Bear Mountain State Park, Rockland County, NY


One route:

Saw Mill River Parkway to US 287 west over the Tappan Zee Bridge and get off at Exit 13 for the Palisades Interstate Parkway north. Go north to pick up Route 6 east to Bear Mountain traffic circle. Get out of the circle at the Bear Mountain State Park exit. At the light take the left fork heading down 9W south parallel to the Hudson River. Within less than a mile there will be a parking area on your left just after two concrete abutments indicating the bridge over Doodletown Brook. The parking area is on the east side of 9W just north of the entrance to Iona Island. Walk across 9W and pick up the old Doodletown Road marked by a blue blazed Cornell Mine trail uphill by a brown historical marker that mentions the no longer existent town of Doodletown.


The abandoned hamlet of Doodletown lies in a beautiful valley surrounded by Bear Mountain on the north, Bald Mountain and Dunderberg Mountain on the south and southeast, and West Mountain on the west.


(Source: Stalter, Elizabeth "Perk." 1996. Doodletown: Hiking Through History in a Vanished Hamlet on the Hudson. Bear Mountain, NY: Palisades Interstate Park Commission Press.)

The name Doodletown is derived from the Dutch: dood meaning dead and del meaning valley. When the Dutch put into the mouth of Doodletown Brook they may have noticed some aspect of the hollow indicating dead or dying plants or some other aspect that led them to call it Dooddel or Dead Valley. The suffix of town was more than likely added by English settlers.

The settlement was along two roads that crossed each other, making a small "t." What became known as the Caldwell Turnpike ran east to west between Dunderberg Mountain and Iona Island on south and north respectively, then between West Mountain and Bear Mountain on south and north respectively. What became known as Pleasant Valley Road ran south to north between West Mountain and Dunderburg Mountain (on west and east respectively) and then Bear Mountain and Iona Island (on west and east respectively).

The Tomkins family lived in Doodletown.

Ithiel June Jr., who lived in Peekskill, Westchester County, crossed the Hudson River with his wife and settled in Doodletown.

1760's -- June purchased several hundred acres from the Tomkins

During the Revolutionary War, Governor George Clinton, in his report to General Washington on the loss of the forts on Popolopen, said that he, a few hours before the battle, sent a half company out to Doodletown to scout the British advance. The Doodletown Road was also used by troops accompanying Mad Anthony Wayne on his successful attack on Stony Point.

after Rev War -- some in the town were given veterans' bonuses in the form of land grants and they moved out of the area

Historian James M. Ransom says that there was a Herbert Mine that opened in the area before 1859. It was named after the Herbert family of nearby Doodletown, many of whom are buried in the Herbert family cemetery off old Doodletown Road. There was an unidentified mine located about half a mile west-southwest of Doodletown. There was also a Doodletown Mine.

by 1859 -- Mrs. Pell still owned the home on the fort site

by 1859 -- the island now belonged to Dr. E. W. Grant, the son-in-law of John Beveridge and was called both Courtland and Iona Island. Dr. Grant had a large home, a dock, and splendid gardens, as well as an orchard with about a thousand fruit trees. He also was famous for the Iona grapes cultivated on about 20 acres.

After Civil War -- Andrew June returned from the Civil War and donated land for a second June family cemetery (#16).

by 1871 -- three distinct burying grounds.

1876 map -- R. And G. Pell residing in the home on the fort site.

1876 map -- Riding Bridge over Doodletown Brook was completed.

1887 -- Andrew June donated land for a larger one-room school (#14) built near the Riding Bridge.

1889 -- on land donated by Caleb June, a second church constructed at the fork in the center of town (#20).

1890 -- plans proposed for a spiral railroad on Dunderberg Mountain, along with a hotel, a lake, and more. The spiral began, but was not successful.

1891 -- former fort site probably now owned by A. C. Cheney & Co., the proprietors of the ice business (they owned almost all of Bear Mountain, then called Bear Hill).

1890's -- an amusement park was established and Dr. Grant's mansion was used as a hotel. An 1896 map referred to it as the Iona Island Picnic Grove.

By 1893 --  Thomas Edison had purchased or leased 145 mining tracts, including the property at Doodletown. Edison prospected for ore on his Doodletown property. The Edison Mine is located southeast of the Doodletown Reservoir.

1900 -- construction begins on a naval magazine on Iona island. Some of the men boarded with Doodletown families. Early on there was an explosion at the munitions dump and a Doodletown man died.

1900 -- The Palisades Interstate Park Commission created because people were concerned that quarrying would have taken down all the Palisades.

