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Most Popular Areas of Harriman and Bear Mountain

Where are the most crowded parts of the park?

For those who are trying to escape the crowds of the city parks and beaches, and find solitude in the woods, the question is a simple one: What are the least-crowded areas of Harriman State Park?  How do you avoid the crush of cars you see streaming off the Palisades Parkway, on the way to Bear Mountain?

‘I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.’  -Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Three areas of Harriman see the most traffic on the summer weekends.  These are Bear Mountain State Park (the main parking areas surrounding the Inn, and the top of Bear Mountain and Perkins Memorial Drive); Lake Welch beach area, and the trails leaving from Reeves Meadow Visitor Center on Seven Lakes Drive, including Pine Meadow Lake.

See the map below that shows these Harriman “hotspots”.

Hiker from Outdoor Action is surrounded by green vegatation on the way to Bald Rocks shelter in Harriman State Park.

A hiker from Princeton’s Outdoor Action wades through the early-summer vegetation on the way to Bald Rocks Shelter in Harriman State Park.


The Lesser Crowds, and No Crowds at All

Smaller crowds may be found at the Silvermine Picnic Area and Tiorati Circle; the lot at Lake Askoti and Skannatati also fills up on the weekends.

What all these areas have in common is ample and obvious parking, a network of easily-accessible trails, and quick access to a lake.

So to really get away from it all, get a map and find your way to the lesser-used parking areas and lakes.

Try the far north corner of the park, the little parking area at Barnes Lake, Te Ata and Massawippa.  Hike to Green Pond and explore the Valley of the Boulders, or divert along the secretive unmarked trail to the Stahahe High Peak.   Walk along the Long Path to Cohasset Shelter, or for a bracing, steep climb to an incredible view and makeshift monument to soldiers, take on the Popolopen Torne by parking partway up the mountain, along Mine Road.

If you like the lakes, explore First, Second and Third Reservoirs instead of crowded Tiorati and Welch.  Second Reservoir especially has nice spots for a picnic and isn’t too much of a hike in.  Park along Route 75 between Harriman and Cheescote Mountain.

Welcome to Harriman State Park sign

Part of the pleasure of exploring Harriman State Park is discovering ways to escape the crowds, and making it your own.


Avoid these three hotspots in Harriman to escape the crowds. You’ll see the cars streaming into the beach areas at Lake Welch, and the parking lots of Reeves Meadow and Bear Mountain.

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