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If you think you've trained hard enough to hike this trail your probably wrong. Keep your pack light and bring water filtration to save the weight. If at all possible stage your camp at the Devils Tombstone campground. The first half will take between 8-12 hours to complete. It was nice to hike into a prepared camp and recoup for the next days 2nd half hike. The second half starts with a long never ending grade that will tax your aching legs but isn't as difficult as the first half. Make sure you hydrate like crazy at Diamond notch falls. I completed half the hike once and the whole hike the next year after I trained all winter. Well worth the climb because the views are spectacular. I can't wait to do it again while recording it on All trails

Beautiful monastery at the base of the trail you can tour and cool abandoned hotel towards the top of the trail with beautiful views at the fire tower! Steep wide trail.

Best hike in a while. Not too challenging but the views are well worth the trip.

great views and intresting history.

If you are climbing this in the winter you will not be able to park at the trailhead. Plan on parking .5 miles before the trailhead at the snowplow turnaround. Microspikes were helpful in some sections of the trail, and useless in others. Overall a good hike. Beware of ice on the tower if you decide to climb it. The summit is very well maintained!!

Am awesome hike today .

This is one of the easier hikes I’ve done in the Catskills. I got immediately off trail (which is easy to do at the start) and walked into Elm Ridge Forest, passing a long line of dramatic rock outcroppings. I would recommend doing this: take a slight left at the sign for the LEAN TO. Back on the main trail, there are some beautiful woods to walk through, especially two tall hardwood forests which were really magical; I’ll come here again just to walk through these two stands. Some views of the Blacks on the way up to the summit which is flat and exposed, with wonderfully gnarly trees on either side of the trail. On a clear day, the view north from the eastern ledge must be pretty good.

hiking
19 days ago

We hiked to the Tremper fire tower but from the Willow trailhead. There isn't an Altrails map for that route but I have suggested one. There is now good parking off the road at Willow (near the end of Jessup Road). There is no trail register yet. Great hike, steep in places but wonderful views most of the way. Our recorded mileage was 7.4 miles.

We hiked to Balsam Lake Fire Tower for the ADK/Catskills fire tower challenge. This is the only map available for the northern approach. It was a great trail. Lots of parking and clearly marked trail. I have suggested a trail edit by having just the trail to Balsam Lake for those only wanting to hike to the fire tower.

1/1/2019 Awesome Trail one of the most extreme hikes I've ever been on, halfway up there is thick ice and lots of snow barely made it up but we did,not for the faint of heart. my friend had sneakers on too lol, it was snowing and the sky look ed crazy so once we reached the tower it looked like a base on antarctica,. definetely would recommend any time of year. on the way down we just slid on our butts and it was so fun got most of the way down in a few minutes but almost died a few times, good times, good times

Consistent incline. Good wide dirt trail. Hotel ruins are cool to see. Fire tower at top offers nice view as does another spot 50 yards away. Rattlesnake signs posted near top of trail. Ranger was knowledgeable and helpful.

Great hike, the ruins are wonderful. No views due to the weather.

Although the car park is of good size get there EARLY because its a popular trail. It was almost full when we got there about 9.30am.

The trail is a well defined single-track road which can only be considered "moderate" because of the sustained incline. I can see how some consider it boring. My only thought on the way up was how beautiful it must be in the spring when the abundant rhododendrons are in bloom.

Currently there is a deceptive light covering of snow on the trail. What it hides is the numerous thick sheets of ice which only become more frequent the higher you get. WEAR YOUR SPIKES, your body will thank you for it. I had many conversations with people who were asking me about my micro-spikes; hopefully taking the time to direct them to REI / EMS will inspire a couple of them.

The hotel ruins looked fantastic in the low cloud cover. Hauntingly so.

The firetower looked great against the pure white surrounding cloud cover. It was very blustery as weather started to move in but we found shelter behind the ranger hut to make lunch and coffee. Only saw two other people at the summit even though we saw many more on the trail.

CAUTION: BE AWARE, coming down the trail in winter was the slipperiest trails I’ve ever done. Fell down a total of 20 times. WEAR ICE SPIKES, or shoes with very good traction. Overall the view was amazing and the ruins were incredible, with an interesting story behind it. Would recommend for summertime!

