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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.
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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.
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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…
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:
- 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;
- 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;
- 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.)
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…
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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.
If you do this hike, LMK how it went…
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
No service at trailhead but patchy service above the 1750’ contour My network is Verizon. YMMV.