MT. TREMPER – The Tremper Mountain Fire Tower in Mt. Tremper has reopened its top cab for visitors. Earlier in the season the tower had remained closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In light of the ongoing concerns, the tower has been reopened in a cautious way with multiple new safety measures in place. To protect other hikers, visitors are required to wear a face mask when climbing on the tower, to use hand sanitizer before and after climbing on the tower, and only members of the same party should climb together.
The tower is not yet being staffed by Catskill Fire Tower Project volunteers from the Catskill Center. Therefore, when visiting, hikers will be able to climb the tower and enter the cab on their own.
Visitors to the tower are asked not to try to open the fire tower windows as they are in fragile condition and will be replaced soon.
“While this isn’t our traditional type of opening with the Catskill Fire Tower Project at a fire tower, we are excited to offer the public a chance to enjoy the Tremper Mountain Fire Tower,” said Jeff Senterman, executive director of the Catskill Center. “These towers are some of the most scenic and popular destinations in the Park and now the public will have the opportunity to once again enjoy the towers before our volunteers return to the tower.”
Built in 1917, the 47-foot steel tower once used for forest fire surveillance offers a unique view that is known as being in “the teacup of the Catskills.” With some of the higher elevation mountains surrounding you and a “spout” that leads the eye to the Ashokan Reservoir and the Hudson River Valley, the view from Tremper Fire Tower is a great thing to experience, center officials said.
A strenuous hike can take you to the summit of Tremper Mountain and to the fire tower. There are two main trailheads that can take you to the top.
From the western side trailhead on Old Route 28 in Mt. Tremper, the hike is 6.10 miles out and back with about 1967 feet of elevation gain.
From the eastern side in Willow, on Jessop Road, the trail is 7.6 miles roundtrip with 1633 feet of elevation gain.
For both hikes, it is suggested that hikers have the 10 essentials with them to prepare for a few hours out in the backcountry. A list of the essentials can be found at http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/lands_forests_pdf/hikesmarttenessentials.pdf.
The Catskill Center expects that its volunteers from the Catskill Center’s Catskill Fire Tower Project will begin to staff the tower later in the season. When volunteers arrive, they will be on hand to greet hikers.
The five backcountry Catskill Park Fire Towers are owned and maintained by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation with support from the Catskill Center. A sixth Catskill Park Fire Tower is now located on the grounds of the Catskills Visitor Center (catskillsvisitorcenter.org), having opened in the fall of 2019.