower room inside Perkins.
For information on the attractions at Bear Mountain, call (845) 786-2701 x 242. For additional information on Bear Mountain and all of the parks within the PIPC system, visit their website at www.palisadesparkconservancy.org
Bear Mountain is just one of many parks within the Palisades Interstate Park system that are in Rockland County, or immediately adjacent in Bergen and Orange County.
Five of are within Rockland, and the PIPC has plans to significantly the parks this year. To accomplish this, the PIPC has taken the unusual step of advertising its plans and is seeking public input from residents on what they would like to see done at Tallman Mountain State Park in Sparkill, Rockland Lake state Park, Hook Mountain State Park, Nyack Beach State Park and Haverstraw Bay State Park. The PIPC will create a masterplan of the park upgrades from the public input.
For those interested in activities and events occurring within the park system, here is a sampling of some coming up in the next week or two.
Sat., April 21, 10 a.m., a historic hike along a portion of the Appalachian Trail. The starting point is Fort Montgomery State Historic Site on Route 9W, just north of Bear Mountain. The hike is free, but reservations required. To register, call (845) 446-2134.
Sat., April 21 and 28, 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., enjoy “punch and pie” at Mrs. Kearney’s Tavern in Alpine, NJ. This is part of the spring tavern programs at the historic Kearney House at the Alpine Boat Basin and Picnic Area, just off the Palisades Parkway in Alpine, NJ. The programs consist of light food and drink (guests may bring their own beer or wine if they like), Cost is $20 per guest, and reservations and pre-payment are required. For more information call the site at (201) 768-1360 x 108.
Sat., April 21, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m., special visit to a pond at Minnewaska State Park in Ulster County, geared for elementary age children and their parents. See and study the life that thrives in the pond, be it bird, insect or amphibian. Free but $8 fee to park at Minnewaska, on Route 44/55 in Gardner, NY, five miles west of Route 299. Pre-registration is required by calling (845) 255-0752.
Sun., April 22, 1 p.m., join the Friends of Sterling Forest and explore some of the early mines of that area, just over the Rockland border west of Sloatsburg. The mines themselves are off limits to the general public and cannot be approached unless the visitor is on an authorized hike such as this one. Hike is 3-4 miles up and down a moderate mountainous trail, starting from the Frank R. Lautenberg Sterling Forest visitors’ center. No charge. To register or for more information, call the center at (845) 351-5907.
Sun., April 22, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Environmental educator Laura Conner will lead a long walk for Earth Day along picturesque carriage roads at Minnewaska State Park to reach Hamilton Point, where beautiful vistas abound. Total distance is about nine miles and it includes one section of narrow, steep footpath. Participants must bring water, snacks and lunch and wear appropriate hiking shoes. Free but parking fee is $8 and pre-registration is required, call (845) 255-0752.
Thurs., April 26, 7 p.m., Lecture at the Fort Montgomery State Historic Site on Route 9W, just north of Bear Mountain. Subject of this month’s talk is “A striking likeness: using artwork for historical research…and using research to study artwork.” Admission is free but reservations are required. Call the site at (845) 446-2134.
Sat., April 28, 1 p.m., hike with the Friends of Sterling Forest to the only active fire tower in New York State. Susan Serico will lead this 4-mile moderate hike starting from the Lautenberg visitor’s center. See April 22 for phone info.
Sat. & Sun., April 28 & 29, full weekend of Revolutionary War re-enactment units encampment at the New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site in New Windsor, NY, just outside of Newburgh. The site hosts the Brigade of the American Revolution in this annual event which includes not only 18th century encampments but appropriate musket firing demonstrations, music, meal preparation and general camp life for the average soldier during the War for Independence. The Cantonment is located on Route 300, also called Temple Hill Road, in the Town of New Windsor. For further information or directions call the site at (845) 561-1765 x 22.
Sat., May 5, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site in Newburgh will host the second annual Newburgh Volunteer fair, in conjunction with the Newburgh Free Library.
Sun., May 6, all day. The Palisades Park Conservancy will host its first annual “Escape to the Palisades” half marathon and family fun 5Krun along the west shore of the Hudson River at Fort Lee, NJ. This is a sanctioned 13.1-mile half marathon 5K race that will start and finish at the historic Ross Dock on the Hudson at Fort Lee, just north of the George Washington Bridge and shielded by the backdrop of the majestic Palisades Cliffs. For information about registering for the run, for directions, or for other information, call the park commission office at Bear Mountain at (845) 786-2701 or visit the Conservancy’s web site at www.palisadesparkconservancy.org or the new web site for the event itself at www.escapetopalisades.com