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Monday, October 14, 2013

Beebe Hill

A beautiful Columbus Day found me out and about in Columbia County at Beebe Hill State Forest in Austerlitz, NY.  Beebe Hill rises 300 feet above the surrounding Taconic uplands and has a fire tower at the summit with 360 degree views in all directions.  Very close to the parking area is a small nineteenth century cemetery.  Dating back to the 1800's, the western slopes of the Taconic Range were far more populated than they are today, and most families relied on farming the land.  Unfortunately the land was not well suited to farming and eventually most of the population headed to the western parts of the state in search of new opportunities.  This cemetery is a reminder of some of those early settlers who lived here.
The actual fire tower trail starts at the far end of the parking lot, near Barrett Pond.  It is a one mile walk up moderate slopes with two bridge crossings.

 Near the summit is a plateau, where a volunteer built lean to graces the area.  A small fire pit sits just outside the lean to and is a nice spot to sit and relax.
Just past the lean to is a small vernal pond, called Opal Pond.
A very short distance further the trail opens up to a large clearing, where an old ranger cabin stands and the fire tower sits on the far side of the field.  The fire tower is open to the public and although it is steep, it well worth the effort to climb up.
As you ascend the steps, views begin to open up, until you finally reach the top and there are gorgeous views in all directions to be had.

 After lingering on the fire tower for quite a while, soaking in the sunshine and soft breeze, I eventually forced myself to go down.  For the return walk, I decided to take the truck trail back.  It is a much more open trail but roughly the same distance as the main trail.  The fall weather, made for a beautiful trek back down the hill.

 Near the end of the woods road is a gate and shortly thereafter is serene Barrett Pond.  The fall colors were reflected beautifully.
Looking towards the southern end of the pond.
After leaving the pond's shoreline, I arrived back at the parking lot, completing a very satisfying afternoon hike.

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