Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Red Hill

The second Catskills fire tower hike (the overall ninth fire tower mountain,) as well as the main reason that we dragged the husbands down to the Catskills for camping was Red Hill. At only 890 feet in elevation change and a round trip walk of 2.8 miles, it hardly seemed worth driving 3 hours to just do this mountain so we made a weekend out of it, camping at Mongaup Campground and hiking up Balsam Lake Mountain the day before.

We were accompanied on this hike by our loving, willing, but less than enthusiastic husbands, who came because it meant a lot to us. Once again, it was a small miracle that we found the trailhead., validating my claim to my husband, that no, there are not huge signs directing you to mountain trails.

We drove over back roads and perhaps even a mountain to get to the trail head in Denning, a town in southern Ulster County. My brother-in-law had more faith in his car than I had in my Corolla to get us down the bumpy dirt road to the parking lot closest to the trailhead. We found some self guided tour pamphlets, like the ones at Mt. Goodnow and Blue Mountain which provided a little lesson in nature along the way. It described Along the way we saw Lycopodium, Nectria, Mountain Wood Fern (the fern that florists use in arrangements,) Yellow Birch, Hemlock, White Pine, Moss, pudden stone, bluestone slabs which were dropped at its location by a glacier, and of course the fire tower and cabin.

"Pudden Stone" stones inside rocks

Bluestone, left by the glaciers

Sister and I were excited to find yet another Catskills interpreter at the summit - an opportunity that is not as frequently provided in the Adirondacks. He was actually the one that made some hand mountain profile labeling maps inside the tower, so you could see based on the outline of each mountain which peaks you were looking at.

Me and Red in front of the Red Hill fire tower

From the top you can see 98 peaks and over 3000 acres of land. The land was only occasionally frequented by Native Americans, and later settled by Dutch, English, Irish, and Germans. Some of this history of the region includes logging, bluestone quarrying, leather tanning, winter green and blueberry harvesting, trapping, fishing, mountain house tourism, railroads, and World War II pilot training.

The cabin

Red Hill was selected to be a steel fire tower site in 1920, and was the last staffed tower in the Catskill Forest Preserve, which was last staffed in 1990.

Pictures inside the cabin

For all the pictures from this hike, see my Flickr set.

According to "Views from on High" by John Freeman, the summit Elevation is 2990 ft, with an elevation change of 890 feet. The difficulty is described as being a short hike, never very steep, though my husband begs to differ.

Thanks to the Red Hill Fire Tower Committee for providing a paper trail guide along the hike, from which this information was obtained!

For a list of those who served the Red Hill Fire Tower, visit:

1 comment:

storybeader said...

that's great that you and sister get along so well. Of course, the scenery is green and beautiful, as always. Enjoy the nice weather while it lasts!