Phoenicia - Mt. Tobias Wild Forest
- Open for recreation: Year-round
- Fee: Free
- Contact Information:
- DEC Region 3 New Paltz Office: (845) 256-3000 (M-F 8:30AM - 4:30PM), email: email@example.com
- Law Enforcement, Emergency & Rangers: 518-408-5850 or dial 911
- Location: Towns of Shandaken, Woodstock and Olive in Ulster County and town of Hunter in Greene County
- Wildlife Management Unit: 3A
- Map: View Phoenicia-Mt. Tobias Wild Forest Map - PDF (3.4 MB) || Google Earth || State Lands Interactive Mapper
The Phoenicia-Mt. Tobias Wild Forest serves as a bridge between three wilderness areas: Slide Mountain, Hunter-West Kill and Indian Head Mountain, and includes more than 7,300 acres. The Tremper Mountain parcel (5,800 acres) contains the Tremper Mountain Fire Tower, a popular hiking destination. From the fire tower at Mt. Tremper, visitors look out over the tops of the Catskills' highest peaks. From there, a trail connects Mt. Tremper through the Warner Creek Valley, one of the most isolated valleys in the Catskills containing a rare example (for the Catskills) of riparian wetlands and stream valleys. The second largest parcel of land in the Wild Forest is 1,300-acre Mt. Tobias, linked by a right-of-way (no developed trail) connecting to a 16-panel interpretive kiosk on Route 28 (about 5 miles east of Phoenicia).
General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations
Mt. Tremper Fire Tower Trail
A red-blazed trail connects the parking area (10-car capacity) at County Route 40 (go east from Main Street in Phoenicia) to the Mount Tremper Fire Tower (2.75 miles, el. 2740 feet), gaining 2000 feet in elevation. The trail is a continuous climb on a rocky old road, going past the Baldwin Memorial Lean-to at 1.95 miles and a pipe spring at 2.05 miles (may be dry during periods of drought) before reaching the tower. The blue-blazed Warner Creek Trail to the yellow-blazed Willow Trail lead 3.65 miles from the fire tower to an undeveloped trailhead on Jessup Road (1,300-foot change in elevation).
Warner Creek Trail
From the fire tower you can continue on the blue-blazed Warner Creek Trail toward Willow for 1.5 miles to where the yellow-blazed Willow Trail continues to Willow. Stay on the Warner Creek Trail, descending into the Warner Creek valley, climbing up to Silver Hollow Mountain (el. 3,013 feet) and continuing 9.7 miles on the ridge past Silver Hollow Notch woods road to an intersection with Indian Head Wilderness Trails. From there it is 2.75 miles to the Devils Tombstone State Campground.
Mt. Tobias: Abby Road Trails
There is an old woods road through private land from Wittenberg Road to Mt. Tobias. An undeveloped parking area at Abbey Road provides access to this old road and the unmarked trails near the summit of Mount Tobias.
General information on fire towers includes historic and current uses of fire towers and links to other locations with fire towers
Tremper Mountain, Shandaken Elevation 2,740 feet
This fire tower is believed to be the original structure built circa 1917, and used for fire observation until 1971. The 47-foot tower was placed in its present location because of the vast sections of forest preserve not visible from either the Hunter or Belleayre fire towers.
Directions: Follow the red-marked Phoenicia Trail located on Ulster County Route 40 just outside of Phoenicia-a moderate to difficult, six-mile, round-trip hike.
General information on backcountry camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations
At-large backcountry camping is allowed. 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.
There are two lean-tos on the Mt. Tremper Fire Tower Trail before you reach the summit. There are pit privies at both. A spring 2.05 miles from the Baldwin Memorial Lean-to may be dry during drought periods.
General information on fishing includes how-to and safety tips and links to seasons, rules & regulations
Phoenicia Mt. Tobias Wild Forest features Warner Creek, which is open to fishing. This creek can only be accessed by a substantial hike, via the Phoenician Trail.
