|Hunter Mountain Wild Forest · Town of Hunter · Elevation 4,040'|
History | Restoration Update | Contact Information | Fire Tower Pictures
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The Hunter Mountain Fire Tower has the unique distinction of being the highest fire tower in New York State, a 60' tower standing on top of a 4,040' mountain. It is also only one of a few fire towers to be listed on the National Historic Lookout Register as well as the National Register of Historic Places.
The original fire tower on Hunter Mountain was built in 1909, and was one of the first three fire towers that were constructed in the Catskills that year. The original wooden tower was 40 feet tall, and was replaced with a steel tower in 1917. That tower was placed at an elevation of 4,000', a third of a mile from the true summit. The tower was removed and reset at the present site (the actual summit) in 1953.
Along with the Red Hill tower in Ulster County (closed in 1990), it was the last fire tower staffed in the Catskills. The State officially closed the Hunter tower in 1989. Since then, the tower and its observers' cabin have deteriorated in condition, and were in need of repair before they could be re-opened to the public.
Hunter Mountain, despite its high elevation, deep notches, and steep slopes, was extensively logged over a century ago. The only virgin forest on the entire mountain is located on the northeastern side - totaling less than one-square-mile! (The Becker Hollow trail leads through it). Much of the summit was burned over as well. White birch, a major tree pioneer species following disturbances, can be found all over the upper slopes of the mountain - indicating extensive logging and forest fires.
Of course, the views from the tower are incredible. North/South Lakes, the Blackhead Range, the Hudson Valley, and the southern Catskills (including Slide Mt.) can be seen. If you have binoculars, it is possible to see the fire tower on Mt. Utsayantha, near Stamford! Supposedly, if the sun is high enough and with binoculars, it is even possible to see the two streams of water that are Kaaterskill Falls.
The tower was reopened on October 7, 2000 with nearly 60 people attending. The cab has been restored to what it once was including the circular map and alidade used to triangulate fires with the towers on Tremper and Overlook Mountains. The ground cabin had also been restored and houses some memorabilia from the Hunter Fire Tower. Volunteers are needed to staff the tower this season so that the cab can be opened up and enjoyed by all those who visit. If you would like more information on volunteering at the Hunter Mountain tower, contact The Catskill Center at (845) 586-2611 or write to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to donate funds to the Hunter Mountain Fire Tower, or would like more information about the project or volunteering, you may contact:
Rick Dearstyne, Forest Ranger
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
Stamford, NY 12167
Donations should be made out to "CCCD/Hunter Fire Tower" and mailed to:
The Catskill Center, Route 28, Arkville, NY 12406.