Trip Reports on 
Bear Mt / Newburgh-Beacon Loop

Warning:  There are major restrictions on travel in and through the United States Military Academy at West Point (as of July 2009).  This might require a major alteration of this route -- see Variations D + F.  See also Condition Reports under "Orange County" and Trip Reports for more details and for ideas on alternate routes.  Before trying this route, check if bicycle travel is permitted from the Thayer gate entrance through the West Point campus to the Washington gate exit.

Susan, July 2009:

I did the Bear Mt/Newburgh-beacon loop a few days ago. As always, I took the Mine Rd detour, variation D. As always for me, the big sign at the bottom of Mine Rd. said "road open". Two miles up, the gate was swung shut, with a "road closed" sign and warnings up. I backtracked, went to Thayer gate and was refused entrance, apologetically, so ended up taking the Mountain Ave. variation F (which is fine also).
I called West Point and the military police there at (845) 938-3333 can tell you on any given day if Mine is open or closed.

William, March 2009:

My girlfriend and I rode this loop yesterday. We had fantastic weather and it was a wonderful ride. We were not allowed to enter the West Point campus so we took State Rt. 218 around which was fine. The Storm King highway was in fantastic condition and the lack of leaves on trees made for stunning views of the Hudson Valley. We ate our lunch sitting on the wall hundreds of feet above the Hudson River as freight trains passed below and ice melted off the face of Storm King Mountain creating a pleasant tricking sound. I'm not sure if we missed a turn entering Newburgh but I would have liked it if the route had brought us through the more historic part of the city. Other than that, perfect early spring ride!

Damon, June 2008:

Rode the Beacon/Bear Mountain Bridge loop yesterday (30 June 2008) and it was awesome. My wife and I live on West Point so we just started at our house, and no variation was needed. 218 out of the Washington gate is beautifully scenic, and just slightly hilly. Crossing the bridge is a blast. 9D is always nice, and just a little hillier than the other side.

There is an open market in Beacon right at the waterfront on Sundays (not sure about other days) and we stopped for some fresh fruit, but we were a little too early at 8:30. There is a park trailhead in Beacon that was right at 20 miles, so we took a break and bought some more water at a tiny little convenient store (Joe's Sandwiches or something). The remainder of 9D was great. Some short, steep climbs. My original plan of conquering Bear Mt. had lost it's appeal (we were tired, and it was HOT!) so we just took 9W/218 through Highland Falls to the Stoney Lonesome gate (a steep climb) and home.

Sue, June 2008:

The Bear Mt Newburgh Beacon Bridge Loop was a great ride. Three of us rode it on June 15. I'd called the West Point Visitor's Center the day before and been told that they weren't letting anyone through without military ID. So we did Variation D and got some good hills. When we got to Washington Gate, we asked the guard whether we could ride through and he said not without military ID. So we continued on to 218 which was a beautiful stretch high above the Hudson River. We got to Shore Rd. and this is where I would advise cyclists to have a more detailed map with them. We ended up bypassing the exit for River Rd. and ended up the rest of the journey on 9W to the bridge which, to say the least, was not scenic in the least and pretty urban. Next time, we'll bring a local map! But all in all it was a gorgeous ride with some challenges.

Greg, August 2007:

The ride went very well. I called West Point the day before and got permission to ride through. It didn't take too much convincing, but I had to ask for someone in charge (that was the desk sargeant). Apparently they were aware of your route and had been contacted in the past for the same reason. When we got to the checkpoint, the guard needed to see a government issued I.D. A valid driver's license was all they needed. As far as road traffic, it was tolerable, but we had a lot of experience on high traffic roads before. That said, there was plenty of shoulder to bike on for just about the entire ride. As you know there were two difficult but very doable hills- through West Point, and right after West Point. We also wanted to add more mileage to get to 50, so we did about an 8-9 mile extension in Beacon that went through Fishkill. Having started the ride in Garrison, once we got over the Newburgh bridge and started down 9-D, we turned left on Main Street. By the way there's a good natural food store about a half mile on the left. We took Main street until it turned northward and made a right on North Street over Fishkill Creek. Then East Main Street to East Washington which becomes Washington Avenue. Then left on Maple and left on Old Glenham Road. Right on Route 36 (Red Schoolhouse Road) and left on 9-D. 

Mike, August 2007:

Just did that route today, loved it, thanks, however, when doing the West Point bypass, Variation D, a Mine Road sign said Road Closed 3 miles ahead, I went anyway and was met by machine gun toting cadets on patrol at a road block. They were OK and let me through but not sure everyone would have the same luck.

