If we are feeling up for a little vigor, a hike up Stissing Mountain is on the agenda. There is access off of Route 82, turn west at the firehouse and follow the road around until you see a path and pull off for parking. It is not a long hike and you are rewarded on top to a climb up the fire tower with 360 degree views the Berkshires to the east and the Catskills to the west. I have witnessed majestic bald eagles soaring below.
The Stissing Fire Tower stands on one acre of ground, both of which are owned by Friends of Stissing Landmarks (FOSL), a not-for-profit organization created to save and preserve the tower for public enjoyment. The shortest and easiest point of access is from Lake Road in Pine Plains, just down from the Thompson Pond Preserve entrance on the bend of the road. The ascent to the tower begins by crossing approximately 100 yards of Nature Conservancy property, after which the trails cross private property all the way to the tower. The climb takes about 45 minutes for most people, allowing a few short breaks along the way. At one point the trail upward clearly separates. To the left is the shortest route up, but it is the steepest. To the right is a more gradual ascent using an old trail formerly used by the fire watchers who went to work on board an old Jeep. The trail has deteriorated greatly since that time and is traversable only on foot today. Hikers are advised that the terrain is rugged and occasionally wet in spots so the use of sturdy footwear is greatly encouraged. Please stay on the trails since the natural environment is fragile. In early spring and late fall, it can get quite cool at the top of the tower. It is always windy up there. At these times a light jacket is welcome. Don’t forget your camera or binoculars and water.
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