A short walk to a great view!
Located halfway between the high peaks and Lake Champlain is perhaps the most accessible fire tower in the Adirondacks. At just over a third of a mile and 137 feet of elevation gain, all on a dirt road, is tower makes for a great side-adventure if traveling through the area.
In 1912 the first observation station was manned atop Belfry Mountain. Originally there was no tower, rather the summit was used to graze caddle and thus was already cleared. In 1917 a standard Steel Aermotor LS40 tower was installed. The tower is 47 feet high from the base to the floor of the cab, which is the standard way to measure fire towers.
Originally the tower was on private land, but in 1933 the state purchased the summit and built an observer’s cabin in 1934. Unlike many other Adirondack fire towers, the tower was not in continuous use until it closed in 1988. From 1971 through 1982 the tower was unmanned. Unfortunately cabin was removed in the 1990’s due to vandalism.
Like many fire towers, their strategic location on smaller peaks with great views in all directions makes them also perfect candidates for radio equipment. That, coupled with Belfry’s proximity to the highway, has meant that numerous radio antennas have been attached to it. While it does not prevent using the tower, they are very noticeable. Further there are a handful of other towers located on the mountain.
County Route 70 Trailhead (.4 miles to summit): The trail (access road) is located on the west side of the County Route 70, but parking is easier across the road. The access road is actively used, so do not block the gate. The trail is quite obvious, following the access road to the summit. About halfway, and just below the summit are two ‘Y’ intersections. Take a left at both as a right leads you to private communication towers.
The access road is private property and the landowner has given permission to use the road. Please stay on the road and do not explore the private buildings.
Return the same way. Hiking Time: 1 hour at a relaxing pace.
- Rocky Mountain – A nearby short hike with great views, but less crowded.
- Black Bear Mountain – A nearby longer hike (2 miles to summit)
- The Adirondack Fire Tower Challenge
No designated sites along the trail or on summit. Most of the property except a small area around the tower is private property. We do not suggest camping here.
The hike is relatively easy and most kids will not have difficulty with it. There are no large cliffs and only a few ledges near the tower (~5 feet tall). Use caution if climbing the fire tower.
Bring them. It is an easy hike with few cliffs and scrambles.
What to bring
Depending on how long you plan to stay at the summit, bring a water bottle and perhaps a snack. A jacket to protect you from the wind is useful if it is windy or cool.
The parking area (shoulder of road) is not always plowed in the winter — and it is on a curved section of the road. Depending on the needs of the private towers, the road may be plowed with the gate open. Use common sense when entering the area. The tower is open year round, but can be very icy. Use caution if attempting to climb.
If you have anything to add, please leave it below. Feel free to ask a question too. Happy Journeys!