Frum Outdoorsman: Rare but Possible

The wanderings and adventures of an orthodox Jew

Overlook Mountain: quick hike to amazing views

Posted by Frum Hiker on May 30, 2007

I had a couple hours to spare yesterday and happened to be off of work at 4:30 and in the city of Kingston. I debated with myself for a few minutes whether to ride some trails or go on a hike. Initially I felt that I didn’t have enough time for a hike that would actually take me somewhere cool. Then I decided on Overlook Mountain just outside of Woodstock- NY. The trail up the mountain is more of a gravel road that winds through dense forest with views in the fall and winter throughout the hike up. In the summer you have to go all the way to the top, where hikers are greatly rewarded with 360 degree views from atop the old fire tower.

Yesterday was a perfect day, bright sun, no clouds and roughly 70 degrees with a slight breeze. It was also very clear out, a true rarity in our pollution laden skies above New York State. I am always trying to find short hikes that get the heart rate up, give you a great view and allow them to be done when I have only a couple hours from the time I get out of work until it gets dark.

overlook mt

From the trail head which it is 2.0 miles to the top where the old ruins of the Overlook Mountain House still stand decaying on the fake summit of the mountain. A trail leads off at this point which goes to Echo Lake- a beautiful 2 mile hike which takes you to an amazing lake and lean to. You can also hike to Indian Head Mountain which can be seen from the top of Overlook directly to the North.

After reaching the old hotel, its another half mile to the very top, where there are outhouses, picnic table and an old fire tower. To the northwest it was clear, but to the south west and east it was a bit hazy. I could see the Kingston-Rhincliff Bridge spanning the Hudson with a splotch of city that was presumably Kingston. To the west the huge Ashokan Reservoir could be seen amongst the low lying hills and dense greenery. Slide mountain could also be seen through the haze, as it rise to the top of the western mountain range along route 47.

This was my first hike of the season by the way and even though I have been riding my bike a good 5 days a week, I felt completely out of shape. I am hoping to go on a few day solo backpacking trip next week, so I have decided to do some short quick, but strenuous hikes in the next few days to get my knees worked up.


11 Responses to “Overlook Mountain: quick hike to amazing views”

  1. Hey Hesh,

    It all sounds so picturesque and lovely, why don’t you take some photos of the places you go and share it with us.

  2. Unfortunately my anti conformist views have prohibited me from getting a digital camera and getting rid of all my camera bodies and lenses. Digital SLR cameras are still a fortune and I just cant make the switch. Maybe I will post up other peoples pictures.

  3. I returned to the Mountain Saturday. I rode my purple motorcycle from Pennsylvania for four hours in the early morning hours. I marvelled at how the machine eagerly sipped the cold morning air. It is often on rides like this that I achieve a meditative state as the syncopation of the exhaust note, and the blur of the landscape, and the rushing wind crowd my consciousness. I know my machine so well that as I apply the shifting of the gears, pull of the throttle, lean of the suspension, while the bike responds with controlled performance, agility and music. We are so integrated that it is hard to tell where the rider ends and the bike starts. Driving the backroads, through the farmlands splatterd with the colors of green and blue and yellows it is easy to imagine ourself as the paintbrush of the Lord against the canvas of his creation, painting a thick purple line from New Hope to Overlook Mountain.
    My ride was one of reconciliation. I oftentimes recite the Jesus Prayer “Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner”, as I ride along. Or I shout the Lord’s Prayer loud enough to hear the words wash over me above the roar of the engine.
    After four hours Iarrived at the Temple and was greeted by the same kind woman in the gift shop. I identified myself and told her of my wish to visit the temple. She graciously guided me to the entrance where I was meet by a Holy and pious man I later learned was the Abbot. He directed me to a woman who explained the holy images and writings and their significance which adorn the beautiful interior of the temple. I accepted her offer to sit and meditate in the temple where I asked forgiveness for my initial negative reaction to the monastery expansion, cleared my mind as much as possible, and allowed the positive energies of the temple and mountain to flow through me.
    After some time I stood on the back porch and beheld the awesome view of Overlook mountain which looms above the monastery walls. I quietly left the monastery and decided to scale the mountain. I am 58 years old, had no water and was unprepared for the steep ascent. Several times I turned and was about to go back but pushed myself onward by the encouragement of those who had already reached the top and were returning. Their testimony made me try harder. After much effort and considerable time I asked someone descending how far have I had gone only to friend out it was only a fourth or third the way up. Dejected and spent ,I pushed onward as best I could. It wasn’t until I reached the ruined hotel an hour later, that I thought I would make it. I stopped and pondered how magnificent a building it must have once been.
    Yet All buildings and works of man come to an end. The building became a metaphor for me on how our own self un-importance must be realized in order to assend on our own spiritual path.
    Much more struggling and dehydrated I made it almost to the top where I encountered a young couple descending. I joked that there better be a 7 eleven around the corner! They laughed and quickly assessed my situation and offered me some water which I graciously accepted. I thanked them and moved to the summit. At the edge of the overlook sat another young couple eating peanut butter and jelly and totally at peace with the spectacular view. I declined a sandwich admitting that I was awed by the view, yet afraid of physical heights. (spiritual perhaps also)I envisioned myself falling over the edge. I regained composer. enjoyed the view and after some time descended.
    There was much I learned on this trip, much yet to be descerned. May we all proceed in love and mutual understanding.
    christopher cole
    author of “The Closer’s Song”

  4. Dear Christopher Cole —— many times i ascended Overlook Mtn
    when I lived in Woodstock – Saugerties — Kingston area from
    1973-79. If I had a time of my life to chose to live again, it
    would be those years in that area. Particularly this time of
    year I miss it so much!! It is truly God’s country. I made a
    close friend of Bill Newgold (now deceased) whose grandfather
    built the Mountain House on Overlook. I think someone no owns
    the ruins and 1 acre it stands on. Newgold owned the Colony Inn
    the magnificient buildiint on Rock City Road Woodstock. Its
    been purchased and renovated and is in business now I have
    been told. Its been 15 yrs since I’ve seen the ruins on Overlook
    and 7 yrs since I’ve been in Woodstock. Its memory is magic to

  5. Frum Hiker said

    Luckily they are still there, despite many attempts by drunken kids to push the concrete walls down. I guess I am fortunate to live nearby in Albany and truly cherish that part of the State. I was just out west for 4 weeks and I missed NY state very badly.

    Today I rode 50 miles on my bike in the Cooperstown area and realized why I missed NY so much.

  6. AC said

    I have been there and have pictures to share if you’d like

  7. JOHN D said

    Yes I have to agree that the hike is long but well worth it. Its just about the most amazing thing to be up there. When I hiked up I had no water too and it was in the summer. Pretty stupid!!! Luckily someone hooked me up with some SO I WOULD DEFINATELY RECCOMEND THAT YOU BRING A GOOD BOTTLE OF WATER WHEN U HIKE THIS!!!!!!!
    It is an amazing experience and a good workout. You will feel like Moses climbing the mountain when you do..The whole area in Woodstock is beautiful and most of the town are cool and pleasant.

  8. JOHN D said

    Oh yeah Thanks JESUS for leading me on the great adventure of life and helping me out:)

  9. BJM CT said

    Is Overlook a good winter hike? I started hiking in CT and hiked to the summit of Acra Point on 10/12/08. The Catskills are more beautiful than anywhere in CT. I would like to hike another peak this winter and read Overlook has magnificent views but is rattlesnake infested in the summer.

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  11. Thanks for finally talking about >Overlook Mountain: quick hike to amazing views « Frum Outdoorsman: Rare
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