A cool hike on NYCDEP land with great views. Hopefully, a fire tower resurrection to come.
Bramley Mountain is a 2817′ peak located in the western Catskills. You’ll hike by an impounded pond, many rock walls and past foundations, an abandoned bluestone quarry, and excellent views. This hike is one to savor. The Bramley Mountain trails are entirely on NYCDEP property, and the NYCDEP cut the trail in conjunction with the Catskill Mountain Club. We wonder how the mountain earned its name? Was it due to the extensive amount of brambles at the higher elevations, or was it a family name? We’ll go with the thorny bushes. The Friends of Bramley Mountain Fire Tower are working hard to get the old fire tower erected again, and we can’t wait!
|Hiking Distance:||3.7-miles||Route Type:||Loop|
|Total climb:||990′ to summit||Hike type:||Trails|
|How hard?||Moderate||Trailhead:||Glen Burnie Road|
Bramley Mountain Trailhead for parking to access Bramley Mountain Loop Trails. Click on the map for directions.
The trailhead is on Glen Burnie Road, not too far from South Kortright. Glen Burnie Road is a public dirt road that is easily driveable but quite steep at points.
Be aware that the area is used for logging and large logging trucks with payloads of harvested trees are not uncommon traveling on this road.
Don’t let the diminutive stature of this mountain fool you; it is a scrappy peak to climb. Although heavily impacted by man, the beauty of this place is very apparent. Once home to a fire tower, the Friends of Bramley Mountain Fire Tower hopes to make this a reality again. If their plan is successful, the 360-degree view from the summit will be incredible. However, for now, you’ll have to “settle” for the outstanding views from various points along the upper elevation trails.
The parking at the Bramley Mountain trailhead is quite large, with enough room for about 15 cars. It could probably fit more. The trailhead has a small kiosk with a sign regarding tick safety on a pole. There is also a donation box for the fire tower project; drop a few dollars to help their cause!
There is a trail register please sign it, here’s why.
The blue-marked quarry trail exits the parking area at the obvious kiosk and register if you wish to climb on the summit trail; look for red markers leaving the parking area opposite the cars uphill into the woods.
We describe the hike climbing on the Quarry Trail and returning on the Summit Trail.
The blue-marked Quarry Trail is wide and level. It was shown on maps as early as 1885 and was once a road that ascended at least partway up the mountain. It may have been the jeep road for the fire tower.
As you hike along the old woods road, watch for markers. Even though it is easy to follow, other woods roads branch off. These may have been used as skid roads for past logging. Check the forest floor for cut stumps.
At about 0.20-miles from the trailhead an impacted pond will be on your left.
As you continue to hike, you notice the obvious signs of past human impact, especially for agriculture, evident by extensive rock walls and foundation remnants.
The blue marked Quarry Trail climbs at very gradual grades toward the quarry until about 0.4-miles, where it levels and begins to follow a contour. The trail can be muddy in spots. At about 0.85-miles from the parking area, you’ll reach the quarry.
As you enter the quarry, a short side path left will take you up a steep hump to look over a mass of bluestone.
After the quarry, the trail will soon turn right (look for arrow) and begin a short, steeper climb. After the short climb is the beginning of the steeper sections of climbing, you’ll gain over 800′ to the summit.
At the top of the climb, the trail will swing right again and begin a level walk below rock ledges with some nice overhangs! You’ll have traveled about 1.1-mile from the trailhead.
The trail will swing back hard left after the rock ledges on the level with a short climb. You’ll climb steadily from here to the summit.
As you get higher on the mountain, the trail will come near or cross old roads, which we think may be part of the old jeep road to the fire tower. Watch your markers at these crossings!
As you get closer to the summit you’ll hike through some minor rock ledges and a couple lemon squeezers.
Soon you’ll reach the first of three views which is below the summit. It is reached at about 1.7-miles from the start.
In the limited NW view, one sees Betts Hill up front between the trees. To the left, with the leaves down, you can see the partial mass of Boomhower Hill. Behind and a bit right of Betts is Big Tom Mountain. Hollister Hill sits to the left of Betts Hill and behind the ridge of Boomhower Hill. You can see dozens of other peaks and pastures in the valley and horizon.
From the view, it is a quick climb to the summit, which is reached at 1.9-miles from the trailhead. You’ll find remains of the fire tower, including its foundation, cut telephone poles, and a rough stove on the summit.
Continuing on a side path you’ll reach your second view looking south.
The view is expansive. The jumble of peaks of the western Catskills is terrific. With some jockeying around, you can get pictures of the high mountains.
Directly from the ledge, you can spy on the horizon Mary Smith Hill, Middle Mountain, Beech Hill, Cabot Mountain, Hodge Pond Hill, Touch-me-not Mountain, Beech Mountain, Mongaup Mountain, Barkaboom Mountain, Millbrook Ridge, Woodpecker Ridge, Balsam Lake Mountain, and Mount Pisgah.
In our opinion, the best is yet to come. As you leave the summit, you walk back past the foundations and head toward a path that leads off the summit. It is not well marked, but soon you’ll see red markers.
After dropping a bit you’ll come across and open area.
At the bottom of the open section, the trail will turn right and walk below the summit cliffs, wherewith the leaves down; you will get some glimpses of the south viewing ledge.
Another hike on NYCDEP land: Palmer Hill Trail in the Catskills. Fun but Unusual.
You begin a short drop to an open section on the ridge which eventually levels. This is the most beautiful section of trail on the mountain. You have the airy feeling on the ridge, views back toward the summit, and the south views along the entire section when the leaves are off the trees and brambles.
You reenter the woods after about 0.20-miles on the open section and start a steep decent toward the parking area.
As you reach the lower elevations on the trail you will again see stone walls.
Once back down near the bottom, you’ll see the road. The trail will turn right and downhill to the parking area. You travel about 1.8-miles from the summit to the trailhead.
Map of Bramley Mountain Trails
Click the map or here for an interactive version of the map.
Backwoods wanderer with a passion for backpacking, hiking, kayaking, and exploring the wilds of the Catskills and Adirondacks in New York. A Catskill 3500 Club Member and Adirondack Forty-Sixer. Climbed Mount Rainier. Professionally an Exercise Physiologist.