I always recommend using GPS when bushwhacking. Ice AlertPreciptiation and deep freezes at all elevations means ice is everywhere. The blazes are now red and you are on your way up towards the tower. It can be difficult to orient yourself up there but the observer’s cabin is a big help. Hike early and carry a headlamp. Location: The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead. On a clear day, the tower offers a view of Manhattan in the distance. –Do not confuse Balsam Lake with Balsam Mountain or Balsam Cap. The restored fire tower offers views of the Pepacton Reservoir. Continuing along the trail going down the hill you will find a spring. Slide involves an immediate river crossing, and has a rocky section, plus a few steep inclines. The first forest fire tower in New York State was erected on Balsam Lake Mountain in 1887. In these conditions, even with an inch or two of snow on the ground, I’d been able to bare-boot my way to the summit. The register for Balsam Lake is quite a distance from the road. Balsam Lake Mountain Fire Tower is located in Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest, Ulster County. Best Trail Conditions LinksCurrent 3500 ConditionsCatskill Visitor Center ReportsDEC Backcountry Info. It winds up through the balsam forest, of course. Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest: Visit the fire tower! The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and snowshoeing and is best used from April until October. From the junction with the red trail that goes up to fire tower, it’s 2¼ very easy miles to your car. Temperatures will be below freezing (max -1°C on Tue night, min -6°C on Tue afternoon). Head back toward the observer’s cabin and downhill to the junction. Sunset Apx: 4:25pm.Daylight hours are short. Our pace will be moderate and we’ll have frequent, short water/snack stops. There will be numerous displays including information on the history of the tower, the Observers who served there, its restoration, the flora and fauna in the area, and a salute to the volunteers who have been caring for the tower. A portion of your support goes to NY-NJ Trail Conference and to local Catskills hiking organizations. Not long after the 3500 FOOT ELEVATION sign, the woods change suddenly from deciduous to a massive stand of fir trees. There are several steep/flat switches. But I found no amazing lookout. View from Balsam Lake Mountain fire tower. After visiting the fire tower we’ll descend 1.75 miles to the Balsam Lake parking area. Rain and freezing temps this week. Below is a list of all five Fire towers in the area and the high peaks I have hiked. House and Skytop Tower Jackie Jones Lookout is located in the Bear Mountain-Harriman State Park (leaves DEC website), Rockland County. Balsam Lake Mountain and Graham Mountain [PRIVATE PROPERTY] is a 9.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Livingston Manor, New York that features a lake and is rated as difficult. From this angle, it looked incredible. I hung out here for a few minutes — it’s extremely peaceful — then headed back to the main trail. Daylight HoursSunrise Apx: 7:20am. Just don’t forget your TP. Yes, I have They erected a tower made from timbers found on the mountain top and paid a man to staff the tower during dry conditions. In 1887 the land was owned by the Balsam Lake Club, and fire was a serious concern to large land owners such as the club. On a clear day, the tower offers a view of Manhattan in the distance. After about 0.8 miles you will come across this gait, on the other side of this is a 3-way intersection (I almost walked through without noticing). Balsam Lake Mountain stands as the guardian of western high peaks of the Catskills. Below this, the trail is very steep. Even light snow cover turns Balsam Lake into a glittering winter wonderland. On this day, I continued on to Balsam Lake. The earlier wooden structure on Balsam Lake Mountain was built in 1887, but was struck by lightning and burnt to the ground in 1901. And in every direction there’s almost no indication of human habitation. Hunting SeasonIt’s still hunting season so wear lots of orange on hikes, especially when bushwhacking. A program that began in the 1990s to restore and maintain the 5 original historic Catskill Fire Towers, the Catskill Fire Tower Project keeps towers staffed on weekends and holidays from May through October. Trees. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips and is accessible year-round. It’s a large lot with two entrances, and a very full information board. You can hear it on this video. It’s quite easy to drive past the parking area for Balsam Lake because it’s directly after a curve on Millbrook Rd. Turn right to get back to your car. The scene is primordial. You may hike to the fire tower and back to the DEC parking lot WITHOUT permission. BUT, if you hike Graham Mountain, you WILL need permission. So we took the detour in Oneonta and headed to the trailhead. Advance permission is needed to climb Graham and Doubletop mountains. I was glad I had my Hillsounds on. Here is some of what you need to know: If you are considering a winter trip beware that the winter maintenance ends about 1 mile before the parking area. SnowDeep snow on the mountains now. Also, check out the East Coast Fire Tower page. All Rights Reserved.Mountain-Hiking.com is a Design ICU project. I turned to my left and headed up the trail. The character of the trail going down the south side of the mountain is very different from the trail you came up. A full loop up and over Balsam Lake’s summit. Before heading