Last week my sister and I decided to take a little drive over the Hudson River to bring the kids to Bear Mountain. With scenic trails, plenty of rocks to climb, little trailside museums and a zoo which houses injured or orphaned animals that couldn’t survive in the wild, it was the perfect way to spend a summer afternoon.
We got there nice and early—with kids who get up with the sun (or in some cases before it), we’re generally ready for an adventure by mid morning. Note to self for future visits: bring cash for parking and, uh, don’t forget to put on deodorant. It’s kind of essential in the summer when pushing a 35-pound preschooler, her stroller, and lunch for three up hilly trails. Luckily, I’m fairly confident that the animal smells were at least slightly stronger than my own. 😉
While the older kids liked reading the little facts posted on the sides of the trail, the little ones were perfectly content to explore rocks and trace their fingers along fences and run wild and free. Ellie did all of her exploring on the way back down, because an empty stroller on the way up would have been too easy for me.
The animals were a huge hit—especially the lazy bears and the coyotes—and we loved exploring the little museums. Native American pottery and glassware had my name written all over it, while my nephew loved the old mining equipment and Samantha’s inner archaeology geek ooohed and ahhhhed over the rocks and crystals. We all thought the big mastodon fossil was pretty awesome and Jack (the sole boy on this adventure) was the only one not creeped out by the slithery snakes in the Reptile House.
The trail is pretty much the perfect length, as our troops started to get restless and began proclaiming they were staaaaaarved just as we looped around to head back. With some more rock exploration and a brief stop at the bears, the walk back definitely took less time—aside from Ellie wandering along as slowly as she could and letting us know how exhausted she was.
We stopped at the picnic tables overlooking Hessian Lake for lunch. The view is gorgeous and it was nice and shady so we cooled down a bit while our famished babes devoured their lunches and played on more rocks. Sweaty, covered in dirt, but happy, we led them to the carousel… which was closed. BOO. Next time we’ll know not to go on a Monday or Tuesday during the summer.
Since the kids were disappointed to say the least, we decided to stop for ice cream before heading back over the river. I’m pretty sure they immediately forgot about the lack of carousel riding. In need of a bath and sleepy, we headed home with the kids already asking when we could come back.
With a couple of weeks before the girls start school, we’re on the hunt for more fun little adventures like this one. If you recommend any places in the Hudson Valley or NYC, let me know!