Berry Hill fire tower in the town of McDonough, Chenango County, is open for recreation after the completion of interior and exterior upgrades to enhance safety and accessibility. Berry Hill is the only fire tower on public lands in Central New York open to the public, and at an elevation of 1,960 feet, is one of the highest points in Chenango County.
Off-road parking is available for approximately eight vehicles at the base of the fire tower’s driveway. The driveway is about 1,000 feet long and open for pedestrian access with a moderate uphill climb. Through an agreement with DEC, the New York State Chapter of the Forest Fire Lookout Association will provide volunteer stewardship services at Berry Hill. Volunteers will help maintain the facility and provide educational information to visitors. On days when a steward is on site, motor vehicle access to the upper parking area may be permitted.
The tower is a 59-foot, 3-inch tall International Derrick tower, originally erected in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps for fire protection. The tower served as an active fire look-out station until the end of the 1988 season. In 1993, it was placed on the National Historic Lookout Register (US#54). The 1999 McDonough State Forest Unit Management Plan identified an objective of rehabilitating the fire tower to allow for public access. Before making the structural improvements, it was necessary to remove and relocate communications equipment from the fire tower.
Photo of Berry Hill Fire Tower provided.