Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences Washington DC Historic Map

Bear Mountain and the Appalachian Trail

Bear Mountain State Park incorporates the first historical section of the renowned Appalachian Trail (AT). Due to its proximity to New York City , the park accommodates up to 3 million visitors annually. This results in overuse and degradation along this section of the AT.

View from Bear Mountain

The students of the Rutgers Landscape Architecture department were approached by the New York New Jersey Trail Conference (NYNJTC) to redesign this portion of the AT as a permanent sustainable route. At the same time the students offered a new integrative overall design for the park. Rutgers students completed this work as part of Junior Level Design studio.  They gathered data during visits to the area and used advanced mapping technologies. 

The project is a collaborative effort of different organizations including the NYNJTC, ATC, Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC) and the National Park Service (NPS), who are prepared to use the students' work to implement a permanent trail route and redesign of the park. Work on the trail is expected to start in 2005 and will last for approximately five years.


Process: All the steps and procedures that were completed throughout this process are clearly documented.

Site Analysis: Charette 1 To learn about the of the entire site of Bear Mountain an inventory and analysis these pieces was conducted in order to become familiar with every element of the site under consideration for redesign. Specific elements such as culture, aesthetics, and history were studied and discussed in this first charette.

Site Design: Charette 2 The designs that were created for the possible rerouting of the Appalachian Trail and redesign of Bear Mountain were based on 6 different themes: a Great Escape, a volunteer oriented site, an ecotourism based site, a novice design, a design based on accessibility, and an educationally focused design. All designs were presented and reviewed at this second charette.

Final Design: After exploring the strengths and weaknesses of each design theme, the assets of each design were synthesized into one final design.

Photo Gallery: The photo gallery captures pictures and views of Bear Mountain that can be seen from different locations on the trails and the summit of the mountain. All photos displayed were taken by the students or faculty involved in the redesign of Bear Mountain.

Media: Several newspaper articles have been written about the redesign of Bear Mountain that the Rutgers Juniors in the Landscape Architecture Program have participated in.

Links: There are many different groups and organizations that are involved in the redesign process of Bear Mountain. These organizations include the Palisades Interstate Parks Commision, NY/NJ Trail Conference, and Appalachian Trail Conference. All these committees can be found through the links attached to this site.


Trail Signage



Useful Links