Overlook Mountain parking part of trail improvement plan
A Nov. 29 meeting is scheduled to discuss state Department of Environmental Conservation plans for increased parking and additional trails at Overlook Mountain.
The session is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Mescal Hornbeck Community Center at 56 Rock City Road.
Under the plan, there would be 25 to 30 additional parking spots created in an area in the Magic Meadow area along Macdaniel Road. In addition, a 10-vehicle parking area would be constructed off of California Quarry Road.
“The main thing is the parking,” spokeswoman Wendy Rosenbach said. “It is pretty pressing, and the Woodstock supervisor has been in contact with our land and forest staff for the past couple years. It’s a pretty popular hiking location, and we’ve been looking for other alternatives for parking, but they just didn’t work out.”
A year ago, Town Board members approved putting up “no parking” signs after police issued 21 tickets over one weekend to people who were parked along Meads Mountain Road and Macdaniel Road and did not leave enough room for emergency vehicles to pass.
The parking lot and new trails will be on parts of 576.12 acres acquired by the state adjacent to the Overlook preserve.
In proposed amendments to the Overlook forest management plan, state officials wrote that there has been a steady increase in trail use, with 7,491 people signing the registry in 2012; 9,246 in 2013; 10,860 in 2014; and 12,610 in 2015.
However, they believe actually usage could be five times more than the registry indicates. “The Overlook Mountain trail head register is estimated to have one of the lower signin rates when compared to other trail heads in the region,” officials wrote.
“This may be due to the straightforward manner of the trail and it being located on the fire tower access road.”
In the proposed amendment, there would be a connecting trail of about a third of a mile from the parking area on Macdaniel Road to the 2.4-mile main trail leading to the fire tower at the top of Overlook Mountain. Officials are also considering allowing use of vehicles on the main trail for people with disabilities.
“If approved the designation of the road would allow visitors with disabilities the ability to drive a motor vehicle to the fire tower via permit,” officials wrote. “This would allow visitors of all abilities to visit one of the five remaining Catskill fire towers and attain a panoramic view of the surrounding area from the base of the tower.”
Officials are also planning the install two porta-john units at the Overlook trail head to reduce the amount of people who seek to use facilities at the Karma Triyana Dharmachakra monastery across from the current parking lot.
In a proposed budget for improvements under the plan, the parking lot would cost $60,000; the sanitation stations would be $3,000 per year; a kiosk and parking area at California Quarry would be $5,000; construction of a gate at California Quarry would be $1,000; a trail from the California Quarry parking area to the main trail would be $500; and a connecting trail from the Macdaniel Road parking area to the main trail would be $2,000.
Online: The state Department of Environmental Conservations plans are posted with this story at DAILYFREEMAN.COM.
A map from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation shows some of the proposed improvements for Overlook Mountain.