About 1905 -- one-cylinder Cadillac first car in Doodletown

1908 -- the road around Dunderberg's base built

1910 -- establishment of the park's nucleus at Bear Mountain. Johnsontown was acquired by 1915; Baileytown, Queensboro, most of Cedar Flats, Bulsontown, and Jones Point by 1937; and by 1942 all of Sandyfields (Beaver Pond).

1913 -- steamboat excursion service to Bear Mt. established; camping began at Hessian Lake.

1915 -- Bear Mountain Inn completed.

1916 -- bridge over Popolopen Gorge built.

1916 -- remains of the Revolutionary War forts, Clinton and Montgomery, were acquired as historic sites. Bear Mt. now a Mecca for tourists.

1918 -- June-Lemmon property (#15) in Doodletown acquired by Park Commission and used by the family of Park Police Chief William Gee and later by Park Superintendent Raymond Adolph.

1924 -- Bear Mountain Bridge built

1925-1930 -- the many Gray homes and lands acquired by the new park

1927 -- Trailside Museums established.

1932 -- some Herbert land acquired by the park.

1933 -- Perkins Memorial Drive completed.

1934 -- Perkins memorial Tower on Bear Mt. pinnacle built.

1937 -- bridle path constructed in Doodletown entirely surrounding the hamlet.

1937 -- first post office at Bear Mountain opens.

1940 -- some June land acquired by the park.

1965 -- the last remaining Doodletowners left the hamlet.

early 1970s -- dam constructed below merger of Doodletown Brook and the Timp Book that created the present reservoir; the Riding Bridge submerged.


In 1888 Edison invented a method for producing concentrated high-quality magnetite iron ore by crushing and pulverizing large quantities of ore, then using electromagnets to separate the iron particles from waste material, and concentrating the iron into briquettes.

Thomas Edison owned the mine here. Edison's New York Concentrating Works did the mining. In 1890 he purchased almost 200 acres of land on the north slope of Dunderberg Mountain and at the base of Bald Mountain near Doodletown. The mine is located southeast of the Doodletown Reservoir, south of the abandoned Old Turnpike between the blue-blazed Cornell Mine Trail on the east and the Doodletown Bridle Path (now a ski trail) on the west. Following Doodletown Road until it bends sharply to the left. The Bridle Path crosses Doodletown Brook near the Doodletown Reservoir. 750 feet after the Bridle Path passes by the abandoned Old Turnpike (a dirt road). You will find a tailings pile up the hillside to the east of the Bridle Path. (Lenik, 1996:138-141)


The ownership and period of operation of this mine are not known. This mine is located on the northern slope of West Mountain, two-tenths of a mile east of where the yellow-blazed Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail crosses Doodletown Brook. Pass the "9" sign for the ski trail, pass by the 1777E Trail joining from the right, pass the point where the 1777W Trail joins in from the right, follow now the 1777 Trail for three-tenths of a mile and turn right onto the Doodletown Bridal Path at a woods road crossing at a numbered sign; walk three-tenths of a mile and turn left onto an old vaguely visible road just 200 feet before the Bridle Path crosses the Doodletown Brook. Walk another quarter of a mile to the mine where you will see a large tailings pile on the left. Climb the tailings pile to reach an open trench cut into the rock hillside. There is a 26 feet deep cut at the bottom of which is a water-filled shaft. (From: Lenik, 1996:131-132)


Trip with Michael St. John, 11/12/99. You walk on the abandoned asphalt of old Doodletown Road. The blue trail goes off to the right. You will pass a ski trail marked with the number 9. Now you are on the white circle trail of the 1777 east trail. Dam of the Doodletown Reservoir is on the left. There are a lot of marsh plants around the small reservoir, but very few of the typical pond shrubs.

The 1777 west trail comes in from the right.

There is a fork in the road. Doodle town goes off to the right at 310 degrees. We took the left fork known as the Pleasant Valley Road going west.

Ski trail #6 marker indicates the ski trail crossing the path. There is a huge erratic on the hill on the left.

We finally stopped by a brook where the last house in Doodletown south was located. The old garage here is used as a sort of unofficial shelter. We then turned around and went back.

Dr. Patrick L. Cooney and Michael St. John (many I.D.s also by Dr. William F. Standaert)

Acer platanoides (Norway maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Aesculus hippocastanum (horse-chestnut)
Ailanthus altissima (tree of heaven)
Aralia spinosa (Hercules' club)
Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Betula populifolia (gray birch)
Carpinus caroliniana var. virginiana (musclewood)
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
Celtis occidentalis (hackberry)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Pyrus malus (apple)
Morus alba (white mulberry)
Ostrya virginiana (hop-hornbeam)
Paulownia tomentosa (empress-tree)
Picea abies (Norway spruce)
Picea pungens (Colorado blue spruce )
Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Platanus x hybrida (London plane-tree)
Populus grandidentata (big-toothed aspen)
Prunus sp. (P. pensylvanica?--pin cherry)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus palustris (pin oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)
Salix sp. (S. nigra?--black willow)
Salix babylonica (weeping willow)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Tilia americana var. americana (basswood)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)
Ulmus americana (American elm)