Michael 2C, June 2007:

My wife and I asked a friend to join us & try your cue sheets on a glorious Saturday, June 30, 1997. We are veterans of nine Backroads and Butterfield Robinson bicycling vacations but just discovered your website. We planned on getting off Metro North at Cold Spring giving us the option to return to NYC from the Beacon Station if we ran into any delays. I called West Point the Friday before and asked if we could ride through and I was told only with permission in advance and only if you were a bike club. My suggestions: Don't bother to try and enter West Point. We were turned away at the gate and told this was a military base. Only military ID permitted. We turned around and went up 218N (Mountain Ave) to 9D to 218N. (nowhere does it say that 218N is Storm King Highway). Not that bad although the 55MPH speed limit sign was alarming. Road traffic was not bad. Cues sheets were flawless. Always bring an Orange County Hagstrom road map.

Always get off at Cold Spring if coming from NYC because it is a shorter and cheaper ride on Metro North. It is foolish to start the ride at Beacon. Nice toilets at the exit of Cold Spring station. Road conditions were perfect. A great ride.

KenR, April 2007:

Sharon rode the route on our tandem on a pleasant weekend day. We started early morning in Newburgh, rode across the bridge (with sun in our eyes), and down to Cold Spring, where we met Tony for breakfast, and then members of the Westchester and Mid-Hudson bicycle clubs. We rode across the Bear Mt bridge (then skipped our usual loop around Hessian Lake) and continued north to Highland Falls where the club riders re-grouped by the Thayer Gate for West Point USMA.

The clubs had arranged in advance with USMA to be permitted to ride through as a group. After a few minutes an escort vehicle arrived, and we rode thru the West Point campus and exited out Washington gate -- with the vehicle following behind the slowest riders. We couldn't stop to savor the great views over the river, but we did see the wonderful view north, and we got to wave at lots of cadets riding in vehicles going the other direction on the road thru the campus.

Next we enjoyed the big views along the Storm King Mountain Highway, then the Newburgh waterfront, across the Newburgh-Beacon bridge (again), and had lunch with Tony in Beacon.

Road conditions:

  • at last the section of Rt 9D on the southeast side of Beacon is being repaved -- already much better than last time.

  • No problems crossing either bridge.

June 2004, KenR:

Sharon and I met Tom and his friend Bill in Beacon in early afternoon on a pleasant Friday and it was a fun time.

  • West Point campus (USMA): The guard did not permit us to ride thru.

  • Traffic: Lots more motor vehicles on Friday afternoon + evening than on Saturday or Sunday morning like I've always done it before.

  • Conditions: Some construction on the Bear Mt Bridge, so there was a section with no shoulder, but then the rest had the usual nice wide shoulder. Rt 9D at the south end of the City of Beacon is still broken up and in great need of re-paving for a mile or so.

  • Daylight: We still had plenty of daylight at the finish, and they had not yet closed the sidewalk on the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge before we got there.

October 2003, Mike LaRosa:

Rode the Newburgh-Beacon loop today in cold rainy fall conditions. Nice ride! We did it in reverse order (counterclockwise loop, instead of clockwise) so that it gave us more options to bail out early if we got tired. We did indeed bail out once we got to the Garrison train station.

We figured we'd try out riding through West Point... they actually did let us in through the gate, so we rode through. Some of the best views on the ride are from within West Point, so it's worth a shot!

July 2003, Michael

Just did this ride Saturday, 7/5. Forget about riding through West Point, so just take the Mine Road option to bypass the Academy.

The Newburgh waterfront has a few nice open air restaraunts for apre biking, and the new Dia - Beacon art museum is worth stopping in (right next to the Beacon train station), especially if it's hot outside - the entire space is air-conditioned.

April 2003, Ken Roberts on NYC.bicycles discussion:   

Sharon and I took advantage of the sunny weather to ride a loop around the Bear Mt and Newburgh-Beacon bridges (clockwise). We had a rather fun day, even though it was colder and windier than we expected.

  • Bear Mountain summit climb: Perkins Memorial Drive was gated at the bottom, so we didn't try making it up the climb.

  • West Point USMA: Given the war situation, we didn't even bother trying to ask permission to ride thru the campus. Instead we rode west on Mine Rd (called "Torne Mine Rd" on its west end at Rt 293). The steep sections in the east part of Mine Rd (and one more in the middle) were not fun, but there was a pretty lake further on -- overall not one of our favorite roads. But riding northeast on Rt 293 toward Storm King was rather pleasant.