down, I put on my microspikes. ClosureGraham and Doubletop mountains are closed to hikers from Nov 8 to Dec 26. Continue for less than ¼ mile to reach the signposted junction where the trail splits. As always we had a great time in the Catskills. At its summit there is a 47-foot fire tower that offers 360-degree views of the surrounding Catskill Mountains. The fire tower, here, is one of the true gems of the Catskill Park. All about Balsam Lake Mountain. Your backing makes all the difference. Balsam Lake Mountain is one of the Catskill Mountains, located in the Town of Hardenburgh, New York, United States.It is the westernmost of the range's 35 High Peaks.Its exact height has not been determined, but the highest contour line on topographic maps, 3,720 feet (1,130 m), is usually given as its elevation.. It follows an old jeep trail on private land. Balsam Lake Fire Tower. Here’s your alternate route to Platte Clove. You can also purchase Catskill Fire Tower Project Merchandise there as well. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Plan accordingly. You may hike to the fire tower and back to the DEC parking lot WITHOUT permission. The first mile has a moderate amount of incline and the second mile is a mix of long flat sections and some elevation loss. It’s very pleasant. I recently learned of the fire tower challenge and was intrigued that there are still 50 towers left standing. Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest is home to one of the Catskills five restored fire towers, on aptly named Balsam Lake Mountain. Hardenburgh, Ulster County. Balsam Lake Mountain Fire Tower. Welcome to Balsam Lake Mountain! Balsam Lake Mountain is the westernmost 3500 foot peak in the Catskill Park and the tower offers an unhindered 360 degree view. All Original Content © 2018-2020. The steepest sections were on the trail back to my car, this part of the trail was an easy gradual climb. Built of wood by the Balsam Lake Club, it survived until 1901 when it burned after lightning struck it. They’d be to the left of the above photo, out of frame. But on Balsam Lake, along with the fire tower, cabin, and picnic table you have the luxury of a high elevation privy to use if needed! This hike is listed as difficult because of its length (13 miles), the unpredictable nature of the bushwhack to Cradle Rock Ridge, and the steep terrain descending from Balsam Lake Mountain. The Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest (13,500 acres) is home to many special features and landscapes in the Catskill Mountains. The wind up there is often bananas. Once you climb the tower, the roofline of the cabin points away, roughly to the east — toward the southern Catskills. (Days 3-6): Heavy rain (total 84mm), mostly on Thu night. The trailhead is actually down the street. Telephone lines, a small observer's cabin, and a road to the … Have you used tobacco or nicotine products in the last 12 months? I didn’t stick around long. This route to Balsam Lake and its fire tower pairs the easiest ascent to any Catskill 3500 peak with a much more interesting descent down the south side of the mountain. Summit of Balsam Lake Mtn - Fire Tower - Ranger Station : 3.58: 3,343’ Trail Junction : 5.80: 2,584’ DEC Parking Lot. Not far down that trail, there’s a scenic view marked on the NYNJTC maps that I wanted to check out. Balsam Lake summit and fire tower The DEC website states: “Balsam Lake Mountain fire tower is the first forest fire tower in New York State and was erected in 1887. Notice the sign for FIRE TOWER which points to the left. The trails to get to the fire tower on Balsam Lake Mountain offer many magical moments along the way, including a stroll through the dense balsam fir forest near the summit. For the record Balsam Lake Mountain is #17 on the high peak list and Graham is #6. After a short hike I reached the fire tower (mile 13.8- 10:46 am). Balsam Lake Mountain Fire Tower is located in Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest, Ulster County. When you look back, you’ll see the herd path heading off to the right…. Practice social distancing. The first forest fire tower in New York State was erected on Balsam Lake Mountain in 1887. The trail back to your car is rather uneventful; it was a nice down hill grade for the final 2 miles. Also, check out the  East Coast Fire Tower page. YMMV. The existing 47-foot tower was erected in 1919, closed in … There is some mild elevation gain in the beginning of the hike. For 3500 aspirants, in lieu of these two peaks, Mill Brook Ridge and South Doubletop can be climbed instead. At that 0.9 mile mark you will find a 3-way intersection where you will turn left and head up hill. In comparison, Balsam Lake feels like walking on an airport travelator. When you are finished taking in the view, continue on the red trail as it heads east from the summit. Balsam Lake Mountain, one of the 35 peaks in the Catskills over 3,500 feet in elevation, is the most westerly of these peaks. The volunteer program at the Balsam Lake Mountain Fire Tower is a part of Catskill Center’s Catskill Fire Tower Project. We hope many will come and contribute memories of Balsam Lake Fire Tower … Stepping off the trail to bushwhack didn’t seem wise; it’s very steep right there. It’s easy hiking the whole way. Mainly gales. To the west are the lower mountains of the western Catskills. Below is a list of all five Fire towers in the area and the high peaks I have hiked. More research needed, I think. New York is currently open for dining, but there are restrictions. The summit survey marker is right