Back in July this year, Department of Environmental Conservation introduced Catskills Fire Tower Five Challenge. All participants who complete all Five Towers between July 11, 2019, and December 31, 2019 will receive a certificate, a set of commemorative pins, a one-year subscription to Conservationist Magazine, and will be entered to win great hiking accessories. The first 500 participants who complete the challenge will receive a free Empire Pass for the season and will be eligible for a commemorative special edition New York State license plate featuring the Catskills. If you want to know more about the challenge you can click on the link below.
Those who would like to complete this challenge in 1 day are more than welcome to join me this upcoming Saturday, October 12 for this 24 miles long Marathon. The order in which we will be hiking all Five Fire Towers is as follows:
Red Hill: 3 miles round trip, Elevation 2,990 feet (from Coons Road)
Balsam Lake: 6 miles round trip, Elevation 3,723 feet (from Mill Brook Road)
Hunter: 4 miles round trip, Elevation 4,040 feet (via Becker Hollow)
Tremper: 6 miles round trip, Elevation 2,740 feet (via Old Route 28).
Overlook: 5 miles round trip, Elevation 3,140 feet (from Meads Mountain Road)
Total hiking distance: 24 miles with 7,700 ft. of elevation gain. Total driving distance between the towers: 97.2 miles and the total driving time: around 3 hours.
We will start hiking at 6:00 am sharp from the Coons Rd. at the bottom of Red Hill Mt. While it is not a race, we will be moving at a brisk hiking pace. I do not plan on taking breaks at each Fire Tower for any longer than it is necessary to take a picture at each location to provide DEC with a proof of completion. I also do not intend on having a lunch break in Phoenicia. Every participant is expected to use driving time in-between the Fire Towers as a break. Therefore bringing a cooler with food and water supplies would be a good idea.
Since we will be hiking relatively short distances throughout the entire day, you won’t need to carry a heavy backpack with you, unless you want too. A running vest, belt with some snacks and water or a small cycling backpack will be sufficient enough. Having said that, I won’t let anyone join the group, who will show up without a headlamp and extra batteries. Keep in mind that at least part of the Red Hill Mountain and Overlook Mountain will be most likely hiked in a complete darkness.
It will be a long day so please make sure that you bring with you comfortable shoes, a change of clothes, rain jacket and a pair of gloves and a hat as the early morning hours tend to be much colder.
See you on the trails!
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