New York State in the Fall: A Local Escape to Bear Mountain

I absolutely love New York state in the fall. Apples, pumpkins, Oktoberfest, farms and foliage – it’s my favorite time of year. Every year, we try to fill the month of October with local and festive fall activities and this year was no exception. To add to its appeal, October is also the month when we celebrate our wedding anniversary (on the 6) and my birthday (on the 24) – and Halloween, of course! So it’s essentially a month-long celebration of life, love and nature.  This year we planned an anniversary date on the North Fork of Long Island to go apple and pumpkin picking, and 2 separate trips upstate for some fall hiking.

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Bear Mountain State Park

Our first stop upstate was Bear Mountain. A short drive from our house on Long Island, it took about 2 hours to get there, which is the perfect distance for a nice day hike. We’d never been to Bear Mountain State Park before and were pleasantly surprised by it’s natural beauty, accessibility, variety of trails and the fact that it’s dog friendly. Taking that into account, we brought Dodger along for the adventure and he was thrilled.  Seriously, this dog is pure joy, especially when he gets to go on long car rides with us – and gets fed bacon for breakfast to fuel for a long hike (he might be a little spoiled). Arriving at Bear Mountain around 11am, we paid the modest park entry fee of $10, picked up a trail map and decided to head off on the Perkins Memorial Tower trail, a 3.9 mile loop that begins along the lake and ascends vertically up to the top of the mountain, offering spectacular views of the Hudson highlands.

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Happy pup ready to hike

Keeping in mind that I’m 17 weeks pregnant, we kept a slow pace and enjoyed the mountain views and beautiful foliage. The ascent was steep, but the trails were well-maintained, albeit crowded (it was a perfect fall day after all). Dodger did fantastic on the trails, but me – not so much. After climbing for quite some time, and failing to reach the very top, we decided to turn around after a slightly technical stretch of rock scrambles. We’ve hiked many various trails and mountains across New York State and never shy away from a scramble, but being pregnant, it felt a little too risky for me to handle. This trail was labeled challenging, and I can see why. The scrambles were manageable, but I was afraid of slipping and falling. Pregnancy is a weird and scary time. For the most part, I’ve been blessed with a healthy, active and energetic second trimester, but sometimes no amount of physical capability can calm the increasing nerves and anxiety that come with the monumental task of growing a tiny human. Sure, the doctor said exercise is beneficial during pregnancy and I’m listening to my body, but am I doing too much? Can I safely make it back down this mountain without slipping and endangering the baby? My body might be sore tomorrow, I’m not used to this kind of exercise lately, will that hurt the baby? Things that I would have never worried about, or activities that have never scared me in the past, are suddenly terrifying. At times this can be a tough pill to swallow for a free-spirited and adventure seeking couple like us. When I traveled in my early 20’s, I was fearless and untouchable, as I’m sure was Paul in his own way, as are most twenty-something year olds. But I can’t be reckless anymore and I am no longer invincible, not when my future child’s well-being is involved. I realize that many of our travels in the coming years may take this similar turn. That, perhaps, we will find ourselves doing less, covering shorter distances, and choosing safer and easier activities. And, I suppose, this is just the beginning of a long future of parental fears and worries. But as much as it can be limiting and stressful at times, it’s also beautiful – for we wouldn’t worry if we didn’t have something to lose. If we weren’t already completely in love with the tiny being we have yet to meet, and aware that our entire job right now is to protect it. So, with caution and responsibility taking hold of our morning hike, we decided to turn around after reaching the first look out. Thankfully, I have a strong and supportive husband who was able to ensure that me, the dog and all of our belongings made it safely down the mountain. We did, however, access some beautiful views of the Hudson river and Bear Mountain range, and for us, this time, it was enough.

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Though, for what it’s worth, Dodger could have ran up that mountain 3 times over. He packs a TON of energy for a 25 lb cocker spaniel. This was his first real experience in the mountains and he LOVED it. He will definitely be accompanying us again in the future!

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On the trail

And a few more iphone images of our fall fun:

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Apple picking at Woodside Orchards in Aquebogue
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Pumpkin picking with our niece Sadie
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Excited for a beautiful fall hike!

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The car ride home – tell me that’s not the face of an exhausted and satisfied cocker?

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