LAKE LUZERNE, N.Y. – Local lore is that the area of the Hudson River Recreation Area known as the “Bear Slides” got the moniker because a mother black bear and cubs were seen frolicking and sliding on the smooth rocks of Buttermilk Brook one day decades ago.
While that might give some bear-phobic people pause, there is little chance a daytime hike to the Bear Slides will lead to a bear encounter. Instead, visitors will find an easy trail that follows the brook upstream to a section where it tumbles over large smooth rocks.
Summer visitors will use a variety of tubes or mats to slide when water levels are conducive, but a walk to see the woods and natural phenomena are what brings us to this well-traveled trail on New York State land in the Lake George Wild Forest.
A stroll to the area where the slides can be found adds up to a little less than a half-mile each way, though there are several options to make it a longer hike on the abundant state land around the trail. On the day we visited in November 2020, we followed the Bear Slides trail northeast to its end, where it intersected with an old dirt road.
We followed that road, which doubles as a snowmobile trail in the winter, northwest back to River Road, finding some neat New York State campsites as we walked, and headed south to our parking area on River Road to complete a loop that amounted to about 3.2 miles.
There are some neat features along the way.
An impressive beaver dam has created a large pond behind the brook above the Bear Slides. As you walk back to River Road, some of the campsites provide views of the Hudson River.
This hike is a good one for families with young children, particularly on a warm day to play in the pools of the brook. But be careful on the slide, as the rocks can be so slippery a bear could slide around on them!
Location: River Rd, Warrensburg
Parking and Directions:
Take the Northway to Exit 21. Turn south on NY-9N towards Lake Luzerne for 7.1 miles. Turn right onto Old Stage Rd for 1.5 miles. Turn left onto Thomas Rd for 1.7 miles. Turn right onto River Rd. Pass the first parking area and park in the second parking area, on the right. You’ll see a small house shaped sign with a “6” on it, next to a rock with a red trail marker. This is the trailhead.
Google Maps directions
Trailhead Coordinates: -73 52.8 43 24.06
More information at NYSDEC website
Things to Do Nearby: Bear Slides is part of the Hudson River Recreation Area, which offers numerous primitive camping locations, as well as access to about twelve miles of river frontage for swimming, picnicking, boating and tubing. The hamlet of Lake Luzerne, offering shopping, dining, and museums, is nearby.