Technically, this hike is in Westchester but you start in Putnam.
Distance: 2.02 miles
Skill Level: moderate to difficult
Elevation Gain: 600′
Type of Hike: out-and-back
Trail Condition: rocky
Wow Factor: the view from the top
Note: street parking
How to get there: Go north on 9D from the 202/Bear Mountain Bridge intersection. In less than half a mile, you will see the sign for Putnam County and then the Kiosk a little way up the hill. Find anywhere on either side to pull completely off the road and watch for oncoming traffic as you get out and walk to the trail head. Parking and traffic can be busy on weekends.
Summary: From the Kiosk, head straight up…and up and up. You will be following the white markers of the Appalachian Trail for almost half a mile…a painfully slow half mile.
You will come to the intersection with the continuing white trail and the blue trail to the right. Hang right on the wide road-like path that has a much more gradual climb. Follow the blue Camp Smith trail the rest of the first mile (don’t wander off the path as Camp Smith is an active military base and don’t take to trespassers).
There are no blazes to mark where the summit veers right but you will see the well worn path. Walk around a little hill and you will be hit with some amazing views of Bear Mountain State Park–you can see the ice rink,Inn, carousel, Hessian Lake–Bear Mountain Bridge, Iona Island to the left.
There is no railing so keep the littles far from the edge but there are some nice flat spots on the rocks to take a break and have a snack while taking in the views. You are very unlikely to have the top of the rock to yourself. To return, retrace your steps back to the blue trail, go left. Make a left when you dead end at the white trail. There is no safe place to hang out at the bottom of the trail.
This is one of the harder hikes I’ve done babywearing and I don’t recommend it for beginners. The entirety of the white trail is straight up with very few flat or downhill sections but the views make it worth it.
You can make this hike longer by parking at the Toll House down on 202 or the small parking lot in between, both are much longer.