Alnus serrulata (smooth alder)
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Cornus amomum (silky dogwood)
Cornus racemosa (gray dogwood)
Cytisus scoparius (Scotch broom)
Forsythia x intermedia (golden bell forsythia) 11/12/99
Hamamelis virginiana (witch-hazel) 11/12/99
Hydrangea sp. (hydrangea)
Ilex crenata (crenate leaved Japanese holly - planted by one grave)
Ilex verticillata (winterberry)
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)
Kolkwitzia amabilis (beauty-bush)
Ligustrum sp. (privet)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Lyonia ligustrina (male-berry)
Mitchella repens (partridgeberry)
Myrica pensylvanica (bayberry)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)
Spiraea tomentosa (steeplebush)
Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (coralberry)
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry)
Vaccinium pallidum (lowbush blueberry)

Celastrus orbiculatus (oriental bittersweet)
Clematis terniflora (clematis, virgin's bower)
Hedera helix (English ivy)
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle)
Vinca minor (periwinkle)
Vincetoxicum nigrum (black swallowwort)
Vitis sp. (grape)
Wisteria floribunda (Japanese wisteria)

Achillea millefolium (yarrow)
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Allium vineale (field-garlic)
Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)
Arabis laevigata var. laevigata (rock-cress)
Arctium minus (common burdock)
Asclepias incarnata var. pulchra (swamp milkweed)
Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)
Aster cordifolius (aster)
Aster lanceolatus (aster)
Belamcanda chinensis (blackberry-lily)
Bidens frondosa (beggar-ticks)
Boehmeria cylindrica (false nettle)
Cerastium vulgatum (mouse-ear chickweed)
Chelidonium majus (celandine)
Cichorium intybus (chicory)
Cirsium discolor (thistle)
Cirsium vulgare (bull thistle)
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace)
Dianthus armeria (Deptford pink)
Erechtites hieraciifolia (fireweed, pilewort)
Euphorbia cyparissias (cypress spurge)
Euthamia graminifolia var. nuttallii (flat-topped goldenrod)
Gnaphalium obtusifolium (sweet everlasting)
Hackelia virginiana (Virginia stickseed)
Hesperis matronalis (dame's rocket)
Hypericum sp. (St. Johnswort)
Hypochoeris radicata (spotted cat's-ear)
Iris versicolor (northern blue flag)
Lespedeza cuneata (Chinese lespedeza)
Lilium sp. (lily)
Linaria vulgaris (butter-and-eggs)
Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife)
Medicago lupulina (black medick)
Melilotus alba (white sweet-clover)
Nepeta cataria (catnip)
Polygonum arifolium (halberd-leaved tearthumb
Polygonum cespitosum (smartweed)
Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)
Potentilla sp. (cinquefoil)
Prunella vulgaris var. lanceolata (self-heal)
Pycnanthemum virginianum (mountain-mint)
Satureja vulgaris (wild basil)
Solidago caesia (blue-stem goldenrod)
Solidago nemoralis var. nemoralis (gray goldenrod)
Sparganium sp. (americanum?) (bur-reed)
Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion)
Tragopogon pratensis (goat's-beard)
Trifolium pratense (red clover)
Typha latifolia (broad-leaved cattail)
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)
Viola sp. (violet)

Juncus effusus (soft rush)
Juncus tenuis (path rush)

Carex lurida (sedge)
Carex stricta (tussock sedge)
Cyperus strigosus (false nutsedge)
Scirpus atrovirens (black bulrush)
Scirpus cyperinus (wool-grass)

Agrostis perennans (autumn bent-grass)
Andropogon virginicus var. virginicus (broom sedge)
Bromus pubescens (brome)
Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Danthonia spicata (poverty oatgrass)
Elymus hystrix (bottlebrush grass)
Glyceria striata var. stricta (fowl mannagrass)
Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt-grass)
Muhlenbergia schreberi (nimblewill)
Panicum clandestinum (deer-tongue, panic-grass)
Panicum dichotomiflorum (panic-grass)
Panicum virgatum (switch grass)
Phalaris arundinacea (canary reed grass)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)
Setaria faberi (nodding foxtail)
Setaria glauca (yellow foxtail)
Tridens flavus (purpletop)

Ferns and Fern Allies:
Equisetum hyemale (common scouring rush)
Asplenium platyneuron (ebony spleenwort)
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Polypodium virginianum (rock cap fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Thelypteris palustris var. pubescens (marsh fern)