On July 17th, the New York State Bridge Authority teamed up with the Orange County of Commerce to offer a family-friendly “Wellness Walking Tour” of the Bear Mountain Bridge, during the bridge’s 95th anniversary year. Attendees took part in a unique, behind-the-scenes tour of the Bear Mountain and Popolopen Creek pedestrian bridge.
They also learned about the parallels between preventive health and preventive maintenance. Just as healthy practices can lead to a long life for a person, routine maintenance of our spans can help a structure like the Bear Mountain Bridge reach the age of 95, while maintaining the highest safety rating for a bridge of its age.
The public is welcome to walk on the Bear Mountain Bridge pedestrian path and experience one of the earliest sections of the Appalachian Trail. There are interpretive panels along the path to help educate about the history and engineering of the span.
For a unique view of the Bear Mountain Bridge, you can explore the same route that our walking tour took. We cut through the Trailside Museum complex and stopped at an overlook, which gives a nice view of the understructure of the Bear Mountain Bridge. (Here is a Google maps link to the location.)
From there, you can take the Twin Forks Trail down to the Popolopen Creek pedestrian bridge. Please note that the gate to get from the Trailside Museum to this trail is locked every evening.
Down at the creek, there is a pedestrian suspension bridge constructed in 2002. The bridge marks the location of a pontoon bridge which once existed in the Revolutionary War era between Fort Montgomery and Fort Clinton. Today, hikers can use the trail and the bridge to walk between Bear Mountain State Park and Fort Montgomery State Historic Site, as well as get a scenic look at the creek and the Bear Mountain Bridge.
The Bear Mountain Bridge Museum is open by special request for group visits. Those visits are handled by the New York State Bridge Authority’s nonprofit partner, Historic Bridges of the Hudson Valley. Groups can contact firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a visit.