There are also public fishing sites along the nearby Esopus Creek. A pamphlet is available with maps of state lands and public fishing rights that depicts the Public Access for Fishing the Esopus Creek (PDF 919 KB) .
Southeastern NY Fishing provides information on fishing in the Catskills and links to top fishing waters, stocking lists, public fishing access and waters open to ice fishing listed by county.
Hunting & Trapping
Hunting and trapping are allowed during appropriate seasons. Big game hunting and turkey hunting are popular in this wild forest.
Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing
General information on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
Catskill informational kiosk on Route 28 in Phoenicia
Snowshoeing is allowed on all trails. Cross-country skiing is best on the gentler slopes of the old woods road leading up to Mt. Tobias (elevation 2,544).
General information on animals includes links to information about birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects that inhabit or migrate through the state.
The Catskills are home to an abundance of wildlife. With both larger mammals (including deer, bear, and bobcat) as well as smaller mammals (including porcupine and fisher) the Catskills have several unique habitats. In addition to the many mammals found in the Catskills, hundreds of species of birds can also be found in the Catskills.
From Thruway Exit 19 at Kingston - take first right turn off traffic circle to Route 28 west, proceed approximately 21 miles west on Rte. 28 to Mt. Tremper, turn right on to Rte. 212, 1/2 mile to 4-way intersection. Turn right again on Wittenberg Road (County Rte. 40). The trailhead off County Route 40 holds about 10 cars. Abbey Road is about 2 miles on the left side, and the Kenneth Wilson Campground is approximately 4 miles on the right side.
From Thruway Exit 19 at Kingston - take first right turn off traffic circle to Route 28, proceed approximately 23 miles west on Rte. 28 to sign for Phoenicia, make a right onto Main Street (County Route 40). Go east about 3 miles on County Route 40 to the Tremper Mountain Trailhead.
Or take Route 28 to about 19 miles west of Kingston, make a right onto 212 (just before you cross the Esopus Creek) and go 0.5 mile to CR 40. Make a left onto County Route 40 and go west for about 3 miles to the Tremper Mountain Trailhead.
Limited access parking is available at the Route 28 Day Use Area and on a small unmaintained Forest Preserve access pulloff at Abbey Road, off County Route 40 within two miles of Kenneth Wilson State Campground.
Rules and Regulations and Outdoor Safety
Practice Leave No Trace (leaves the DEC website) principles when in the Catskills to minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts with other back-country users.
All users of the Phoenicia-Mt. Tobias Wild Forest must follow all State Land Use Regulations and should follow recommended Outdoor Safety Practices for their safety and the protection of the environment.
How We Manage the Phoenicia-Mt. Tobias Wild Forest
DEC manages these lands in accordance with the Phoenicia-Mt. Tobias Wild Forest Unit Management Plan (PDF, 1.4 MB). In addition to management objectives, the UMP contains detailed information on natural features, recreational infrastructure, geology, natural and human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and more.
Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information
DEC Lands & Facilities
- Kenneth Wilson Campground
- Devil's Tombstone campground
- Big Indian Wilderness
- Hunter-Westkill Wilderness
- Slide Mt. Wilderness
Catskill Regional Tourism Office (leaves DEC website), Greene County Tourism Office (leaves DEC website) and Ulster County Tourism Office (leaves DEC website) can provide information about other recreation, attractions and amenities in this area.
Numerous guide books and maps are available with information on the lands, waters, trails and other recreational facilities in this area. These can be purchased at most outdoor equipment retailers, bookstores, and on-line booksellers.
Additional information, outdoor equipment, trip suggestions and guided or self-guided tours may be obtained from outdoor guide and outfitting businesses. Check area chambers of commerce, telephone directories or search the internet for listings.
Consider hiring an outdoor guide if you have little experience or woodland skills. See the NYS Outdoor Guides Association (leaves DEC website) for information on outdoor guides.