This past weekend’s Catskill Mountain hike was a return to Overlook Mountain, the first hike I took when I was working on my Hiking Merit Badge back in Boy Scouts. I also chose it because it was a quick hop down Route 9W or Thruway from Albany.
Not getting as early of a start as I would have liked, I arrived at the trail at around 8 AM. There was only one other car when I got there, it was packed by the time I leftbe aware if you plan hiking there. It was a nice clear morning on Sunday, and I made it up to the Catskill Mountain house around 9 AM, and to the fire tower around 9:30 AM. It was an easy hike up, following a well maintained authorized-vehicle only road, although somewhat more difficult psychologically, as you could see a quarter mile or more of the road, as it sloped uphill, sometimes at a 10-15% grade. It was not particularly warm at this hour, but I stopped frequently to snap pictures and stay hydrated.
The ruins over the Overlook Mountain House (2.0 miles from parking area on Meads Mountain Road), was bigger then I last remember it. It was too bad it burned, although it’s kind of neat how the general public can inspect it and think how grand it must of been in the 1920s when it opened, and people drove up there in their Cadillacs of the era. I walked around and snapped some pictures. Then I went up to the fire tower, about 1/2 mile further. It was windy, and it appeared there was a gate closing it off, but I pushed it open and went right up. I didn’t go all the way to the top at first, because I have a little bit fear of heights remaining. I snapped several dozen of pictures.
There also is a trail with southerly view, allowing you to sit and look out over the Hudson River, Woodstock, mountains South of Overlook, and the Ashokian Reservoir. I can’t imagine how beautiful it must look in summer with everything nice and green. I took some notes, pictures, and just gazed at the landscape.
I then decided to head down the mountain. But it was early, around 11 AM, so I decided to go for a hike down to Echo Lake. It looked pretty from the fire tower. I had forgotten I had been down there, during the Boy Scout hike, until I reached the turn off for the Echo Lake trail. The trail from the fire tower to Echo Lake trail turn off, also known as the Overlook Mountain Blue trail, is a gentle descent, following a long abandoned old woods road, complete with extensive grading for travel by automobiles. It’s no longer passable by cars, but remains of the fairly extensive cut and fill can be seen. Some snow and ice where on the trail, and parts where muddy, but no part too bad. This section is 2.0 miles.
The yellow trail down to Echo Lake is somewhat steeper. You descend a lot of altitude in 0.6 miles. Echo Lake is relatively small, but pretty. There is a lean-to down there, along with an established camping area near the lake. The lean-to appeared to be well used and older. It arrived there around noon time. Spend about a half hour there.
The trail from Echo Lake back up to the fire tower was not a bad hike. Passed several hikers, and made it back to the fire tower around 1:30 PM. It was amazing how much the light had changed in 3 hours. It went all the way up the tower this time, as the wind wasn’t blowing so hard, and also to the overlook. Around 2 PM, descended the trail and headed back to the truck. I arrived back around 2:45 PM. It was an easy hike down, although you had to keep holding yourself back.
See more photos from this hike in the Central Catskills Photos Series.
Hikers – Trail Head
House – Catskill Mountain House Ruins
Flag – Overlook Mountain Fire Tower
Tent – Echo Lake Lean-To
View Overlook Mountain / Echo Lake Hike in a larger map