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Old 01-23-2017, 05:59 PM   #1
pbermiez
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Cabin @ Wakely Summit

Might be a silly question, but I'm wondering - anyone know if it is legal to stay overnight in the cabin at the summit of Wakely Mountain (next to the firetower)?
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Old 01-23-2017, 06:30 PM   #2
DSettahr
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No. From a technicality standpoint with regards to the regulations, it's not a designated tent site, or a lean-to, and it's within 150 feet of a trail. From a policy stand point, the fire tower observer's cabins are for administrative use only (and anything else would be a violation of the Forever Wild amendment of the NY State constitution). And from a realistic standpoint, allowing public access to stay in the cabins would likely result in significant amounts of vandalism (many of the fire tower cabins that no longer stand were damaged beyond repair or even burned down by vandals).

Case in point with regards to that last bit concerning vandalism: If you ever get a chance to climb Overlook Mountain in the Catskills, note that the door to the observer's cabin has been heavily reinforced to keep vandals out. It looks like the door to a bank vault, not a cabin in the woods.


I also know that an intern working as a steward on one of the fire tower peaks quit their job mid-season a few years ago because of theft. They'd been staying in the cabin while working, and one day when they weren't on the mountain a group broke into the cabin and stole a bunch of their camping gear.

The only way for the public to legally stay in a fire tower observer's cabin is to get involved as a volunteer steward with one of the tower friends groups. At least one of the friends groups (Balsam Lake Mountain in the Catskills) has access to the cabin associated with their tower, and volunteers are allowed to stay in it overnight while working as a steward on the summit. The steward positions involve interacting with the public and providing education on leave no trace, local history, etc. I think a couple of other friends groups also have similar arrangements with the DEC.
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Old 01-23-2017, 07:01 PM   #3
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very cool, thank you for the thorough answer sir!
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Old 01-23-2017, 08:30 PM   #4
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The cabin and fire tower on Mount Arab were broken into and vandalized several years ago and the vandals did an estimated $3000 damage. Fortunately, someone was climbing the mountain shortly after the damage occurred and recognized two youths headed down the mountain which led to their arrests. The locals and local lake communities that frequent the mountain were outraged but then donated more than the damage that was caused. The friends groups for these fire tower mountains are very worthwhile organizations.
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Old 01-28-2017, 02:41 PM   #5
IndLk_Brett
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Originally Posted by pbermiez View Post
Might be a silly question, but I'm wondering - anyone know if it is legal to stay overnight in the cabin at the summit of Wakely Mountain (next to the firetower)?
Also, from what I remember the cabin on Wakely is pad-locked shut. Likely to keep from gaining access the people who may not have the foresight (as you obviously have) to find out whether it's legal or not to stay there. Or to protect it from vandals and those who simply don't care that they are not permitted to stay inside.

I actually don't think I can recall ever seeing any fire-observer's cabin on a summit that hadn't been locked shut. I could be mistaken though, and I certainly haven't seen them all.

Last edited by IndLk_Brett; 01-28-2017 at 05:20 PM..
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Old 02-01-2017, 12:51 PM   #6
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Yeah, last time I did Wakely, the cabin was wide open. Hopefully someone got up to shudder it for the winter.
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Old 02-01-2017, 04:25 PM   #7
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Last time I was on Wakely (a couple of years ago) the cabin was unlocked. The DEC had dropped some shingles for the roof and some lumber for new stair treads for the tower. Does anyone know if they made the improvements? Some of the tower steps were getting a little punky.
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Old 02-02-2017, 12:34 PM   #8
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Last time I was on Wakely (a couple of years ago) the cabin was unlocked. The DEC had dropped some shingles for the roof and some lumber for new stair treads for the tower. Does anyone know if they made the improvements? Some of the tower steps were getting a little punky.
From what I can recall, having been there my last time near the tail-end of summer, the shingles had been replaced. I'm not positive about the tower steps, but I don't seem to remember anything seeming too sketchy on the way up, so if I had to wager a guess I would say, yes, some of the treads have been replaced.

I'm also quite sure I remember a lock on the cabin door, but it could surely have since been removed or my memory is possibly incorrect. It certainly wouldn't be the first time (for a lock removal or my memory being fallible ).

Also, as I mentioned and posted a couple pictures of in a previous thread, the helipad has been refurbished to the point that it would seem to be operational for whatever uses DEC deems fit. I would assume that would be the easier transportation of materials to the summit and facilitating any potential SAR operations, though that would only be my guess.

Last edited by IndLk_Brett; 02-03-2017 at 03:25 AM..
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Old 02-02-2017, 12:39 PM   #9
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Wakely has a radio repeater on the summit and the primary purpose of the helicopter pad is undoubtedly year-round access to the summit for the purpose of maintenance of the repeater.
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Old 02-02-2017, 12:55 PM   #10
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Wakely has a radio repeater on the summit and the primary purpose of the helicopter pad is undoubtedly year-round access to the summit for the purpose of maintenance of the repeater.
Thanks for the clarification DS.

As mentioned, I could only speculate as to the purpose for the refurbishment. Though I would have to think it doesn't hurt to have the option to more easily get unwieldy, heavy and bulky materials up there as that trail can get rather steep in sections.
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Old 02-03-2017, 04:25 PM   #11
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Hey, I should have checked my notes before posting. As of 2013 (my last visit) they had replaced the bad stair treads. Guess it's time to go back! Getting back to the thread of cabins, this past summer the state put some $ into renovating the gatekeeper's cabin at the Cedar River Flow, new gas and solar power. It will be interesting to see if they will man it (maybe weekends?) to control the ever increasingly popularity of camping in the area.
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Old 02-03-2017, 10:47 PM   #12
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Hey, I should have checked my notes before posting. As of 2013 (my last visit) they had replaced the bad stair treads. Guess it's time to go back! Getting back to the thread of cabins, this past summer the state put some $ into renovating the gatekeeper's cabin at the Cedar River Flow, new gas and solar power. It will be interesting to see if they will man it (maybe weekends?) to control the ever increasingly popularity of camping in the area.
I would love to see that. It's become party central lately.
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Old 02-17-2017, 04:22 AM   #13
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... this past summer the state put some $ into renovating the gatekeeper's cabin at the Cedar River Flow, new gas and solar power. It will be interesting to see if they will man it (maybe weekends?) to control the ever increasingly popularity of camping in the area.
There was no one there any of the (numerous) times I past through during last deer season, but that's certainly not to say there won't be anyone there during the busy spring/summer months. I too am curious to see what will happen.
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