ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The Adirondack Fire Tower Challenge is a 25-mountain gauntlet where each trail is topped with a piece of Adirondack Park history. The fire towers topping many mountains around the park are relics of a time with more active firewatchers, and many of them can be climbed by hikers looking to declare another challenge overcome.
In 2023, those hikers can then travel south of Albany, and do it all over again. The DEC has announced the 2023 Catskills Fire Tower Challenge, which will tie together six fire towers across the Catskills and mid-Hudson region of the state.
“The annual Fire Tower Challenge is a great way to keep the history and traditions of our Catskills fire towers alive for future generations to appreciate and enjoy,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “The Fire Tower Challenge provides opportunities for New Yorkers and visitors to reach the unique viewing experience of the spectacular Catskill Mountains while making everlasting memories with family and friends. I encourage anyone that has participated in years past, or those looking to try the tower hikes for the first time and take the 2023 Challenge.”
Five of the Catskill towers are on mountains, while the sixth is at a wilderness visitor center that makes the experience of getting a view from up high more attainable. Each trail ends with a fully-climbable fire tower. All of them are managed by the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, through its Catskill Fire Tower Project.
The trails include:
- Balsam Lake Mountain
- Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest, Hardenburgh
- 4.3 miles, 1,187-foot elevation gain
- Catskills Visitor Center
- 5096 NY-28, Tremper
- No hike, fire tower is located at visitor center
- Hunter Mountain
- Spruceton Road trailhead, Hunter
- Approx. 6.9 miles, 1,884-foot elevation gain
- Overlook Mountain
- Overlook Mountain Wild Forest, Woodstock
- 4.6 miles, 1,397-foot elevation gain
- Red Hill Mountain
- Sundown Wild Forest, Denning
- 3.6-miles, 1,020-foot elevation gain
- Tremper Mountain
- Mt. Tobias Wild Forest, Shandaken
- 5.9 miles, 2,027-foot elevation
Hikers who want to take on the Catskill challenge just have to hit all six trails within 2023. Once all six trails have been blazed, hikers can send their hike logs and selfies or photos from hikes to CatskillsChallenge@dec.ny.gov. They can also be sent in via web form on the DEC website. The first 1,000 people to complete the challenge will receive a free one-year subscription of “Conservationist,” the DEC’s regular environmentalist magazine.
“New York State is unsurpassed when it comes to outdoor recreation destinations,” said Empire State Development Vice President and Tourism Director Ross D. Levi. “The Fire Tower Challenge represents another chance to invite visitors from around the world and residents alike to explore all that New York has to offer when it comes to enjoying the great outdoors. I LOVE NY looks forward to promoting the Fire Tower Challenge and all the amazing opportunities to hike the Empire State.”