Tremper Mountain Fire Tower from Willow

A much quieter and more interesting route to Tremper Mountain Fire Tower

Hike Length: 7.6 miles (12.23 km)

Total Ascent: 1,700ft (518m)

Intensity: Moderate Catskills Hike

Route Type: Out-and-Back

Includes: Blazed Trail

Parent Tremper

sunset view from Tremper Mountain fire tower

Tremper Mountain Fire Tower view

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 An easy-to-navigate out-and-back

Hiking Trail Description

This quiet route to Tremper Mountain Fire Tower is not much used, but it’s so much nicer than the classic route we all normally trod.

This is a great route for hiking solitude. If you’re worried about the rattlesnakes on the usual route up Tremper Mountain, this might be a better option — though I did have my first bear sighting on this hike. Details below.

Compare this route with the classic route to Tremper Mountain’s Fire Tower.

Willow Trailhead & Parking

Jessop Road is paved until close to the trailhead but the last few hundred feet are dirt road and very rough. Although I took it slowly, my car bounced around a fair bit due to large potholes. Especially after rain or snow, you’ll want to drive up here with AWD or 4WD, or at least in a car with a lot of clearance.  I returned to this trailhead in December and the rough section had been repaired.

The medium-sized parking area is off-road, somewhat uphill. Keep an eye out for the large DEC/NYCEP trailhead sign on your left and head up.

There is no trail register.

The trail begins to the right of an information board.

Best Anti-Tick Treatment

Video: Tremper Mountain Fire Tower View

A short look at Tremper Mountain’s fire tower and the amazing 360° view from its cabin. Plus one red eft.

Willow Hiking Trail to Tremper Mountain Fire Tower

Look for and follow the yellow blazes. This trail is immediately steep.

But also immediately lovely…

woodsy trail
Willow Trail

The first 1.6 miles to this route’s only junction takes some work, but there are no technical sections. It’s a straightforward walking route. Except for one patch of nettles and one…

Immediate Bear Sighting

About half-a-mile into this hike, I had my first black bear sighting in The Catskills. Later in the year, on my way to Silver Hollow, I saw a ton of coyote scat along this trail, so this is a great quiet route.

The bear interaction was textbook: by the time I saw the bear, he or she was already running away.

For about a minute, I’d heard something big moving in the woods to my right. I figured it might be a bear because it sounded large but it didn’t sound like a deer moving…

Suddenly, a bear popped onto the trail a few hundred feet ahead of me, ran along the trail for a few seconds, and then bounded back into the woods and headed uphill. Not a cub and not an adult, so I pegged it as an adolescent.

I learned a lot from the interaction:

  1. With their big wide footpads, bears don’t make much noise when they move, except for whatever brush they knock over — which is a lot, and I will probably recognize this sound signature next time;
  2. They really are scared of humans: I pulled out my bear spray and carried it for a while but the bear never even looked back — after it ran back into the woods, I never saw it again;
  3. A black bear is like a nimble whiskey barrel out jogging in a fur coat.

The whole sighting lasted maybe six seconds. My heart rate barely changed, mostly because things went about as perfectly as things can. If the bear had come toward me, I’m guessing my Garmin’s heart rate monitor would show a very healthy spike.

Again because things had gone well, and how I’d always imagined they would, I felt okay and carried on with my hike. (On my subsequent hike along this route, I made sure to bring my bear spray again, LOL.)

Nettles

There are some lovely hemlock stands along this route. And a few gurgling brooks that drain the mountain. Near the back of the hollow, however, the trail passes through a stand of stinging nettles.

woodsy trail
Willow Trail

I got through the nettles without incident, even though I was wearing shorts, but I’d advise anyone using this route in the summer to wear long hiking pants.

Turns

Keep an eye out for some subtle turns on this trail, too.

trail fork in woods
Willow Trail

You’ll come to some forks and if, like me, you’re sometimes a bit zoned out, it’s easy to miss them.

Junction / Warner Creek Trail to Tremper Mountain Fire Tower

After 1.6 miles, you’ll have completed most of the day’s climbing. At the junction with the Warner Creek Trail, turn left and follow the blue blazes southwest. (Turning right leads you down a steep route to the magical Silver Hollow.)

The trail passes below Tremper Mountain’s northeastern lobe and winds through mixed woods. There are some very old, very large oaks up here — and several more hemlock stands, which I love.

Near the middle of the col, the trail passes very close to the edge of the steepest side of the notch. I wanted to step off trail here and explore the area for views but I was short on time, heading to catch sunset from the fire lookout tower, so I didn’t dally. Next time.

red eft on leaf litter
Ref Eft

Pass some more old oaks, a white ledge, then some more magnificent oaks and black cherry trees, and soon you’ll be at the Tremper Mountain Fire Tower.

Tremper Mountain Fire Tower

I love this fire tower and its views, which are underrated. I break down all the mountains on view in my previous post from when I took the classic route up.

Fire Tower in woods
Tremper Mountain Fire Tower

For now, just enjoy these lovely sunset peaks and ridges… 

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Similar Hikes

This is a great route if you want some hiking solitude.

Check this list of the most scenic hikes.

And there are five more Catskills fire towers to choose from, all with excellent views.

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The parent mountain for this hike is Tremper.

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Trailhead Info for this Hike

Medium-sized lot slightly uphill from Jessup Road (which is quite rough in spots)

Google Maps Location: 42.077669, -74.243016

The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead

Cell Service

No service at trailhead but patchy service above the 1750’ contour My network is Verizon. YMMV.

Your comments are welcome here…

Hello, I’m Sean

I write independent hiking content to help hikers like you find amazing hikes in the Catskills, Adirondacks, Gunks, Hudson Highlands, Taconics and beyond.

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