Trail Map – from the site, I used the NY NJ Trail conference map
Hike Distance: 6.19 miles
Trails: Red (Phoenicia?)
Mountain: Mt. Tremper
This was hike 1 with the Monmouth County Park Systems on their Fire Tower Challenge. They are running trips to see the six fire towers in the lower Catskills. The challenge description can be found here. While there are five towers on top of mountains, a sixth is right next to the visitor’s center which we drove right by. I suppose, if you live in the area, this is not that bad. Coming from the Jersey shore, this is a bit of a drive, and makes the challenge more interesting. There are trips all throughout the year. Trip 1 was to Mt. Tremper and the visitor center.
The Catskills got snow on Wednesday and Thursday before our trip. The weather called for sun in the morning, with partial clouds in the afternoon. Fortunately, that didn’t happen; it was sunny all day. However, this would be a microspikes day – up and down in microspikes. And, we had snowshoes strapped to our packs. That wasn’t a problem for me, I was testing a new pack. It actually came last Saturday, but I was already out and it was too late to use. I’ll review it down the road after a few more trips. The bottom of the mountain was mostly snow and ice and microspikes definitely helped. As we got higher on the mountain there was more snow – we estimated about eight inches at the top. I never used the snowshoes – I should have, I don’t know when I’ll get the chance again.
Zoom in on the picture of the kiosk. At the lower left you’ll see a warning about timber rattlesnakes. Supposedly, around the 1450 mark there is a quarry to the left of the trail housing a den of almost 100 timber rattlesnakes. During warmer times, the snakes are out on the rocks and trail sunning themselves. Obviously, at this time of year, we didn’t see any. Maybe I’ll come back to check that out.
This would be a relatively easy walk up. The trail follows an old Jeep road up the mountain. There were a couple of steep sections, but not for too long. At the top, with more snow; the snow covered all the rocks we would have had to deal with. Because of the snow we basically walked up a hill. On the way down, the temperatures warmed up to the high 40s and the snow became much softer. The bottom of the mountain became a mud puddle.
The higher we ascended, the more snow we found and the less ice.
Before reaching the top, at around 1.8 miles, you will come to the Baldwin shelter (and privy.) Just above the shelter is a spring that had a lot of water running through. At the top of the mountain, you will find another shelter. From there it’s about 250 feet to the tower.
As I am not one to climb towers, here’s a view from the first landing.
Here’s what the tower looks like.
There wasn’t much of a view from the top of the mountain, even with the leaves down. I heard from our group that the view was much better all the way at the top of the tower; but the trees are almost as high as the tower.
We made quick work of the descent. I was able to grab a few more pictures. I took pictures through the trees while the leaves were down. I suspect that during the spring and summer, you can’t see much.
While I took a picture of these rocks due to the ice, I think the snake den would be a little above this (towards the right.) Our trip leader mentioned it on the way up.
Life: None, it was too snowy. Not even any tracks.