Visiting the Hudson Valley for the weekend, we had to pick at least one hike in the nearby Catskills, so we chose Overlook Mountain. It’s not too long, and it has a fire tower with views. The trailhead is just north of Woodstock and we only managed to get a spot at the Meads Mountain Road trailhead because it was mid-afternoon and people had already started leaving.
I thought the Overlook Mountain Trail was an old road, but it’s actually an in-use access road to a cell tower. I was surprised, and slightly disappointed, that we were following power lines the whole way, although it was still a nice walk. Still, since we were in the Overlook Mountain Wild Forest, I expected a little more of a wilderness feel.
It was only in the 40s so I started out with too many layers on and soon had to shed some as we gradually climbed. After 1.9 miles, we reached the ruins of the Overlook Mountain House hotel. We decided to keep going to the fire tower first and explore the ruins on the way back.
It was a much more level, and slightly narrower, path the remaining .4 mile to the summit of Overlook Mountain at 3140′. We climbed the fire tower for more views, only to find that the cabin at the top was locked. There were still good views from the stairs below it.
There is also an old fire observer’s cabin near the tower, although it was closed today. Apparently it is open sometimes and staffed by volunteers as a little natural history museum. Past the cabin is a short trail to an overlook on the east side of the mountain.
It was chilly at the top and we knew it would be getting dark soon so we headed back down the trail to check out the hotel ruins. The Overlook Mountain House hotel burned down twice, in 1874 and 1924, and the instance of it currently built there was never finished. The owners went broke in the stock market crash later that decade, and multiple fires plagued this half-built building too. I love ruins that nature has taken over so we spent some time walking through them and taking photos.
We eventually had to head back down the trail to the car. This was a nice, easy 4.6-mile hike, accessible from town and with great views and history.