Phoenicia - Mt. Tobias Wild Forest
- Open for recreation: Year-round
- Fee: Free
- Contact Information:
- DEC Region 3 Office: (845) 256-3000 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Law Enforcement, Emergency & Rangers: 518-408-5850 or dial 911
- Location: Shandaken, Woodstock and Olive (Ulster County) and Hunter (Greene County)
- Wildlife Management Unit: 3A
- Map: View Phoenicia-Mt. Tobias Wild Forest Map - PDF (3.38 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 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 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.
Hunting & trapping
Hunting and trapping are allowed on all forest preserve lands. Big game hunting and turkey hunting are popular in this wild forest. All hunters and trappers must comply with all applicable State laws and regulations .
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).
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 Amenities and Attractions
DEC Lands & Facilities
- Nearby state-run Kenneth Wilson Campground (845-679-7020) has 76 tent and trailer sites; picnic area with tables and grills; flush toilets; hot showers; baseball and soccer fields; trailer dump station; recycling center; mobility impaired accessibility; bathhouse; pay phones; mountain bike trail; boat rentals; horseshoe pits. Completely surrounded by mountains with panoramic views creating a picturesque setting, Kenneth L. Wilson Campground is 5 miles northwest of the village of Woodstock. A lake at the campground has fishing.
- The Devil's Tombstone campground is to the north in the Town of Hunter and is an ideal base camp for hikers looking to climb some of the Catskill's highest peaks.
- The Big Indian Wilderness is adjacent to the north and can be reached by following the Phoenicia Trail north (will turn into the Warner Creek trail--also blue blaze--as it enters Big Indian).
- The Hunter-Westkill Wilderness a remote mountainous location of more than 19,250 acres, is to the north and west.
- The very popular Slide Mt. Wilderness is directly across Rte 28 and features rugged, lofty peaks with extensive views and 35 miles of hiking trails.
Ulster County Tourism (800-342-5826) and the Rondout Visitors Center (800-331-1518), the Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce (845-586-3300) and the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce (845-679-6234) can provide information about recreating in this area and other amenities. Use the links provided at right to access their websites. I Love New York Travel Guides are also available on the I Love New York website.
The nearby village of Phoenicia offers tubing and fishing on the Esopus Creek, antiques, restaurants, railroad museum, art galleries, gift shops, and shopping. The village of Woodstock offers art galleries, craft shops, golf course, fine restaurants, entertainment, antiques, and shopping. Also within a half hour drive are the Belleayre and Hunter Mountain Ski Centers, which offer sky rides, and music and craft festivals. In addition, at Belleayre, you can ride the Ulster & Delaware Railroad to and from the ski center, take a trolley ride to the sky ride, the villages of Pine Hill and Fleischmanns, and Belleayre's day-use area.