  • Storm King Mountain Highway: Excellent condition, fun dips and curves, great views, saw two other riders.

  • Views of the River: very good, because there's still no leaves on the trees.

  • Road conditions: Excellent, except for the usual one-mile section of rough pavement on Rt 9D at the south end of the City of Beacon.

  • train access from NYC: Cold Spring continues to look good for its combination of Metro North train station, and several places for a meal or snack before riding or while waiting for the train to go home.

August 2002 -- we received this E-mail from two riders

We combined the "Bear Mt -- Newburgh-Beacon Loop" with a trip from and back to Croton Falls. We would rate this route very highly. The roads were mostly good, the views were good and the traffic was moderate.  

We came from Croton Falls via Route 35, to Route 6, to Route 47, to Route 301.  With minor variations, we came back along the same route.  The total distance traveled was 94 miles, and while we both considered the route hard, we thought it was spectacular.  We traveled next lakes and reservoirs much of the time and had a pleasant ride through the Fahnestock State Park.  If the "Bear Mt" route was 2700 vertical feet, then the route to and from must have added, at least, 3000 to 4000 vertical feet.  Both of us are fairly experienced, reasonably fit, riders and we were giddy with the effort by mile 85.  This is a spectacular and highly recommended route to the "Bear Mt" route.  

The highlights for us were the bridges and Route 218, which winds through a hilly section over looking the river. 

Special note should be made that the gate to West Point was closed, and we suspect that it will be closed permanently. Rather than adding too much mileage to an already ambitious ride, we chose not to ride on the alternate and rode down 9W instead. This is not a recommended alternate. It is a four-lane highway.

All and all, the "Bear Mt" route gets five stars from us.  We believe that
there may be many ways to add to the route.

November 2001, Ken Roberts:  Sharon and I started at Bear Mountain State Park on a perfect fall day.  

When we reached the Thayer gate of the West Point campus on our tandem bicycle, the guard politely told us that we could not ride into the campus, because of security concerns related to the terrorism situation and Afghanistan fighting. 

So we went back south a little into Highland Falls and climbed west up some side streets, then turned south (I think on West St) to meet Mountain Avenue (Route 218).  We kept climbing up this to the top -- most of this section felt to me like it had a reasonable lane-and-shoulder width and visibility.  (From another exploration of Mountain Ave I had remembered some narrower and curvier stuff on the lower section that we bypassed.)  

At the top we met Route 9W and rode north on that to Route 218.  Most of the North-bound shoulder had nice pavement and felt wide enough so we felt comfortable riding in it.  There were some sections of the Rt 9W shoulder that we avoided because they had been formed into a drainage gully.  But the lanes of Route 9W were wide enough and the traffic light enough so we felt reasonably comfortable riding on the right side of the right lane through those sections. 

The descent on Route 218 North past Washington gate and Thayer gate was pleasant, an so was the ride up to the Storm King Mountain viewpoint over the Hudson river. 

We met a cadet out running who said that they had heightened the security of the West Point campus in the last day or so -- not surprising that they wouldn't let us in. 

When we got to Newburgh, we saw that the waterfront had been improved a lot since last year.  The view is a lot better from removing some old buildings, lots of parking, and several restaurants by the river. 

We crossed the river to Beacon, bypassed the train station, and that section of Rt 9D was nice.  Then that one section of Rt 9D just before the south border of the city is still bad -- but all the rest of Rt 9D to Bear Mountain Bridge had very nice pavement. 

It was too bad we missed the nice views through the West Point campus, but it's still a great ride. 

June 2000, Ken Roberts:  Sharon and I started at Bear Mountain State Park this time, on a hot and humid day.  Some construction going through the West Point campus, but not a problem for us.  We checked out the washout on the Storm King Mountain Highway (see Condition Reports) -- and managed to get our tandem around it with some creative lifting and rolling.  The ride across the Newburgh-Beacon was pleasant as always, though the humidity didn't make for the best views.

In Beacon, we discovered that the abandoned bridge over Fishkill Creek was seriously blockaded (see Condition Reports).  So we headed north to Route 9D and took that the rest of the way through the city of Beacon.  Then we discovered what we had been missing for all those years we took the abandoned bridge:  a mile or two of unpleasantly rough road surface.  But the rest of Route 9D to the Bear Mt Bridge was just fine, and the availability of the nice southbound shoulder as needed made us feel comfortable riding despite the traffic.  Crossing the Bear Mt Bridge was pleasant, with the usual nice views. 

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