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  • Writer's picturelil pines

Hunter Mountain

The Hunter Mountain Fire Tower in the Catskills was frosty when we visited. The tower was the first built in the Catskills region and sits at the highest elevation of all the towers in New York State.

We started out on Spruceton Road in West Kill, and stayed left to follow the Spruceton Horse Trail up the mountain. The trail narrows and the incline grows steadily, but even though we had a few inches of fresh snow, there was plenty of traction, even towards the top.

Clouds were rolling in and out once we hit a certain elevation, and the fresh dusting of snow made everything dramatically monochromatic.

The tower itself was crusted with thick ice, but there was still enough traction to climb up the stairs. The cab at the top was closed for the day, but we waited on the stairs near the top for the clouds to occasionally clear and give us a view of the rolling, snow-dusted Catskills below. The weather was generally pretty mild for a late November morning, but a few stairs up on this tower, the wind was whipping and pretty bitter cold. The views were worth the effort though.

A keeper of the key to the cabin happened to be visiting at the same time as us, so we got to peek inside the caretaker's cabin, which is generally only open in the warmer seasons.

On the hike back down the Spruceton Horse Trail, we took a tiny detour to check out the John Robb lean-to and it's overlook. The lean-to was in excellent condition, and had a great fire pit. The spot sits above a rocky ledge, and although it's close to the Spruceton Horse Trail, the short path down to the lean-to involves some rock climbing.

Even in snow and some ice, the trail was in excellent condition. Back at the bottom, we stopped at West Kill Brewery, nearby on Spruceton Road, for a beer at their awesome fire pit. We'd love to visit the mountain again in the warmer months, although there was something really special about the stillness of the fresh snow, and the snowy contours of the mountains below.


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