If you find yourself in the city and are yearning for a quieter pace and intriguing history then a relatively short car drive away you will experience the beauty of the Catskills. The Catskills are the highlands of New York and have a generous amount of incredible mountains to climb, natural prairies, forests and lakes.
Within the Catskills lies Overlook Mountain. If you like the sound of exploring historical ruins dating back to the 1800s and visiting the most famous town dedicated to peace, love and rock n roll then this is the place for you.
Woodstock, the Heart of Rock ‘n Roll
Overlook Mountain is a quick 10 minute drive away from Woodstock town center. Woodstock is the heart of all things Rock n Roll and still has the remaining plot of land where the legendary 1969 festival once was. If you have a car and have the urge to travel through the area, then you will be able to immerse yourself in the colorful past that is so unique to Woodstock town. There is also the Woodstock Museum in Bethel Woods to gander at the legendary memorabilia too.
More to Woodstock Town
Woodstock town is quaint, vibrant and has still kept its classic roots. The little whimsical stores feel like they have been there since the 70’s. Small eccentric shops sell musical memorabilia, arts and crafts, jewelry and retro musings.
Vegan and eco-friendly cafes spot the small streets whilst faint music fills the air. Lush green grass appears in the front of the pure white town church and flowers dot the white picket fenced lawns. Woodstock is a picturesque place unspoiled by commercialism.
Overlook Mountain’s History, Golden Shrine Room and Stone features
Overlook mountain is known to be one of the most important and sacred mountains within the area. It’s known to have attracted a myriad of painters, artists, musicians, hikers and hippies in the 60s and 70s. At the trailhead entrance, lies the famous Buddhist Temple which offers viewings of the most beautiful and mesmerizing Golden Shrine Room. This room makes for an enchanting stop and peaceful break to any hikers and travelers visiting the mountain.
The mountain is also rich in ceremonial stone features and archaeoastronomy.
Hiking Overlook Mountain
During the short but sturdy one hour incline up this beautiful mountain, you will get to encounter forestry, nature and foliage in abundance. Its straight but stony path leads you to its main attraction the ‘Secret Ruins’ of Overlook Mountain Hotel. The ruins are nestled within the trees, unkempt grasses and flora. Overlook Mountain doesn’t boast about its secret ruins but leaves it up to the traveler to undercover which is always a welcoming surprise.
The Secret Ruins and Their History
The ruins are magnificently big and sturdy, and lie quietly within the mountain tops of Overlook. The ruins are the remains of the once-famous Overlook Mountain Hotel. Back in the 1800s when the hotel was first built, airplanes had not yet existed and people within the region used Overlook Hotel as a glamorous getaway vacation.
It was a hot spot for New York’s elite and they would travel to stay in such a beautiful location with its stunning views. It was a piece of luxury in the middle of the mountains.
In the early 1900s when airplanes were available and offered a wider range of travel to more exotic locations, Overlook mountain hotel wasn’t such a desired spot as it was before. Overlook Mountain also was home to rattle snakes and many of its guests were turned off by this.
Overlook Mountain Hotel was sadly affected by fire damage a handful of times, to which it was reconstructed using fireproof materials. In the early 1900s was the last and final time it was built and when the hotel caught fire again – it was left as ruins. Luckily for us, these ruins have brought enjoyment and intrigue to thousands of tourists, travelers and hikers alike.
The ruins still have steps up and down its three level hotel which is fascinating to wander through and up and down. It also still has remains of the walls, the grand entrance hall and it’s side rooms. It’s thoroughly exciting to walk through the hotel ruins and still picture how the hotel might have looked back in the day.
Further Up the Beautiful Winding Trail
The enjoyment of the mountain doesn’t end here and the beautiful trail takes you further up the mountain to the iconic fire tower where you can climb to the top and experience one of the highest viewpoints in the Catskills. Here you can see incredible panoramic 360 degree views.
My favorite spot is Eagles Point viewpoint and is the very last stop on the trail. It’s the most beautiful outlook with the most stunning views. The stone on where you stand at Eagles point outlook is etched and carved with names, words of friends, people and lovers dating back from the 1800s. Glancing over these etchings, takes you right back into the beloved place that Overlook Mountain once was.
Tips on visiting Overlook Mountain
- Manhattan to Overlook Mountain – Take the Trailways Bus from NY city center to Woodstock town center, which takes just under three hours from Manhattan. Then take a Woodstock taxi to the mountain which only takes 10 minutes.
- Overnight stays in Woodstock – There are an abundance of places to stay in Woodstock. Check out the Air BnBs, cute hotels and unique overnight stays.
- Car drive – Driving is relatively easy to the mountain and has two big parking lots for visitors to use. Be sure to get to the mountain early in the morning in the spring and summer months as this mountain can get very busy.
- Nearest airport – Stewart International Airport and is 48 miles away from Woodstock.
Take the guided Secret Ruin Hike HERE.
About the Author
More Places to Visit in New York State
About the Photo
The photo in the header above is of the of the ruins of the once-famous Overlook Mountain Hotel built in the 1800s on Overlook Mountain, near Woodstock, NY, USA. Photo by the article author, Kate.
About the Author
Kate is a travel writer currently living in Illinois, and is the founder of BornWild Adventures.
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