Difficulty: 3 out of 10 (short uphill stroll)
Highlights: Fire tower, easy stroll, beautiful 360-degree views
Distance: 1.5 miles, up-and-back
Approximate roundtrip time: 1.5 hours
Total ascent: 400 ft
Max elevation: 1,314 ft above sea level
This hike is for you if: You want to take an easy (well, you know, relatively easy) stroll up a gravel road to a fire tower with a great view. Or perhaps you’re looking for a hike you can do while pushing a stroller.
Super-cool Google Earth flyover of hike route:
Google Terrain Map of hike route:
Background you can feel free to skip: Ninham Mountain inspired me, perhaps more than any other hike, to create Hikethehudsonvalley.com. I’d stumbled across some brief online descriptions of a fire tower at Ninham Mountain, and found some directions to the parking lot. A new fire tower? Cool! I couldn’t wait to check it out.
On my first visit here, I wandered around in the woods for a few hours, lost, exploring every trail I could find in the hopes of stumbling upon a fire tower. In the end, after many miles and hours, I eventually found a fellow hiker who pointed me in the right direction, which was up the big gravel road heading out from the parking lot. Seems obvious now, but without good directions, how was I to know? At least I got a nice picture of my dog romping around out on those other trails.
The Ninham Mountain fire tower is extremely easy to find – you simply stroll up the gravel road for 15 minutes and BOOM! Fire tower! But without someone to tell you that, you could end up aimlessly wandering around the vast trail system (apparently popular with mountain bikers) for hours, like a doofus, like me.
In any event, this is a pleasant stroll. No frills, no fuss – just a short walk to a tower with a very nice view. And hopefully, you won’t have to depend on the kindness of strangers to find it.
(Also, a quick note on the name of this place: Different sources call this place Nimham Mountain and Ninham Mountain. The sign posted at the entrance says Ninham Mountain Multiple Use Area, so I’m rolling with that, even though the historical marker right next to it says Mount Nimham. Online sources seem to use the words interchangeably. You say Nimham, I say Ninham. Nimham. Ninham. Ninham, Nimham. Let’s just climb the tower.)
1. From the parking area (see “Directions to the trailhead” below), head around the gate to the right of the kiosk and go uphill on the gravel road. There’s juuuuust enough room to squeeze a stroller around the gate, if you should happen to find yourself hiking with a baby.
2. That’s pretty much it. Just keep strolling up the gravel road.
Keep an eye out for some cool old stone chambers as you go. (And for some interesting – completely not crazy – explanations for what these chambers are, visit the comment section of this YouTube video from NY UFO Roundtable. Oh, and see the New York Times article, “A Hike Into the Mystic, Or Just a Walk in the Woods?” for further discussion on the topic. This area is apparently rife with paranormal activity – who knew?)
3. It took us about 30 minutes to reach the top, walking at toddler speed (you could probably do it in 10 or 15 at normal-person speed). Just as another road joins from the left, you’ll see the tower straight ahead. It might not feel like you’re on top of a mountain, but the 360-degree view up on that tower suggests that indeed, you are.
If you have any hesitation about climbing the tower, my three-year-old son wanted me to tell you: You can do it! Also, he wants more juice.
4. Take your time and soak it in. The Catskills are visible way off in the distance, with vast expanses of forest stretching in every direction. I’d love to catch a nice sunset up here. One of these days.
5. That’s it! When you’re done, head back down the way you came.
Note: There’s a red-blazed (or unmarked, depending on who you ask) trail that runs parallel to the road if you’re feeling adventurous and want to try a different way down. To access that trail – according to the people I talked to – at the bottom of the tower, facing the road you came in on, turn left to follow the gravel road past a couple of buildings. Apparently, you can pick up the trail there and take it back down to the parking lot. I’ve never tried it (strollers don’t do trails very well), but if you check it out, good luck, and enjoy!
For a quick hike to nice view, this place is tough to beat, right?
Directions to the trailhead:
From the Taconic Parkway heading south from Poughkeepsie, take the exit for Route 52. Turn right to hop on 52 East for 5.3 miles. Turn right onto White Pond Road for 2.8 miles (after 1.5 miles, you’ll have to veer right to stay on White Pond Road). Turn left onto County Rd 42 (Farmers Mills Rd). In less than a mile, turn right onto Gypsy Trail Road, which becomes more trail than road. After about 2.5 miles, you’ll see the sign on the right for Ninham Mountain Multiple Use Area, next to the historical marker for Mount Nimham.
Turn here onto Mt. Nimham Ct and head uphill on the gravel road as far as you can go (about half a mile). Arrive in a nice wide parking lot and let the adventure begin!
You can also get directions by checking out the Ninham Mountain fire tower entry on the HiketheHudsonValley.com Google map.
Sorta nearby address for your GPS: The intersection of Gypsy Trail Rd and Mt. Nimham Ct in Kent, NY will put you right at the entrance.
GPS coordinates of parking area: 41.4543, -73.7215 (Clicking will open in Google Maps or the Apple Maps app, depending on your browser/device.)
Related resources: If you’re looking for actual facts and/or useful information, visit these resources:
- The official DEC map for NimhamMountainStateForest, with several other trails to explore
- The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference Ninham Mountain page
- A nice overview for this and other hikes on the Oblong Land Conservancy hiking page
- A nice Youtube video showing the view from the top of the tower and the experience of walking down the stairs (Warning: If you’re not a Creed fan, be sure to press mute first)
- Some excellent historical information on this and other hikes on the Kent Conservation Advisory Committee’s hikes page
- An entertaining article from the New York Times about the origins of the stone chambers along the trail, and some other local landmarks: “A Hike Into the Mystic, or Just a Walk in the Woods?”
- A nice trail guide for this same hike from the Poughkeepsie Journal: “Ninham’s great views make it tower of power“
More Ninham Mountain fire tower pictures from the hike’s Flickr album:
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