The Ninham Mountain Fire Tower stands 82.5 feet high atop of a 1,270-foot summit in Ninham Mountain State Forest (Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area). The trail follows a 1.5-mile 470-foot climb to the summit of Ninham Mountain through hardwoods and conifers, which the Forest Service manages to produce diverse wildlife habitats and protect water quality. From the top, there are expansive, 360-degree views of the countryside east of the Hudson River Valley.
Access the park lands via Mount Ninham Court, the entry point off of Gypsy Trail Road. This paved road leads uphill to a gravel parking area with a gate. There are two trails here, and the wide stone road to the right of the information kiosk leads up to the fire tower. Follow this path for three-quarters of a mile past glacial erratic, stone walls, and along power lines. Nearing the top you’ll first see a cell tower before the trail turns to the right and reveals the fire tower. There is mountain laurel around its base and a sign that states, “No more than six people on tower at one time.”
Climb the steps, which ascend diagonally, a characteristic of taller towers. At the top, you can access the 7-by-7-foot metal cab with an open roof and exposure to the potentially strong winds sweeping over the land. Here you are graced with views that span to Stockholm Hill and the Little and Big Buck Mountains to the north, Whang Hollow and Pine Pond to the east, Coles Mills and the West Branch Reservoir to the south, and Clear Pool and the Boyd Reservoir and Dam to the west.
The fire tower was constructed in 1940 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a program initiative by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his New Deal. The CCC ran from 1933 to 1942 and was implemented throughout the country to help provide paid work opportunities for families following the Great Depression. Unmarried, unemployed, healthy males between 18 and 25 years of age were commissioned to work in camps throughout the country developing public projects and refuges. These young men are responsible for the original construction of the fire tower and were paid $30 per month, $25 of which was sent directly to the home to their parents. The tower operated until 1989 and was eventually restored by the Town of Kent Conservation Advisory Commission, which opened it to the public in 2000. Today it is on the National Historic Lookout Register.
The name of this forest commemorates Chief Daniel Nimham of the Wappingers tribe, who gave his life for American independence at the Battle of Kingsbridge during the Revolutionary War. This was his ancestral homeland as a member of the Wappinger natives.
You can enjoy a number of recreational activities within the forest. There are approximately 10 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. The park requires proof of current negative Coggins certificate for all horses and a 30-day health certificate for all out-of-state horse owners. Rinaldi Pond allows fishing and non-motorized boat use.
While there aren’t any designated campsites, backcountry camping is permitted with the condition of being at least 150 feet away from the nearest road, trail, or body of water. A permit from a forest ranger is required for more than three nights or groups of 10 or more people. Hunting for white-tailed deer, pheasant, turkey, waterfowl, rabbit, and squirrel is also permissible during appropriate seasons. Be mindful of forest activities and management practices, which may close paths at certain times.