I don't remember how many times I have been in Mount Tremper in last ten years to visit one of my best friends who lives there and also to spend time in Woodstock. I really believe that Ulster County is one of the most beautiful places in New York no matter which time of the year we are in. Since I was coming here so often I was planning to hike in Catskill Mountains for a long time. I came alone here this time and wanted to make it happen. To be honest to climb Tremper Mountain (2,740 ft.) via Phoenicia Trail is not the easiest trail you can choose but it is the shortest one. Because it is short the trail is pretty steep, in 3 miles you are hiking from 800 ft. to the summit 2,740 ft.
Luckily I started the hike a little before 8AM when the weather wasn't really hot. Climbing up can get pretty hard and using the cool hours of the morning helps a lot. The hike takes around 1hr. 45min. to go up and around 1hr. 30min. to come down without the breaks. Small red dots nailed on the trees keeps you on the trail. Whenever you feel a little confused you can spot one of them around you, they are pretty helpful. I didn't use compass or map at all. I have to say though that "Catskill Mountain Guide" published by Appalachian Mountain Club was a perfect read before I hit the road. Pick a nice wood stick to use as a walking stick at the beginning of your hike, you will need it a lot. Also do not forget to register in the log book you will see right after about 100 - 150 yd. on the trail stored in a metal box. This is the only way rangers will know who is taking the hike in the mountain.
After the second mile there is a lean-to, a little shelter named "Baldwin Memorial" with a fire place in front of it. During summer months it might be hard to see it on your right side. If you see the sign "spring" on the trail that means you just passed it, and you should go back. At that point it feels very close to the summit and you don't want to stop but believe me you'll need it. The trail gets much steeper afterwards and you need a rest. Also the log book of the shelter is extremely funny to read.
After leaving the lean-to the summit is pretty close but like I said before it takes time to reach there. At the end you will find the fire tower everybody is talking about with another lean-to close by. Don't even think about it. You have to climb the tower since in Summer the only view you can see is from the top. Unfortunately the cab is only accesible during weekends but at least you can climb up the stairs to take a look around just to proof yourself that you are at the summit. At that stage you can continue Warner Creek Trail to hike down the other side of the Tremper Mountain towards Carl Mountain or to go back where you came from. I chose the shorter way and went back down. The way back is easier but you have to be extremely careful since all the stones on the trail are loose and slippery when wet.
I think I might want to come back here during Fall and continue via Warner Creek Trail. I appreciate the weather and the green but I feel like it will be much more beautiful to be able to see far away on the trail and all the colors of the leaves from bright yellow to dark red.