best fire tower hikes in new york

15 Best Fire Tower Hikes to Explore in New York State

New York State has tons of hikes that lead you to amazing Fire Towers and in this post, I want to show you 15 of the best ones you can check out all across the state.

Fire Tower hikes in my personal experience are some of the coolest things to check out whenever I’m outdoors. To me, they are like rewards for finishing up a difficult hike and each one on this list has it’s own list of amazing benefits, including beautiful trails that lead to them, as well as awesome scenic views from the top when you finally reach it.

Here are the 15 best Fire Tower hikes you’ll only find in New York State:

best fire tower hikes in new york

  1. Sterling Forest Fire Tower.
  2. Beacon Fire Tower.
  3. Hunter Mountain Fire Tower.
  4. Red Hill Fire Tower.
  5. Ninham Mountain Fire Tower.
  6. Stissing Mountain Fire Tower.
  7. Sugar Hill Fire Tower.
  8. Spruce Mountain Fire Tower.
  9. Rondaxe Fire Tower.
  10. Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower.
  11. Poke o Moonshine Mountain Fire Tower.
  12. Overlook Fire Tower.
  13. Hadley Mountain Fire Observation Station.
  14. Azure Mountain Fire Tower.
  15. Blue Mountain Fire Tower.
  16. Bonus: Jackie Jones Fire Tower.

Every single one of these Fire Tower hikes lead to amazing scenery and nature spots all across New York State. But before you select which ones to try, make sure to read what to expect from them first (distance, difficulty, ect…):

1) Sterling Forest Fire Tower:

sterling forest state fire tower hike new york 03

Hiking distance to tower: 2-4 miles (depending on which side of Sterling Forest you start at).

Difficulty: Easy to moderate.

Location: It’s inside Sterling Forest State Park.

Description: While I’ve done Fire Tower hikes in the past, Sterling Forest and the one you’ll find there was the first one I ever did in New York State and it is definitely an experience.

The hike to reach it can be done from multiple ends as several trails lead to that exact spot. In my case, I began my hike to it from the western end of the park and it took me about 4 miles to reach the Fire Tower.

From it, you will get incredible views on all ends. To the west, you’ll see tons of mountains, the beautiful Greenwood Lake, as well as the town, and to the east, another smaller, but scenic lake called Sterling Lake.

The hike to reach this particular Fire Tower can be moderate at times and the trail (at least the one I took to get there) wasn’t well taken care of, but I really enjoyed that experience personally.

2) Beacon Fire Tower:

beacon fire tower hike breakneck ridge new york 01

Hiking distance to tower: 2-6 miles (multiple trails available to reach it).

Difficulty: Moderate to difficult.

Location: Hudson Highlands State Park, and specifically the Breakneck Ridge hike within it that leads there.

Description: Beacon Fire Tower was one of the more difficult Fire Tower hikes I did, especially considering that I did the most difficult version of it, which is via the Breakneck Ridge trail (a super popular day hike near NYC).

To reach it (at least via Breakneck Ridge), follow the white trail from the parking lot to Breakneck Ridge trailhead and take it all the way to end. You will then take the yellow trail down to reach the same parking lot. In total, this trail will be around 9 miles long.

If you want to take the shorter route, do the blue trail to the tower which is only about 2 miles one way (see official map of Hudson Highlands State Park for details).

As for the Fire Tower itself, it’s definitely going to provide you with amazing views, from the Hudson River Valley to even Manhattan from a distance.

3) Hunter Mountain Fire Tower:

hunter mountain fire tower hike new york 05

Hiking distance to tower: About 2-3 miles.

Difficulty: Moderate.

Location: Hunter Mountain (in the Catskill Mountains).

Description: This Fire Tower hike is very popular because it’s located a top Hunter Mountain, the largest mountain the Catskills.

And also nearby are other fun attractions like skiing, zip lining and much more (obviously, it’s seasonal).

This trail also intersects with the even more popular Devils Path.

Overall, if you are looking for amazing views and a great hiking trail in the Catskill Mountains, this one is certainly up at the top of the list.

Reaching it is not easy considering that Hunter Mountain is pretty tall, but it is a worthwhile hike to check out if you’re doing some sort of Fire Tower challenge.

4) Red Hill Fire Tower:

red hill fire tower hike new york 05

Hiking distance to tower: 1.5 miles.

Difficulty: Easy to moderate.

Location: South western end of the Catskill Mountains.

Description: Until I did some extra research, I had no idea that that the Catskill Mountains harbored more than 1 Fire Tower, but this is the second on the list (thus far).

The hike to reach it isn’t as difficult as the others on this list (so far), but it is still a fun hike to explore if you are in the western region of the Catskill Mountains.

