Red Hill Fire Tower from Denning

This new route is a little longer and tougher than the classic route, but so much sweeter.

Hike Length: 4.0 miles (6.44 km)

Total Ascent: 1,160ft (354m)

Intensity: Moderate Catskills Hike

Route Type: Out-and-Back

Includes: Blazed Trail

Parent Red Hill

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blue trail blaze affixed to tree near stone steps

Blue blazed new trail

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 New route.

Hiking Trail Description

This new, very popular route to the Red Hill Fire Tower is spectacular.

The new trail, which opened in February 2021, greatly improves access to the Red Hill Fire Tower — one of the six towers currently featured in the Catskills Fire Tower Challenge.

This is one of the best short hikes in The Catskills. It’s also a good choice for your first sunrise hike.

The New York DEC opening announcement outlines: “Tahawus Trails built the new blue-blazed trail that traverses both city and State Forest Preserve lands through rocky outcroppings and hemlock-laden forests. The 1.4 miles of trail intersects with the existing trail, leading up to the 60-foot tall Red Hill Fire Tower that was constructed in 1920. Hikers can climb nine flights of stairs to the top for unsurpassed views of the Catskill peaks and Rondout Reservoir.”

The tower itself was re-opened to the public in 2000 by the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development and NYSDEC.

Red Hill Fire Tower Hiking Trail

The new blue-blazed 1.4 mile hiking trail includes…

  • Much better parking in a large lot
  • A fun winding route
  • Hemlock stands, fern groves, and rocky outcroppings
  • Many beautiful sections of stone steps to ease your ascent
  • A junction that connects to the existing summit trail that leaves out none of the fun stuff

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Red Hill Trail Fire Tower Trail Notes & Gallery

This new trail starts at a lower elevation than the classic trail to Red Hill — which is still a lovely hike to this fantastic tower. The two routes converge at a junction at 2500’ and continue to the summit at 2979’ via the same trail.

The new trailhead also includes a portable toilet, which I was very grateful for on this hike.

Follow the blue blazes and enjoy the best of what modern sustainable trail design can do for a hike…

blue trail blaze affixed to tree near stone steps
Blue blazed new trail

The forest is a mix of hemlock stands, open deciduous woods, and sweet fern glades like this…

trail through fern glade
Fern grove on blue blazed new trail

I loved the new route and its charming details…

trail in forest
Blue blazed new trail

Red Hill trail in forest, stone steps
Blue blazed new trail

Red Hill trail through rock chasm
Rock channel on blue blazed new trail

Blue/Yellow Junction

Just below 2500’ the blue trail ends at a junction. Turn right and continue the remainder of the route uphill along the classic yellow trail.

You can stop along the way at apx 2700’ to visit the Red Hill spring. On this day it had all but run dry — but, after rainfall, it’s a really lovely spot.

Red Hill Summit & Fire Tower

The section above the spring is the steepest part of this hike, but it’s pretty short. In a few minutes, you’ll find yourself on the incredibly sweet summit of Red Hill.

An observer’s cabin, outhouse, two picnic tables and a seemingly manicured stretch of grassy lawn make this maybe the most delightful mountain peak in the Catskills. (Please treat it kindly.)

Red Hill cabin and outhouse
Red Hill summit cabin and outhouse

red hill picnic table and fire tower
Red Hill Fire Tower

The 360° view from the Red Hill fire tower is so lovely. The large mountains to the east are Slide, Table and Peekamoose.

scenic view from Red Hill Fire Tower
Red Hill Fire Tower view

sunset view from red hill fire tower
Table & Peekamoose at sunset

sunset view from red hill fire tower
Farmstead at sunset

To the north, you can see Graham Mountian and Doubletop — both now off-limits to public hiking.

view north from Red Hill Fire Tower
View of Graham and Doubletop

Red Hill Fire Tower Sunrises & Sunsets

Red Hill is a short hike no matter how you do it. This new route only took me two hours for the full out-and-back. This makes Red Hill an especially appealing destination for sunrise hikes and sunset hikes.

I’ve been there at both times. At sunrise, the sun rises directly behind Table & Peekamoose, and it’s truly spectacular.

red hill fire tower sunset
Sunset from Red Hill Fire Tower

I left around sunset and still only needed my headlamp for the last half-a-mile of my descent. (But remember, for headlamps: “Two is one, and one is none” — i.e. always carry a spare.)

Similar Hikes

The Classic Route to Red Hill is also super enjoyable — and it’s also a little shorter and easier.

Red Hill is one of The Catskills’ six amazing Fire Towers — but a seventh is on the way.

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The parent mountain for this hike is Red Hill.

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Trailhead Info for this Hike

Large new lot. Please check the ground around your car before you leave.

Google Maps Location: 41.935107, -74.529417

The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead

Cell Service

Very good LTE signal up high. I lost signal on the way down just above the junction. My network is Verizon. YMMV.