Hiking: Overlook Mountain
Hiking enthusiasts who visit The Guesthouse have many excursions to choose from. The Catskill State Park is full of trails and climbs. One of the most scenic destinations is Overlook Mountain.
The southernmost peak of the Catskill Escarpment, Overlook Mountain offers unparalleled 360-degree views of the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River Valley. Once at the top, you will forget all about the 2.5 miles of uphill hiking it took to get there.
From the Sanctuary, head east on Route 212. In the center of Woodstock, turn left onto Rock City Road. Cross the Glasco Turnpike and continue up Mead Mountain Road. There is a parking lot at the trail head, across from the Tibetan Buddhist Monastery.
The trail is an old gravel road, and there are plenty of nice big rocks along the way if you need to sit down and take a breather. This is a moderately difficult hike; although the trail is in excellent condition, the hike is literally all uphill. Don’t forget your water bottle! Insect repellent is recommended, and you may also want to bring a scarf and hoodie – it is always windy and chilly at the top. Wear a bandana to keep the sweat out of your eyes, and be sure to bring a camera!
Two miles into your hike, you will come upon the ruins of the Overlook Mountain House. Originally constructed in 1871, the hotel was destroyed by fire in 1875 and reconstructed the same year. It burned again in 1923, and although restoration work began, the hotel was boarded up in 1940 and never reopened. Further fire damage in the 1960s left only the massive concrete shell, which has been partially reclaimed by the forest.
Half a mile further on stands one of the five remaining Catskill Mountain fire towers. The 60-foot fire tower was built in 1927 and moved to its present location in 1950. Its integrity is still sound, and you can climb to the top for spectacular 360-degree views. There is a picnic area at the base of the fire tower. If you brought a sack lunch, make sure to carry out everything you brought in, and leave the site as beautiful as you found it.
Down a short path from the fire tower is a scenic overlook. Step out of the forest onto a wide rock ledge for a breathtaking view of the Hudson River Valley.
Photos by Rachael