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Hiking in Catskill Park

Overlook Mtn
Wild Forest

Overlook Mountain Fire Tower

 

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Overlook Mountain is surely one of the most interesting in all of the Catskills. Its close proximity to Woodstock has made it a popular destination for tourists. Although the Overlook Mountain Wild Forest only covers 590 acres, its rocky slopes make for a very interesting day hike. In addition to providing a habitat for the timber rattlesnake, a protected species that only lives in one other area of the Catskills, the summit is covered with red oaks (trees usually found on lower slopes and in valleys, not 3,100 feet above sea level), and some red spruce/balsam fir trees (those typical over 3,300 feet).

In 1871, the Overlook Mountain House opened its doors to guests, joining numerous others in the Catskills. This hotel had the distinction of being the highest, at 2,920 feet. The Mountain House could house 300 guests and, despite burning down twice, prospered until around the time of the stock market crash. In the following years, it was rebuilt (but never opened to guests) and eventually looted and abandoned, leaving the ruins that can still be seen along the trail.

The open ledges around Overlook's summit and exposed bedrock along the trail offer many clues about the geologic history of the Catskills. An open, south-facing rock ledge just prior to reaching the tower, offers some of the most spectacular views of how the Hudson Valley abruptly changes into the Catskill Mountains. One trip up Overlook and you will realize why this mountain was the focus of many works by famous Hudson River School painters in the 1800s.

The tower on Overlook Mountain (elevation 3,140 feet) is the newest of the five remaining fire towers in the Catskill Park, having been at its present location since only 1950. However, the tower itself is much older as it was originally constructed in 1927 on Gallis Hill, just west of Kingston. The Overlook tower reaches 60' in height, and offers incredible views of the Hudson River valley, the Ashokan Reservoir, and the Devil's Path.

Trailhead on Meads Mountain Road
(Red-blazed Overlook Spur Trail)

The Overlook Mountain Fire Tower can be reached from two different directions. The most popular route (shown below) begins at the trailhead of the red-blazed Overlook Spur Trail along Meads Mountain Road, about 2 miles outside of the village of Woodstock. This 2.4-mile-long trail ends at the summit of Overlook Mountain. after hiking 1.6 miles, you will pass by the ruins of the Overlook Mountain House.

Travelling West on NY 28 towards Pine Hill - Proceed to hamlet of West Hurley, located east of Glenford and west of Kingston. Turn right onto NY 375 and follow until its end. Turn left on NY 212 towards Woodstock. In the village, turn right (north) onto Rock City Road, continue straight through the intersection (with County Route 33) onto Meads Mountain Road. Go approximately 1.5 miles up the mountain. After the road levels off, the trailhead and parking are on the right.

Travelling East on NY 28 towards Kingston - Proceed to hamlet of Mount Tremper, located east of Phoenicia and west of Boiceville. Turn left onto NY 212 and follow through Bearsville and into Woodstock. In the village, turn left (north) onto Rock City Road, continue straight through the intersection (with County Route 33) onto Meads Mountain Road. Go approximately 1.5 miles up the mountain. After the road levels off, the trailhead and parking are on the right.

 

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