Just as well, not too far from it is a popular attraction known as Peekamoose Blue hole which is a very (often crowded) swimming hole in the Catskills.

It may be something you’ll want to check out after your hike here, especially if you’re into swimming and diversifying your outdoor activities to more than just hiking.

5) Ninham Mountain Fire Tower:

Ninham Mountain fire tower hike new york 07

Hiking distance to tower: 100 feet.

Difficulty: Very easy.

Location: Ninham Mountain (near the town of Carmel Hamlet).

An hour east of Hudson Highlands State Park.

Description: This is one of the shortest Fire Tower hikes you’ll find on this list. It’s about 100 feet off the main road of Mt Ninham Ct.

But what it provides access to is amazing views as well, of many lakes, reservoirs and more. The location of this hike is in eastern New York, about 1 hour north of NYC itself.

The thing is, while the views are great, the mountain region here isn’t as grand as you would see in other spots like the Catskills, it’s still beautiful to check out and certainly a “hike” for people who aren’t looking to do anything crazy but still want to get great views.

6) Stissing Mountain Fire Tower:

Stissing Mountain fire tower hike new york 02

Hiking distance to tower: Less than 50 feet (other trails are available nearby so you can do a lot more).

Difficulty: Very easy.

Location: Stissing Mountain. This area is located east of the Hudson River, across from the Catskill Mountains.

Description: Here’s another super short hike to a Fire Tower, but one that leads to incredible views!

This hike can also be access very close to the road (Lake Road in this case).

And you will get a nice combination of mountains, meadows, towns and more all across once you climb to the top of it.

Stissing Mountain’s Fire Tower hike gets 5 star ratings from everyone who does it (at least from Google’s reviews) so be sure to check out this trail if you are in the region.

7) Sugar Hill Fire Tower:

Sugar Hill fire tower hike new york 09

Hiking distance to tower: Another one that is under 50 feet to reach.

Difficulty: Very easy.

Location: Finger Lakes New York, west of Seneca Lake.

Description: This might be one of the most “boring” Fire Tower hikes on the list folks, but the benefit of going here is that it’s located in Finger Lakes NY, an area which many (including myself) consider to be one of the most beautiful regions in the state.

If you do go to this hike, know that beside it being short, the views from the top might not be as good as what you’d find on the others within this list, but the great news is that you are not far from incredible nature spots and here are some you should check out:

8) Spruce Mountain Fire Tower:

spruce mountain fire tower hike new york 01

Hiking distance to tower: 1-2 miles.

Difficulty: Easy.

Location: In between Saratoga Springs and Lake George (a great stop to make if you’re going into this area).

Description: The hike to reach Spruce Mountain is pretty straight forward.

You just park your car by the trailhead and follow the Spruce Mountain Tower Road to reach it.

Once you do and climb it, you will be presented with awesome views of New York, specifically:

  • Lake George (north).
  • Adirondack Mountains (further north).
  • Catskills (south).
  • And much more.

Note: While Fire Tower hikes in the Adirondacks are worth exploring, so too are it’s trails. One in particular I recommend is the Avalanche Pass trail. There are also a bunch of beautiful Adirondack waterfall hikes to check out there too.

9) Rondaxe Fire Tower:

Rondaxe fire tower hike in new york 07

Hiking distance to tower: 500 feet.

Difficulty: Easy.

Location: Near Old Forge, New York.

Description: Rondaxe Fire Tower is one of the smallest towers you will find in New York, but once again, the scenery is what sells this place (as does every other Fire Tower hike out there).

The location of this spot is nestled in the middle of New York (northern part of it), but also in between many ponds and lakes making for incredible scenery everywhere you look.

The hike to get there is really simple, straight forward and there are a lot of other tourist attractions nearby to check out.

Be aware of large crowds within this region though (it’s obviously a very popular hike).

10) Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower:

Hurricane Mountain fire tower hike in new york 04

Hiking distance to tower: 1.5 miles.

Difficulty: Moderate.

Location: Not far from Keene, New York (Adirondacks).

Description: Hurricane Mountain’s Fire Tower is very similar in height to Rondaxe Tower (short), but like it, it too presents an amazing scenic opportunity, this time however of the Adirondack Mountains, the largest ones in all of New York State.

Nearby, you will also find awesome attractions, the top one I recommend would be Ausable Chasm, an incredible and super scenic gorge with hikes, river rafting and obstacle courses.

And just as well, be sure to check out the many waterfalls in this region too (there are many out there).

Onto to the next Fire Tower (and it’s nearby):

11) Poke o Moonshine Mountain Fire Tower:

Poke o Moonshine Mountain fire tower hike new york 06

Hiking distance to tower: 1 mile.

