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Perched high above the
Valley ontop of Bear Mountain in Bear Mountain State
Park is an impressive 40 foot tall stone lookout tower.
The tower was built in 1931-34 and dedicated as the
Perkins Memorial Tower to honor former Chairman of
the Palisades Interstate Park Commission. Of the many
locations in the lower Hudson Valley to get a panoramic
overview of this historically important stretch of
the river, this is possibly the very best.
From the tower itself,
and the surrounding grounds, you have an unimcumbered
360° view south to New York City, east to Connecticut,
north to Mount Beacon and west to the Shawangunks.
A stunning vista.
However, the best view
isn't directly from the tower or the frequently visitor
choked viewing areas surrounding the tower. When you
leave the tower itself and are driving back down the
road, just past the tower parking area, don't follow
the "exit" sign, instead take the road that
leads off to the right and down hill. This road will
take you out onto the eastern face of Bear Mountain.
You will come upon a parking area that can accommodate
about 10 cars, on the valley side of the road. Pull
From here, you have an
uniterrupted view of the river from the "South
Gate" where the river passes out of the Highlands,
(on the right), all the way up to where the river
dissappears behind West Point, (on the left). Between
these two landmarks is the most strategically important
location in the history of America. This piece of
river determined who won the American Revolution.
By protecting and holding this strategically critical
section of the river, Gen. Washington was able to
prevent the British from seizing control of the Hudson
and splitting the colonies. This segment of the river
is what Washington called the "key to the continent."
Below you, toward the
left, where the Bear Mountain Bridge meets the west
bank of the river, are the locations of Forts Clinton
and Montgomery. Roughly where the bridge is located
is where the first chain and boom across the Hudson
were anchored to prevent British ships from sailing
up the river. In the far distance to the left is West
Point, where the Colonial armies erected impressive
fortifications and battlements and held the British
at bay. To the right, out beyond the "South Gate",
around the corner of the river to the right is Stony
Point, location of a famous Patriot victory against
From the "South Gate",
up the river past West Point is what was known to
the Colonial armies as "Fortress West Point,"
a series of fortifications, river obstructions, and
redoubts. After the loss of Forts Clinton & Montgomery
in October of 1777, the Americans fortified and strenghtened
this area and never again allowed the British to proceed
north up the river from New York City.