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Overlook Mountain Wild Forest

hikingprimitive campingHuntingtrappingfiretowerbikingCross-country skiingsnowshoeingparking icon key

locator map showing Overlook Wild Forest in the eastern section of the Catskill Park

The Overlook Wild Forest offers a unique combination: a historic fire tower, mountain house ruins and impressive views of the Hudson River Valley and the central Catskills all within an under five-mile hike. The view of Overlook Mountain from the Hudson River appealed to many writers and artists making the area famous and laying the foundation for a wilderness concept and ethic in the United States. The summit of Overlook Mountain is one of the top three most visited locations in the Catskill Forest Preserve (after Slide Mountain and North-South Lake).

view of the Catskills from Overlook Mountain

Hiking

hiking

General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations

A single trail climbs steadily to the top of Overlook Mountain following an old carriage road that once transported guests in the late 19th century to the Overlook Mountain House. There are nice views through the trees on the way up, except in summer. At 1.6 miles you see the massive castle-like ruins of the latest and never-completed Overlook Mountain House (elevation 2,900 feet), begun in the 1920's, and now being reclaimed by nature. (Please observe the ruins from the outside for your safety). Nearby is a privately-owned tower for which the dirt road is maintained. Please respect private property. You then move on to the fire tower at el. 3,150 ft. The spur trail to the right of the ground cabin takes you to a ledge with a magnificent view of the Hudson River, Ashokan Reservoir, the Central Catskills, and up to five states. Ledges and drop-offs require care. Stay on the paths, snakes have been seen. One-way distance - 2.4 miles. Ascent is a gradual but nonstop incline-1370 feet.

The 13-acre Echo Lake (part of the Indian Head Wilderness) is an additional 4 miles round-trip (elevation drop of 1000 feet) from just above the ruins of the Overlook Mountain House.

Fire Tower

fire tower
View of a fire tower from the base in winter

General information on fire towers includes historic and current uses of fire towers and links to other locations with fire towers

Elevation 3,140 feet. Cab at top of tower is open most weekends Memorial Day through Columbus Day when staffed by volunteer interpreters. Ground observer's cabin with historical, Forest Preserve and fire tower displays is also open most weekends from the end of May to October

This is the newest of the five towers left 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 is 60 feet tall, and offers incredible views of the Hudson River Valley, Ashokan Reservoir, and Devil's Path.

Biking

bicycling

General information on biking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations

Biking is permitted on Meads Mt. Road Trailhead to Overlook Fire Tower trail and continuing on to Prediger Road (Overlook Turnpike Primitive Bicycle Corridor).

Camping

Primitive camping

General information on backcountry camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations

There are no designated camping sites but at large backcountry camping is allowed on Overlook Mountain Wild Forest. Campsites must be at least 150 feet away from the nearest road, trail, or body of water. Camping for more than three nights or in groups of ten or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger.

Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing

skiing
snowshoeing

General information on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are permitted on all hiking trails.

Hunting and Trapping

hunting
trapping

General Information on hunting and general information on trapping includes how-to and safety tips with links to seasons, rules & regulations

Hunting and trapping are allowed in accordance with all New York State laws and regulations.

Directions

The Overlook Mountain Fire Tower trailhead is accessible by car from Interstate I-87 (NYS Thruway) Exit 19 in Kingston (Route 28). Take Route 28 west approximately 6 miles to a right on Rt. 375, then left on Rte 212 to the Woodstock Village Green. At the Village Green, in the center of town, make a right on Rock City Road, continuing past the 4 corners intersection to Meads Mountain Road. The parking lot is on your right about 2 miles up Meads Mountain Road. Or you can take Exit 20 (Saugerties), Rte 212 west, to the Woodstock Village Green, and then follow the above directions. (42.071094°N, -74.122661°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website).

Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

Practice Leave No Trace(leaves the DEC website) principles when in the Catskills to minimize impact on our natural resources and be respectful of other backcountry users.

All users of Overlook Wild Forest must follow all state land use regulations and should follow all outdoor safety practices for their own benefit and to protect the environment. For your safety, please do not go inside the ruins of the former Overlook Mountain House. Nearby is a privately-owned tower for which the dirt road is maintained. Please respect private property.

How we manage Overlook Mt. Wild Forest

DEC manages these lands in accordance with activities described in the Overlook Mountain Wild Forest Unit Management Plan (PDF) 1.4 MB In addition to management objectives, the UMP contains detailed information on natural features, recreation, geology, natural and human history, wildlife, habitats and much more.

Nearby Amenities and Attractions

DEC Lands and Facilities:

  • The Indian Head Wilderness is adjacent to the north and connected by the main trail.
  • The Phoenicia Wild Forest less than a half hour to the west.
  • Kenneth Wilson Campground is 20 minutes south and west.

Gas, food, restaurants and lodging can be found in the nearby communities of Woodstock and Bearsville.

Ulster County Tourism (800-342-5826),the Rondout Visitors Center (800-331-1518), and the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce (845-679-6234) can provide information about recreating in this area and other amenities. Use the links provided in the right column of this page to access their websites.

Numerous guide books are available with information on the lands and waters in this area. These can be purchased at most outdoor equipment retailers, bookstores, and on-line booksellers.

DEC has interactive maps that can be used to print maps showing state lands, trails and facilities for this area or any location within New York State.