Bear Mountain State Park is closed due to damage from a heavy rainstorm and flash floods on Sunday, July 9th. The storm’s epicenter landed near West Point, NY, where as much as 9 inches of rain fell in less than six hours – an unprecedented amount that overwhelmed local infrastructure and landscapes.
There was tragic loss of life and destruction in nearby towns, and the floods caused significant damage in nearby Palisades Parks and closed the Appalachian Trail.
Thanks to the rapid response from first responders and park rangers, more than a dozen hikers and Bear Mountain Park users were rescued during the storm, including a pair who had sustained serious injuries. A hazardous diesel gas spill was nearly avoided thanks to quick work by crews from New York State Parks and the Department of Environmental Conservation.
Crews are still assessing damage, and have been working to repair and restore washed out sections of the Palisades Interstate Parkway; Route 9W and the Popolopen Bridge; Route 6; Seven Lakes Drive; and Route 218 / Storm King Highway.
Flooding and water over-topping the dam at Queensboro Lake affected the Queensboro Water Treatment Plant, which provides water to Bear Mountain’s buildings and facilities. The park has been without running water since the storm, water trucks are currently supplying water to the animals at the Trailside Zoo.
Many popular trails were washed out and seriously damaged, including large sections of the Appalachian trail; Suffern-Bear Mountain trail; 1777 trail; Popolopen Creek trails and “Hell Hole Bridge; Doodletown trails; and the Cornell Mine Trail and Bridge.
Several park buildings need to be rebuilt or repaired, including the Bear Mountain State Park’s maintenance garage, carpenter’s shop, and plumber’s shop. The Bear Mountain Pool bathhouse also sustained some damage.
Park staff hope that Bear Mountain State Park will be able to reopen to the public soon, once running water is restored. Many trails and roads will remain closed, and the Bear Mountain Pool will not reopen this season.
The Park is working with Federal and State authorities to secure recovery funds for infrastructure. The Palisades Parks Conservancy is raising funds for trail restoration and repairs to damaged facilities. You can make a donation here.
Photo, from above, provided: Bear Mountain State Park Road damage; Appalachian Trail bridge damage in Bear Mountain State Park; and damage to Bear Mountain State Park carpenter’s shop.