Overlook Mountain House Ruins
Woodstock, NY - October 30, 2010
In the 1820s up to the 1920s, the Catskills was a very popular resort destination for vacationing New Yorkers. Back then, it was actually more fashionable to visit the Catskills than to visit Europe.

Many hotels were built in the Catskills. One of which was the Overlook Mountain House on Overlook Mountain, just outside of Woodstock. It accommodated 300 guests. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by fire twice -- once in 1875 and another in 1923. An attempt to rebuild was made, but in 1940 it was abandoned due to financial difficulties. Today, its ruins stand as a testament to a time when the glitziest of New Yorkers came to the Catskills to see and be seen.

The way to the ruins from the main road -- Mead Mountain Road in Woodstock, NY -- is 2.5 miles. And it's steep -- very steep at times -- uphill climb all the way. After just a couple of yards from the trail head, we were already panting. Whenever we saw a moderate incline up ahead, we get all worked up because we could then catch our breaths. We stopped every now and then to take pictures.

It was only a few minutes past 3pm when we started but already we met plenty of hikers coming back on the trail. Climbing from an elevation of 1,650 feet to 3,000 feet, we took an hour to reach the ruins.

After the ruins, we didn’t make the additional half-mile hike to the fire tower anymore where (according to websites) you get an unobstructed 360-degree view of the Catskills. We were torn because we were already there but it was also starting to get dark to see anything. Besides, chilly winds were picking up. So near yet so far...

We left only two groups of hikers when we went back down. One -- a young couple -- went to the fire tower. We met the other group -- two able-bodied men but panting nonetheless -- on their way up while we were going down.

When the first group -- the couple -- passed us on our way down, we thought we’re glad we didn’t go to the fire tower anymore. Because if we did, we might be the last going down. With one more group behind us, should anything happen to us on the trail in the dark on the way down -- break an ankle maybe we’re not young anymore -- help would be easier as there would be people coming back.

To be honest, we didn’t expect the hike to be so strenuous. Had we known it would take this long we would have brought snacks and maybe a flashlight. Even going downhill took effort because we had to constantly fight our momentum from hurtling.

But at least we got to try something new. Arm in arm exchanging stories in the darkening trail -- and exchanging jackets, too, at one point because she began feeling cold in hers -- we spent what felt like an eternity walking alone in the woods. If we can manage that and not break into a fight over how to raise the kids or who is putting more effort into cleaning the house, then I suppose we should take that as a welcome sign in facing the years to come living the rest of our lives together.

(source: http://www.hudsonvalleyruins.org/yasinsac/overlook/overlook.html)

Click on a picture to enlarge.
The trail leading up to the ruins.From this picture it may look easy -- this is one of the milder stretches with a steep incline up ahead -- so try to imagine this as a flight of stairs and you might see how quickly you’d start panting just taking the first couple of steps. And this goes on for two and half miles.
Looking back at the trail behind us.
A hiker and her dog passes us on the trail. Vi took this picture.
Woods along the trail.
Fauna along the trail. Vi took this picture.
Rocks along the trail. Vi took this picture.
Ruins of the Overlook Mountain House comes into view.
Rooms below.
Back of the ruins.
Building -- or what's left of it -- behind the ruins. Vi took this photo.
Pool behind the ruins. Vi took this photo.
Sunset at the ruins.
The town of Woodstock.
Corner of Rock City Road and Tinker Street in Woodstock, NY. Trail head to the ruins is two miles from here.
Shops on Mill Hill Road in Woodstock, NY.
A homeless hippie who seems to have never left the 60s in Woodstock, NY.
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