Fire Tower Challenge

Background Information

Whether it’s the view from the summit or from the tower—or the experiences en route— “fire tower fever” grips you right away and there’s no turning back. Sound familiar? Then you’re a person for whom the Glens Falls-Saratoga Chapter of the ADK (Adirondack Mountain Club) has created the Fire Tower Challenge.

Consider the spectacular views of the surrounding hills and valleys. Consider the wildlife you may see along the way and the botanically interesting vegetation on the summits. And consider that for some 50 – 70 years the cabs atop these towers were the outlooks of “fire spotters,” observers whose lonesome vigil was broken only occasionally by visits from the public.

What is the Fire Tower Challenge?

The Fire Tower Challenge begins with the publication of the guidebook, Views from on High: Fire Tower Trails in the Adirondacks and Catskills by John P. (Jack) Freeman. The Challenge hikes are described in detail, along with a fascinating essay describing the history of Forest Preserve fire towers by noted historic preservationist Wesley H. Haynes. The book is published by ADK.

To buy Views from on High call 1-800-395-8080 (8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Mon. through Sat.), visit our Lake George or Heart Lake facilities or purchase online from the ADK Online Store, It is also available from bookstores and outdoor retailers.

You don’t need to be a member of ADK to take part in the Challenge.

Check out Arete’s Fire Tower Challenge t-shirt. Portions from the sale of this shirt support ADK’s efforts to protect natural places.

“Today my wife, Debbie and I, hiked Pillsbury as our final fire tower in the NYS Fire Tower Challenge. Somehow this became subtitled the Pillsbury Doughboy climb and we cooked up the half baked idea if you are hiking Pillsbury you ought to be wearing a chef’s hat and oven mitts.” Excerpted from a letter by John & Debbie Studecki

“For me, this challenge has been more than just a set of destinations. It has been a journey full of discoveries in nature, in history and in the people I love. It has been a delight. – Phyllis Stoker

Adirondack Fire Towers

  • Adams
  • Mount Arab
  • Azure Mountain
  • Bald Mountain (Rondaxe)
  • Belfry Mountain
  • Black Mountain
  • Blue Mountain
  • Cathedral Rock
  • Goodnow
  • Gore Mountain
  • Hadley Mountain
  • Hurricane Mountain
  • Kane Mountain
  • Loon Lake Mountain
  • Lyon Mountain
  • Owls Head Mountain
  • Pillsbury Mountain
  • Poke-O-Moonshine
  • Snowy Mountain
  • Spruce ( Trail closed during big game hunting season )
  • St Regis
  • Stillwater ( Trail closed during big game hunting season )
  • Vanderwhacker
  • Wakely Mountain
  • Woodhull Mountain

Catskill Fire Towers

  • Balsam Lake
  • Hunter Mountain
  • Overlook Mountain
  • Red Hill
  • Tremper Mountain

The Winter Fire Tower Challenge!

Since 2010 the Glens Fall-Saratoga Chapter of ADK offers a new Fire Tower Challenge: the Winter Fire Tower Challenge. Climb 18 of the Adirondack mountains with fire towers and all five in the Catskills between December 21 and March 21 and you can earn a rocker for your Fire Tower Challenge patch. You can keep track of your climbs on the regular brochure, noting at the top of the form that it’s the Winter Challenge.

Please note that like the regular Fire Tower Challenge, it is not necessary to climb the actual towers. In fact, it is inadvisable to climb an icy fire tower. Some trailhead parking areas might not be plowed in winter presenting access challenges. Winter hiking while exciting can be more strenuous especially if the trail has not been previously tracked-out and there are less daylight hours with shorter periods of twilight.

Rules of the Fire Tower Challenge

  • To complete the Challenge and receive the official full-color patch, hikers must climb and document, by date, ascents of at least 23 fire tower summits: 18 of 23 Adirondack Park summits and all 5 Catskill Park summits. Climbing each tower itself is not required, nor in fact recommended, for those towers that have not been restored for safe public use.
  • The mountain should have a standing fire tower on the date of your ascent. Two of the Adirondack towers described in Views from on High have been removed. (View the Summit List PDF for the updated list. )
  • When registering the dates of your climb, be sure to use extra sheets of paper to describe details of interest: weather, wildlife sightings, your impressions, your companions—and whatever else caught your attention. We really want you to share your experiences with us, so please be expressive.
  • Send the Summit List and additional pages – name and address on each—along with a check for $3.00 per patch. (Kids 15 and under are free.) Make checks payable to “ADK Glens Falls-Saratoga Chapter” and send to: Fire Tower Challenge, Glens Falls-Saratoga Chapter ADK, P.O. Box 2314, Glens Falls, NY 12801