Great trail! Steepest trail I’ve hiked in the Catskills. View at fire tower is beautiful. Current trail conditions (12/30/2018) INCREDIBLY icy on the steepest parts of the trail. Microspikes and poles are a must! If not you will break yourself coming down this mountain. The best views in the Catskills on a hike I’ve seen as well. So much fun just be safe and smart with your gear. Mileage is actually 5.0 miles if take blue trail markers to yellow trail markers.

Hiked on 12/29/18. Trail conditions: clear and down leaves near trailhead and first incline, increasingly muddy towards giants ledge, and hard packed ice and snow beyond that. Microspikes and poles were extremely helpful. Summited in about two hours and returned in the same time and took very few breaks. Very nice views along Giants Ledge, but you get more or less the same from the rock outpost near the summit. Overall, a good challenge for a first time hike of this trail.

Great hike that was super challenging for me. It’s a steady climb to the top, with lots of mud and some icy patches. Snow flurries accompanied me the entire way. Definitely would have benefited me to have some trekking poles on the way down. The view is amazing. I felt like I was kissing the clouds. The hotel ruins are both creepy and intriguing! Definitely an awesome hike.

I hiked Giant Ledge solo last year and liked it so much I brought 3 friends up this past Oct. We hiked up to Panther Summit then back down to one of the Giant Ledge campsites and stayed overnight. Weather was warmer than normal so it was very comfortable. At night it went from great views of the stars to total cloud cover and windy. Great views especially at sunrise. Overall it was challenging but not too bad. Muddy in spots if there is recent rain. Pack as light as possible and make sure you use trekking poles although you will need to climb in certain areas. I went during the week so crowds were not an issue. Overall a great experience and I would definitely go back.

hiking
27 days ago

Steep ascent. I got drawn off to East Rusk on the way down. Easier (but longer) to climb the shoulder of East Rusk.

Fun hike. Not to hard to navigate the rock ledges on the way up.

hiking
28 days ago

Great view from the top, from both the lookout and the tower and the ruins were interesting to explore. The hike is consistently uphill on a fire road, and as its a road not the most exciting hike. Quite icy in patches!

love this trail hardest trail around.

There was a coating of ice on top of the snow which made for slippery conditions. Bring micro spikes or crampons. Once you make it to the hunters cabin(private property), look to the right and follow the blue paint blaze for Vly. There wasn't any views at the top but there were a couple of spots where you could see out through the trees. Once you make it back down, follow the snowmobile trail to the top of Bearpen. There was a pretty big clearing and lookout just past the summit. No canister on Bearpen.

Great view from the top and the ruins are awesome to explore. It is however extremely congested with riff raff from the city. Even on a 0 degree day people were everywhere. That definitely takes the adventure out of a hike.

The first 30 minutes are tough it’s all uphill, there was snow which made it harder but the hotel and the view at the top were worth the hike!!!

This was not a hard bushwhack to navigate, but breaking trail will tire you out. The water crossings weren’t any problems, but the snow drifts upwards of the summit was deep and I sunk down deep in places. I didn’t make it to the summit of Fir but I’ll be back for it.

Did this one as part of the Catskill Firetower Challenge. The biggest challenge is perhaps just making it to the trailhead as it’s rather remotely located. The hike was a very quick jaunt to the top to see the observers cabin, luxury outhouse and of course the tower. The views were good from the tower.

I consider this hike to be like a salad and steak type of hike. The road to the top (which is 2.5 miles making this actually a 5 mile hike) is rather mundane. However, when you get to the hotel ruins, it’s fascinating to explore. You then do the last pitch up to the summit to see a great Firetower and without a doubt the best views in the Catskills. We got there at 8:00 and got good parking. We were back at 10:15 and the parking lot was full. There is more parking 1/2 mile up the road, but this will add a mile to your hike. The best Firetower hike in the Catskills.

I’m probably not giving this trail the best review I could because I did this one right after hiking Hunter. The trail, while reasonable, just seemed to go on and up forever. It was also incredibly windy and bitingly cold. The Firetower is in good shape and the views were good. I’d like to try this one without having done something like Hunter first.

I really liked this hike, although the trail goes up, up and up some more. I did Hunter just before Tremper, so perhaps I didn’t get a fair assessment of it. It was extremely cold and blustery on the summit. Great views. No microspikes needed quite yet, lots of mud/water at the lower elevations. A great hike though.

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