FKT: Matt Moschella - Suffern - Bear Mountain Trail (NY) - 2021-04-18

Route variation
out & back
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
10h 55m 44s
GPS track(s)

Went out on Sunday for an unsupported attempt on the Suffern - Bear Mountain trail out and back. I have a less-than-stellar history with this trail. I attempted this out and back last year, but it ended disastrously with massive dehydration in a total time of 14 hours or so. I also ran it one way (S to BM) a few weeks ago and generally felt like crap the entire time, with significant nutrition issues and cramping, finishing in 5:15ish. I was starting to fear that this trail is cursed for me, but fortunately, the stars aligned this time, at least somewhat.

I started at the Suffern end at around 7:30 am. Weather was cool, cloudy, and dry, the trail conditions were excellent, and the water sources were plentiful. I was initially feeling a bit sluggish and kept my effort very relaxed on the opening climb out of Suffern, but once I got on top of the ridge I started feeling pretty good and was running at a good clip most of the way to the Palisades (3:00). The 7.5 miles north of the Palisades is definitely the toughest section of the trail with lots of short steep ups and downs. It took its toll but I rolled into Bear Mountain with a surprisingly quick split (4:48 -- a one way PR for me). I was still feeling pretty solid at this point but knew there was a long way to go, so, turning around, I walked and refueled from the Bear Mountain end to Seven Lakes Drive. From there, I managed to keep a decent pace until reaching the Palisades again (7:00). Fatigue was mounting by this point. I managed to make it back up the ridge but by the time I reached Third Reservoir (8:30) my running legs were pretty much gone. That last 10 miles back to Suffern was not pretty and featured a lot more walking than I would I have preferred, especially given the extremely runnable terrain in that southern section, but I managed to get it done, stumbling down that last descent to Orange Ave in under 11 hours.

All told, I'm pretty satisfied with my performance. I'm not the greatest runner, so a trail like this where the southern 15 miles are super runnable, is not exactly ideal for me. I'm positive that someone can take this under 10 hours, probably even faster.


Approximate Splits:

  1. Southernmost Shelter: 1:10
  2. Third Reservoir: 2:00
  3. Palisades Parkway: 3:00
  4. Bear Mountain: 4:48
  5. Palisades Parkway: 7:00
  6. Third Reservoir: 8:30
  7. Southernmost Shelter: 9:30
  8. Suffern: 10:55