Difficulty: Moderate.

Location: Poke o Moonshine Mountain (Also the Adirondack Mountains).

Description: Poke o Moonshine Mountain is seriously one of the coolest looking mountains I have ever seen in my life (if you see it from Interstate 87 which I consider one of New York State’s best scenic drives).

And I’ve driven past it a few times, only getting close to it but never fully appreciating what it holds.

In this case (among many cool hiking trails), there is a Fire Tower located on top of it which too provides incredible views of the Adirondacks!

Just as well, it’s also closer to Ausable Chasm and because it too is close to Hurricane Mountain’s Fire Tower, you can do a multi layered hike in one day to them.

12) Goodnow Mountain Fire Tower:

Goodnow Mountain fire tower hike new york 04

Hiking distance to tower: 1 mile.

Difficulty: Moderate.

Location: A top Goodnow Mountain (south Adirondack Mountain region of New York).

Description: This particular Fire Tower hike was found by accident via this site, and if you look for it on Google maps, you will just see a listing for the mountain itself as well as the hike.

But make no mistake, there is a Fire Tower on top of it, which may be under construction as of this writing.

Be sure to research this spot before coming here so it’s not a wasted trip (you can check on Google).

Other than this, you will find a great view of Mt. Marcy and the Adirondacks in general here.

12) Overlook Fire Tower:

overlook fire tower hike new york 08

Hiking distance to tower: 2 miles.

Difficulty: Moderate.

Location: Near Woodstock,  New York (It’s south of the Catskill Mountain region).

Description: Overlook Mountain trail is an awesome trail that takes you to a beautiful, and scenic Fire Tower you can check out if you’re visiting the Catskill Mountains.

Additionally, this is nearby the town and region of Woodstock and there’s lots of extra stuff to see there.

In this case, the closest thing I would recommend checking out is the Overlook Mountain House Ruins (historic/tourist spot). It’s literally on the same trail and you’ll get to it before you reach the Fire Tower anyway.

It is honestly one of the coolest gems in all of the Catskills to check out (in addition to the Fire Tower hike nearby). And that’s just 2 of many things to see in that area.

13) Hadley Mountain Fire Observation Station:

Hadley Mountain fire tower hike new york 07

Hiking distance to tower: 1.5 to 2 miles.

Difficulty: Moderate.

Location: Off Tower Road, north of Allentown New York. You can easily find this spot on your GPS too.

Description: Hadley Mountain Fire Observation Station (that’s the full name you’ll want to input if you want to find it on Google) is very close to Spruce Town (the one close to Lake George) and is also a short, but scenic views type of place to check out.

Just as well, the town of Allentown is also worth checking out and for bigger, more tourist spots, Saratoga Springs is also very close by (the town south of Lake George).

There’s plenty of places to stay in either area so you can make either a day trip out of visiting this place or come here for a few days and pack in seeing several spots overall.

14) Azure Mountain Fire Tower:

azure mountain fire tower new york 02

Hiking distance to tower: 1/2 a mile.

Difficulty: Easy.

Location: East of Adirondack Park.

Description: This is another “by accident” Fire Tower hike I discovered but the views, ratings and surroundings are astounding.

You will basically get amazing mountain views, small little ponds tied together and excellent photogenic opportunities across the board with this hike (especially during sunset which is what you can see pictures of on Google to get an idea of how beautiful it can get here).

It isn’t even a difficult hike either, and generally speaking, it’s location is a bit “off the main roads” so I would only do this hike if you are (once again) truly into exploring the many Fire Towers in New York State.

And if you are, absolutely add this to your list too!

15) Blue Mountain Fire Tower:

blue mountain fire tower new york 01

Hiking distance to tower: 50 feet to 2 miles.

Difficulty: Easy to moderate.

Location: Near Blue Mountain Lake New York.

Description: There are 2 ways to reach this particular Fire Tower:

  • First, you can take Camp 1 road to it (might require a special pass), then walk to it (only 50 feet away).
  • Or you can hike to it from Blue Mountain Trail head which would be a 2 mile hike (4 miles out and back).

Views wise, you are in for a serious treat here. The lake and mountain views from the top of this Fire Tower and incredible!

One thing to be aware of is warnings people give about large crowds.

Generally speaking, most hiking trails (specifically the popular ones like this one) are packed on weekends and warm seasons.

16) Jackie Jones Fire Tower:

jackie jones harriman state park fire tower hike

Hiking distance to tower: 2 miles.

Difficulty: Easymoderate.

Location: Harriman State Park.

Description: This Fire Tower hike in NY recently came to my attention and it happens to be located in a park I frequently visit for my day hikes (Harriman State Park).

