Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Stillwater Fire Tower


 ~Article written and pictures taken by Linda M. Heistman,
Publicity Clerk, Old Forge Visitor Information Center.
 
I find it quite fascinating that Verplanck Colvin was out surveying all over the Adirondacks, even before there were any decent roads. He was the one who oversaw the building of the first wooden Stillwater Fire Tower in 1882. Colvin was a pioneer in both exploration and in conservation. While tree cutting and the lumber industry were still destroying our woods and clogging up the waterways, Colvin was one of the leaders trying to protect, restore, and preserve our wilderness areas.

Colvin’s original wooden fire tower on Stillwater Mountain was replaced by another wooden fire tower in 1912. Then in 1919 the steel fire tower was built, and this is the one that still stands on Stillwater Mountain today. But in 1988, the tower was closed because it was in need of repairs.
 

In 2009, the restoration process of the historic fire tower began. It was reopened in 2016, with amazing results. The tower offers views that boast sights of some of the high peaks to the east, and the wind towers of Tug Hill to the west.  It is educational as well. In the cab at the top of the tower is a very helpful map, with a pointer that helps sightseers know what they are looking at. The corners of the inside of the cab are marked with each direction - east, west, south, and north.  
 
Many hard-working volunteers, The Friends of Stillwater Mountain, and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) have truly made this a great monument.

The best part about this tower is that it’s a very easy 2-mile round-trip hike, making it an adventure that the whole family can enjoy.

You can find this fire tower trail by turning off of Route 28 onto Big Moose Road  in Eagle Bay, NY. Drive all the way to Big Moose, to where the pavement ends and a backcountry dirt road begins. This dirt road has a sign that reads “Stillwater 10 mi”. 
Where the pavement ends and the dirt road begins
Follow this road about 7.5 miles to the trailhead parking on the left. This trip will be a good memory, but it does take some planning to do it, as it is about a half hour to 45 minute drive from the beginning of the Big Moose Road to the trailhead.
Trailhead for Stillwater tower