By WILLIAM SHANNON
Hiking up to the Stissing Mountain firetower in Pine Plains is an adventure that can be completed in full in about two hours.
My brother and I recently took the hike for a brief getaway and found the hike (taking the steeper of two trails) to be a good little challenge with a worthwhile view atop the old tower. The hike itself makes for a good primer if you’re looking to hike larger peaks in the Catskills, Adirondacks or elsewhere.
There’s a small parking lot on the side of Lake Road, which is off Route 199 in Pine Plains, across from a trailhead for Thompson Pond.
While my brother and I started on the trail, leaves from the overhanging trees kept us dry for the first fifteen minutes or so of a steady rain.
Not far in, the trail forks. To the right is the longer and more gradual path—an old Jeep trail that was used to access the firetower. We took the trail to left, which is shorter and steeper.
It’s the kind of trail that kicks you into a lower gear and gets you panting pretty good. If you make it up this trail without becoming miserable, hiking in the Catskills and Adirondacks for longer adventures will probably be enjoyable for you.
The payoff at the top of Stissing Mountain is the aging firetower.
The climb up the creaky old thing’s narrow, winding staircase didn’t seem to faze my brother, but my mild fear of heights sparked a bit of vertigo, making me place each footstep carefully.
At the little observation booth up top, there’s comical graffiti and far-reaching views of lakes, ponds and rolling hills.
We found where the gradual trail met the firetower and walked that path back down to the trailhead, thinking and planning for grander hikes.