Rock Rift Rail Trail and Fire Tower Trail


Less than 60 years ago, what is now the Rock Rift Rail Trail was an active, thriving railroad corridor, with a railroad (the New York Ontario and Western Railroad — the O&W) that served communities up and down the West Branch of the Delaware River.  There is little evidence of the railroad or the hamlets of Rock Rift or Beerston now having been raised to for the construction of the New York City’s Cannonsville Reservoir.  Although both are technically above the high water marks of the reservoir, their removal was deemed necessary to assure water quality.

Like most rail trails, the majority of the Rock Rift  Rail Trail is flat and travels the old rail bed.  It occasionally leaves the rail bed and follows the abandoned old NYS Route 10 and meanders through the woods, rejoining the it further on.

The Rock Rift Rail Trail is 7.8 miles in length between Beers Brook Rd. and NYS Rte. 268.

The eastern trailhead is 5 miles south of Walton at the Cannonsville Reservoir on Beers Brook Rd. and the western trailhead is on NYS Rte. 268 at the southern end on the Rte. 268 Bridge over the reservoir, across the road from the DEP boat launch. Look for the Finger Lakes Trail signs.

This section of the Fingerlakes Trail is but a minor part of the main FLT which stretches across New York State for 567 miles. The FLT begins here in the Catskill Mountains, near the Village of Phoenicia and ends at the Pennsylvania border in Alleghany State Park, near Salamanca, NY.



This fall,  the Finger Lakes Trail Conference (FLT), with the help of CMC volunteers, opened a new 5 mile trail to the last unrestored Catskill Fire Tower on public land. The Pines Fire Tower is on Tower Mountain and overlooks the Cannonsville Reservoir (see FLT Map 28). It was built by the CCC in 1934 and in service until 1987.

The tower trail can be accessed from 3 different points (1) at the intersection of NYS Rte 10 and NYS Rte 268, just north of the Rte 268 bridge over the Reservoir, on NYS Rte. 10,  (2) 2 miles west of the bridge on Rte. 10 and (3) at the Fish Brook DEP boat launch site on Rte. 10, 1 mile east of the bridge.  Again, look for the FLT signs.

Together, with the loop section back to the Rte 268 bridge, the entire Fire Tower trail is 7 miles long. It is open all year except during deer hunting season. Along with the Rock Rift Rail Trail which starts just south of the Rte 268 bridge, the trails along and around the Cannonsville Reservoir now total 15 miles.

The Rock Rift Rail Trail and Fire Tower Trail are a cooperative effort between The Finger Lakes Trail Conference (FLTC) and the NYC Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) without whose permission the trail would not be possible. The trail was built and is maintained by FLTC volunteers,  with assistance from Catskill Mountain Club volunteers. The local coordinator for the FLTC can be reached at:


Rock Rift Rail Trail Brochure   (large file)

Rock Rift Trails/FLTC Trail Map (please do not print or otherwise reproduce this map.  It is the property of the FLTC and sale of maps help finance FLTC projects like this one.)

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