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Ferncliff Forest Preserve and Tower

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  • Ferncliff Forest Preserve and Tower



    Ian provided a couple of posts on VFTT about the construction of a new tower at the Ferncliff Forest Preserve in Rhinebeck NY. I had seen the tower several times from the Kingston-Rhinecliff bridge over the Hudson River, and I had been waiting for an optimal day to visit and photograph the views. The tower had originally served as a fire tower in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Following its decommission is was dissembled and brought to NY.

    Previously there had been three towers at the Ferncliff Forest. The preserve was once a farm owned by John Jacob Astor. The Astor family built a stone tower for their own sightseeing. It was followed by a wood tower built by the Geodetic Survey, and another wood tower built by the Army Corps of Engineers during WWII for early warnings of possible air attacks. The third tower was retained after the war as a sightseeing tower. It had fallen into disrepair and had been closed for many years. It was finally torn down last summer. The new tower provides better views than all of the prior towers because of its greater height.

    On Monday October 22, I made the short (under one mile) hike up to the recently (July) completed tower on top of Mount Rutsen. The preserve is located on Mount Rutsen Road just north of Rhinebeck NY. I had posted some directions in the VFTT thread. Good foliage viewing should continue well into next week.

    Click any of the thumb nails to access the photo gallery. It was an amazing early fall day in the Hudson Valley under an amazing sky:
    The view from the tower has one of the best sweeping views of the Catskill Mountains from the east:
    It includes a view of the Kingston-Rhinecliff bridge over the Hudson River and encompasses both the northern escarpment of the Catskills:
    and Slide Mountain among the southern Catskills:
    The view to the east is extends to Stissing Mountain, the site of another fire tower:
    Last edited by Mark Schaefer; 06-21-2010, 12:38 AM.
    “Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right.” Henry Ford
    My Photos: http://community.webshots.com/user/CatskillHiker

  • #2
    Amazing photos.
    The new fire tower is great news.
    I wonder where the impetus and the funds came from to buy it?
    Ferncliff is a nice place to mountain bike; a local scout troup built a cool little trail to add to the existing trails. I haven't been there in a couple of years, though. Will definitely be checking that tower out soon.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Deb View Post
      I wonder where the impetus and the funds came from to buy it?
      At the parking lot there is a small box which contains a small brochure about the tower and the fund raising effort. It mentions that although the construction is 100% complete, the tower is only 50% paid for. So to pay for the tower purchase and construction, the Ferncliff Forest board is still collecting tax deductible donations and selling some souvenirs. The Ferncliff Forest website with some information and history.

      The parking lot was enlarged both last year and again this year - currently accommodating about 20 vehicles. A new lean-to was also constructed on the east tower trail. Camping is allowed by obtaining a permit in advance. An existing lean-to, cabin, and small picnic pavilion are also at the pond.
      “Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right.” Henry Ford
      My Photos: http://community.webshots.com/user/CatskillHiker

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      • #4
        Mark--Nice shots--I'm not familiar w/ the area--What peaks are we looking at in the Catskill shots? I took the scenic route home from Peekamoose on Monday--a route new to me via RT55 and Rt52--just fantastic scenery along the Roundout Resevoir and the Roundout Overlook was completely unexpected.
        Just found the caption--duh

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        • #5
          I did add some more mountains to the captions. It is always a challenge to figure out those little peaks between the southern and northern Cats. They all seem to jostle for position and jump over one another to get their mug into a shot.

          Bill, I did look through your pictures from Monday when you had much the same sky as I did. You got some good shots and the polarizer really does add a lot of color. Route 55 by the Rondout Reservoir does indeed have some nice scenery, as does Route 52 past Cragsmore. The descent on Route 52 from Woodbourne to Ellenville is also a nice drive with views of the Gunks. You can cut over from Grahamsville on Route 42 to get to Route 52.
          “Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right.” Henry Ford
          My Photos: http://community.webshots.com/user/CatskillHiker

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          • #6
            The sky was incredibly blue on Monday--And the clouds were very cool, and no haze to speak of til later in the afternoon--a real treat--I think the blue was made more so by the fall colors.

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            • #7
              I had a chance to visit Ferncliff Forest and climb the new tower today. Really, it is amazing. With all the liability issues, who puts up fire towers these days?
              There were excellent sweeping views of the Hudson River.
              The metal steps were new. The cab was open.
              I also checked out the new lean-to below the tower, a handsome structure made of what looked like white cedar logs. Someone had left a lot of trash inside and underneath, but they also left a cardboard box, which came in handy for packing it all out.

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