RED HILLS FIRE TOWER – Elevation 2,990 feet, Peekamoose Wild Forest, Town of Denning
It is 60’ in height and has nine flights of stairs and was constructed in 1921. The tower is listed on the National Historic Lookout Register and has been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places.
It affords an unsurpassed view of the Catskill high peaks to the west and north, and the Rondout Reservoir is visible to the southeast. It provides a panoramic view of the largest area of productive forest land (outside of the Catskill Forest Preserve) in the region. It was the last fire tower staffed, along with Hunter Mountain.
HIKING TRAILS TO TOWER
The staircase is open at Red Hill Fire Tower. The top cab is open on weekends and holiday Mondays from Memorial Day through Columbus Day, and volunteer interpreters will be present on the mountain.
Access is a 1.5 mile path. To get to the NYS Trail Parking Area take County Route 19 through Claryville. Make a right turn onto Red Hill Road. Take Red Hill Road past Schultz Road and make a left onto Coons/Dinch Road. Go up the gravel road past Rudolph Road and then down the hill. The NYS Trail Parking Area will be on your left. For more information call (845) 985-7274.
PERSPECTIVE – RED HILL’S LAST RANGER
The following excerpt is from an article entitled: “Tower Power” printed in the Ulster County Record Weekly, Middletown, N.Y. 10940, Sunday, September 27, 1997:
Being a forest fire “observer” is like being a mountain man, says Don Wood, the Red Hill fire tower’s last ranger. It’s just you and nature. “But there was always something to do, says the Claryville resident. “moving, painting the tower, working on the cabin, repairing the road, marking trails. You were alone a lot, but I loved it. I love being in the woods. Wood’s great-great uncle hauled the tower to the top of Red Hill by horse and buggy in the 1920s, he says. His grandfather hauled a similar one to the top of High Point above Ellenville. His family’s history and that of the area’s fire towers are as thickly intertwined as the mountain laurel. “It was the view more than anything that was the attraction,” he says. “On a clear day I could see five states – from the Massachusetts Berkshires in one direction to the Poconos in Pennsylvania to the other.” People would hike up and the ranger/observer would point them to the best pickings, or, if they were hunters, the best game. “I go back every once in awhile to visit and check on things,” Wood says. “I miss it. I’m like a wood chuck who dug himself a hole. It was home.”