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Catskill Fire Towers


Submitted By Michael Virdone

The Mountains & Stats

15 miles with 3900 feet of gain
  • Overlook (3140 Feet, NY) globe Mountain
  • Red Hill (2990 Feet, NY) globe Mountain
  • Tremper (2740 Feet, NY) globe Mountain

People On The Trip

Trip Report

     Nicole and I continued our fire tower challenge quest hiking Overlook, Tremper, and Red Hill. The plan was initially crafted when Nicole's father wanted to go hiking with us, we suggested Red Hill due to the fact that it was an easy hike for her family, and a fire tower we needed. We woke up Saturday and were on the road before 8am. We headed from Syracuse to Albany on the most boring stretch of the thruway, eventually getting off 87 near Woodstock. The markings on the local roads gave me a bit of difficulty finding the trailhead (I didn't write the directions too clearly either). Eventually we were at the Overlook parking are. There we met a group of "hardcore" mountain bikers who were riding up to the top and then down the other side (does any one know the legality of this? I'd be interested in doing it myself if it's allowed).

      Overlook Mountain (~5 mi ~1400 feet gain)

      We began the climb and were surprised to find that it is practically a paved road to the top. The climb was fairly uninteresting however we were able to see some nice views through the trees. Eventually we reached the abandoned hotel (cool but creepy). From there we had a quick climb to the summit. The summit area is a really nice rocky area with a cabin, privy, tower, a few picnic tables, and a fire ring. We climbed the tower and soaked in the views of the Hudson valley and the Catskills. After descending the tower we went over to the lookout ledges and enjoyed the views for a little while. The descent went really fast (we actually ran in a few places). We made awesome time on this trip, completing it car to car in 2:15.

      Tremper Mountain (~7.8 mi ~1500+ feet gain)

      After overlook we drove to the Tremper willow "trailhead" unfortunately I didn't read the book too carefully and found out that you had to ask the landowners if you could park on their property. I asked one house and they graciously said yes. We began the climb which followed a dirt road for a quarter mile before turning up the trail across private property. We climbed at a moderate pace though we were slowed by the leaves obscuring where we would place our feet. The climb up the shoulder of the mountain is pretty interesting walking on an old horse path that is cut into the steep slope of the hill. At the trail junction we caught a bit of a surprise, it turns out the fire tower guides mileage is incorrect, we had hiked 1.6 + .2 miles to the trail junction only to find out that we had 2.1 more miles to go. We were expecting a one way distance of 3.2 miles as per the guide, so the extra distance caught us by surprise. The trail on the ridge to the summit of Tremper is getting overgrown with brambles and thorns, this combined with the extra mileage really put a damper on our afternoon hike. We gradually descended into the col and then began the somewhat steep climb to the summit plateau. After what seemed like an eternity we reached the tower (with leanto nearby). My leg began to bother me because of the fast pace we were setting throughout the day so we decided to take it easy heading back to the car.

      Once at the car we decided it was too early to go to bed (6ish) so rather than head to our campsite we went to Kingston to find a hot dinner. After getting some junk food we headed to the Sundown sites described in this thread (http://www.adkhighpeaks.com/forums/showthread.php?t=4636). We found the sites easily with the description provided in the thread. Not knowing that there were additional camping areas past the trailer field we stayed there since it was what we saw first. I have trouble sleeping in the cold so I was concerned with the overnight low being below freezing. luckily we had an uber-comfortable night in our car camping tent. We both laid our our therm-a-rests, then we laid a rectangular sleeping bag across the two pads. then we each put our 20* mummy bag inside of another rectangular bag. Needless to say, we were both quite toasty throughout the night (and it was quite hard for us to get out of the bags the next morning).

      The next morning we woke up, since Nicole's father wasn't planning on arriving at the trailhead until 10am we had plenty of time to go get some breakfast and scope out a place for a post hike lunch. We drove into Ellenville and got some great breakfast sandwiches at a deli in town. From there we drove back to the trailhead and waited for Nicole's family to arrive.

      Red Hill (~2.8 mi ~950 feet gain)

      Once everyone arrived and suited up we began our hike. For a change we took a nature pamphlet from the trail register and stopped at each numbered point. The trail starts off gradually, eventually it crosses into an area that was a former farm field. The trail turns left off an old woods road and begins to climb more steeply. after a short time you're at the summit with a cabin, picnic table, and the tower. We descended, got changed, and headed back into town where we got a great Italian food lunch from the place in the Shop Rite plaza on 209 (Il Paridsio or something). From there we said our goodbyes and headed home.

      Another great weekend of hiking

The Good and The Bad

The Good:

The views
Easy hike up Overlook

The Bad:

The trail on the ridge of Tremper
Getting the wrong distance and elevations for tremper

The Drive

A good sampling of the catskills


  • Fire Tower Book (Views from on High - ADK)
  • NYNJTC Catskill Maps
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