History on the rocks: A few Catskills trails that go way back

Ruins of the Overlook Mountain House. Photo by Jenna Scherer.

If you'd like a side order of history with your exercise, these spots offer plenty of food for thought along with the scenery.

Catskill Mountain House/Escarpment Trail 
This rambling loop offers stunning vistas -- on a clear day you can see five states -- and the sites of bygone destinations. The scanty remains of the once-great Laurel House, Kaaterskill Hotel and Catskill Mountain House are here, along with natural treats like Boulder Rock, the Sphinx, and Eagle Ledge. Haines Falls. 
Trailhead: From Route 23A, take North Lake Road to Laurel House Road (on your right.) Park at the end of Laurel House Road.

Hudson River School Art Trail 
Cedar Grove, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, offers guided hikes through spots that inspired Hudson River School painters. There's a different hike scheduled each month, and the $17 admission includes a tour of Cedar Grove and a copy of the Hudson River School Art Trail Guidebook. Reserve a spot online, or grab a free guidebook at Cedar Grove and take your own hike. Catskill. 

Woodchuck Lodge and John Burroughs gravesite
The final resting place of naturalist John Burroughs and Woodchuck Lodge, where he spent the latter summers of his life. Take a guided tour of the Lodge between 11 and 3 on the first Saturday of each month from May through October, or visit the national historic site any day of the year. There's an outdoor kiosk with historical information. Roxbury.
From Route 30, take Hardscrabble Road to Burroughs Memorial Road. 

Overlook Ruins
A two-mile ascent up a onetime jeep trail, this hike rewards moderately hardy souls with stunning views from a mountaintop fire tower and the chance to explore the ruins of the Overlook Mountain House and Lodge. Artist Sarah Greer Mecklem has glued reproductions of relevant newspaper articles to the interior Mountain House walls for a self-guided tour. Woodstock.
Trailhead: About 1.5 miles along Rock City/Mead Mountain Road, across the street from the Buddhist temple.

Minisink Battleground Park
Hiking and picnicking can be combined with Revolutionary-era history on a visit to the 57-acre Minisink Battleground Park in Sullivan County, with a choice of three trails. A brochure available at the Interpretive Center in Barryville will guide you to significant historic sites: an old quarry, a 4,000-year-old rock shelter, battle landmarks. Highland.
Trailhead: On County Road 168 (off Route 97).

Mount Utsayantha
The mountain's name, borrowed from an apocryphal Indian princess, means Beautiful Spring. Over the centuries, Utsayantha's legend has morphed into several variations, a tale of star-crossed love and intercultural relations gone sadly awry. The easy two-mile hike along a fire road to the summit of the mountain rewards you with 360-degree views from a fire tower. Stamford.
Trailhead: 1.2 miles south of Route 23 on Mountain Avenue.

Below: View from the Mount Utsayantha fire tower. Photo by Christopher Mooney; shared in the Watershed Post Flickr group pool.