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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
-- 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
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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