This particular Fire Tower has been closed and opened up over the years but in 2022, it seems to be open again.

To be sure it’s not a wasted hike, before you go here, check apps like Alltrails and see if there are any closings.

If it happens to be the case, the good news is that there’s plenty to explore in this park aside from this such as abandoned mines, famous trails like the Long Path, the Appalachian Trail and many beautiful hiking trails including Reeves Brook Loop Trail. Harriman State Park has a lot of things you can do.

Another awesome thing about these hikes: They are great to check out during autumn and there is a post I have here on the best places to see fall foliage in New York at, and some of the regions have Fire Towers in them, but you can easily add any of the ones here on that list too!

Other questions about these fire tower hikes in New York:

How long is the hike to Hunter Mountain Fire Tower?

It’s about a 1.5 mile hike to reach the Hunter Mountain Fire Tower in the Catskills.

How many fire towers are there in NY?

There are over 100 Fire Towers across New York.

Are Catskill fire towers open?

Most Fire Towers are open in the Catskills, but limited to how far up into them you can go.

How many fire towers are there in Catskills?

There are 6 Fire Towers located within the Catskills.

How many fire towers are in the Adirondacks?

The Adirondacks have over 20 Fire Towers.

How to find Fire Tower hikes near me (any state):

fire tower hikes near me

I use a simple strategy when I nature travel to find easy hikes near me and it applies to Fire Tower hikes, and here’s how it works:

  1. As you are driving to a certain nature region, simply open up your Google maps.
  2. Type in “Fire Tower”.
  3. If there is a popular Fire Tower hike near you, then it will show up.
  4. Sometimes you may need to expand your map area (look within a 20 mile radius) to find them.
  5. Once you do, check the reviews, make sure you know if it’s an easy or hard hike and see how long it is before you decide to go.

For example: Notice the image I attached here. I simply typed “Fire tower near me” in maps and I have well over 10 showing for the New England area.

Of course this is a very large range to look at, but obviously depending on which direction you are going in, if you see there is a Fire Tower on the way, you can mark it as a spot to visit on your way using this approach.

So whether you’re traveling in New York, or any other state I can tell you that if you use this strategy, you’ll be able to find Fire Towers just about anywhere they are actually around.

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    1. Hi Lillian, there are many camping spots around these Fire Towers and the best way to find the campgrounds is to use Google maps and select which Fire Tower you want to check out, then when Google finds it, type in camping and a list of nearby campgrounds should show up. As for staying inside one of them, I doubt that’s allowed.

  1. The information on Hadley Mountain Fire Tower seems to be incorrect as it references the trail is 300 feet. My family has hiked to this fire Tower for years. In our experience it is closer to 2 miles from the parking area. The views at the top are spectacular on a clear day.

    1. Hi I checked the distance and you’re right. I must have mistook it for a different Fire Tower on this list that’s close to the road. Thanks for mentioning this!

  2. I love the outdoors and hiking is so enjoyable because you get to see new & beautiful places while you keeping fit. These spots look absolutely amazing and I would love to visit some of them if I get to do a trip to New York one day. Thanks for sharing and I wanted to know do you do most of your hikes on your own? 

    1. Hi Janine, yes I do most of my hikes solo and this is normally because my schedule is more flexible than most other people I know and it’s also because I tend to do hikes at a fast pace most people aren’t comfotable with.

  3. Wow the pictures in this article are incredibly beautiful! Did you shoot them yourself as you did the tower hikes? Or do you yet have to complete all of them? I’m new to hiking so I thought of doing the hike to the Stissing Mountain Fire Tower. Any recommendations for first time hikers?

    1. Hi Sandro, I’ve done numerous fire tower hikes in this post, but so far have not completed all of them. However, I’m constantly adding and crossing off new hikes off this list. As for gear, there’s generally 3 things I recommend:

      Good trail shoes like the Salomon Speedcross 5.

      Hiking (trekking poles) like the Trailbuddy.

      Other than this, make sure to bring water, some snacks and make sure you now the map of the hike, even if it’s a short one.

  4. Okay, serious question, is climbing these fire towers legal? The people I’ve known to climb fire towers in the past have had to jump fences and scale up the side of the tower a bit to even get to where the stairs start (the lowest level of stairs were removed to discourage climbers). I imagine the views are amazing from the top!

    1. Well there are certain Fire Towers where access is limited or it’s closed off behind a gate. Of course in those situations, it’s illegal, but the Fire Towers I’ve listed here are totally open to the public (I’ve climbed several of them on this list myself). But of course, circumstances can change (maybe there’s damage, accidents, maintanence, ect…) so people need to check prior to hiking them.

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