Its summit, accessible by a paved road, has several roadside viewpoints, a picnic area and observatory, the Perkins Memorial Tower. It is crossed by several hiking trails as well, including the oldest section of the Appalachian Trail. The AT across Bear Mountain is currently being rebuilt and realigned by the New York - New Jersey Trail Conference to minimize erosion and improve accessibility and sustainability.
The steep eastern face of the mountain overlooks the Hudson River. The eastern side of the mountain consists of a pile of massive boulders, often the size of houses, that culminate in a 50-foot (15 m) cliff face at approximately the 1,000 foot level. A direct scramble from the shore of Hessian Lake to Perkins Memorial Drive on the summit requires a gain of about 1,000 feet in roughly 0.8 miles
Late in July 1921, Franklin Roosevelt visited a Boy Scout camp at Hessian Lake on the eastern edge of Bear Mountain. Two weeks later, on August 11, Roosevelt developed a paralytic illness, either polio or Guillain-Barré syndrome (See Franklin D. Roosevelt's paralytic illness for more information). There is no information whether any cases of polio or of infections that might trigger Guillain-Barré syndrome occurred in the camp.
Babe Ruth negotiated his contracts with the Yankees in the Bear Mountain Inn in the 1920s.
Bear Mountain was once the premier ski jumping site in the United States. Because of its notoriety as a ski jumping location, Bear Mountain was considered as a possible site for the 1932 Winter Olympics, which were held in Lake Placid, New York. The ski jump run has not been used since 1990, and its stone steps built into the eastern side of the mountain are now crumbling.
What had been a tragic accident took a surprising turn two days later when New York State Park Police arrested Han on felony charges of promoting a suicide attempt and two counts apiece of first-degree reckless endangerment of a child and endangering the welfare of a child.. Investigators said that Han had been having an affair with a younger woman who worked at his engineering firm and that his wife had been expressing suicidal ideations over it immediately prior to the stop. His neighbors and friends in Staten Island's Korean-American community expressed disbelief.
On March 28, 2007, Victor Han pleaded guilty in Rockland County Court to child endangerment, admitting that he knew his wife was putting herself and their children in danger when he left the vehicle. "He did this to get the case over, and not to force the family to go through the trauma (of a trial)," according to defense attorney Lawrence Goldman.