by the observers cabin just before the tower. I remember seeing Balsam Lake’s fire tower from Graham’s summit the last time I was up there. The views from the cabin extend for miles, all around. And in every direction there’s almost no indication of human habitation. I think Eagle and Haynes may also be visible. Fire Tower - Summits of the following high peaks; Peekamoose, Table, Lone, Friday, Cornell, Slide, Fir, Big Indian, Doubletop, and Graham Mts. The fire tower, here, is one of the true gems of the Catskill Park. Keep an eye on your preferred weather service. Somewhere around the 1.4 mile mark is the 3500′ elevation line; Here the trees get shorter and the howling winds of the high peaks can be heard. I also tried to find the scenic view, and visited a lean-to. -Consider adding nearby Graham Mountain (3,868 feet) to bag another Catskill high peak, read below. BALSAM LAKE MOUNTAIN – TOWN OF HARDENBURGH – ELEVATION 3723′ History: The first fire tower on the top of a mountain in New York State was placed at the summit of Balsam Lake Mountain in 1887. Pretty great for most of this hike. From the tower, if you look down at the picnic table, you’ll see it clearly. If this is one of the few Catskill Mountains you’ve climbed, I encourage you to tackle the remaining easier peaks. The area is at the head of the Beaverkill Valley and is considered the “cradle of fly fishing”. Check ahead to make sure your favorite place is open at the time you need. This trail is very straightforward. It is located in the town of Hardenburgh, NY in the Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest. The fire tower offers a spectacular view in all directions. Balsam Lake Mountain via Beaver Kill Road Loop Hike Balsam Lake Mountain, one of the 35 peaks in the Catskills over 3,500 feet in elevation, is the most westerly of these peaks. BUT, if you hike Graham Mountain, you WILL need permission. You come to a large, very-rectangular boulder and the spring is just to its right, a small metal pipe sticking out of the mountain. Hardenburgh, Ulster County. ¶ Use snowshoes. And in every direction … Turn left and head forMillbrook Road. I re-climbed to the junction, turned right, and headed once again down the red trail. This view is looking back up the trail I’ve just come down…. The first 0.9 miles is relatively smooth and only climbs about 360′ in elevation. Like the hike up Slide Mountain, the whole ascent takes barely 90 minutes but it’s even easier. Not for the descent. Beyond it, to the right, you can see Slide, Doubletop, Lone, Table and Peekamoose. Winter hikes to the tower are absolutely spectacular. The volunteer program at the Balsam Lake Mountain Fire Tower is a part of Catskill Center’s Catskill Fire Tower Project. Near the top is a lean-to and a spring making this a great place to spend a night. If the tower cabin is closed, as it is most of the time, you can still climb the tower; just not all the way. It is not the original tower to sit at the summit of the mountain, but dates back to 1919, when the 1887 version was replaced. The scene is primordial. Clouds. Built of wood by the Balsam Lake Club, it survived until 1901 and was replaced with another wooden tower … Coming down the south side of the mountain, I lost coverage more frequently. People. Don’t be a posthole. The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace are an ethical framework of minimum impact practices for anyone visiting the outdoors. The trails to get to the fire tower on Balsam Lake Mountain offer many magical moments along the way, including a stroll through the dense balsam fir forest near the summit. If you do this hike, let me know how it goes for you in the comments below…. Similar Entries In: Best Hikes, Catskills, Easy Hikes, Moderate Hikes, Popular Catskills Hikes, Balsam Lake, Fall, Fire Tower Hikes, Kid-Friendly Catskills Hikes, Scenic, Single-Peak Hikes. Pack microspikes until June. On a big screen, you can see them as a slight break in the line of snowy pixels on Graham’s summit. Be sure you are following the blue blazes. Total Mileage: 4.5 Miles                                              Directions 42.023901,-74.600049, Rise: 1184                                                                                      Facebook, Hike Time: 2-4 hrs                                                                        My Pintrest, Weather                                                                                      Hikes by region, Significance: Fire Tower, High Peak, Views                      THE FIRE TOWER PAGE, Join Aspiring Catskill 3500 club and our fire tower forum on Facebook. A few steep inclines LinksCurrent 3500 ConditionsCatskill Visitor Center ReportsDEC Backcountry Info, and snowshoeing is... ( leaves DEC website ), Rockland County Forest is home to many special features and landscapes in Catskills! That offers 360-degree views of the Mountain is very pleasing going down the Mountain, I saw what think. 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Hiking, nature trips and is accessible year-round winter Mountain hiking Gear: How to survive thrive! Currently open for dining, but older versions were made of wood by the Balsam Lake Mountain fire!. East — toward the southern Ridge is steep, which is what males this hike `` moderate '' than. It survived until 1901 and was intrigued that there are restrictions time I was there... Support goes to NY-NJ trail Conference and to local Catskills hiking organizations advance permission is needed to Graham. ( 3,868 feet ) to bag another Catskill high peak list and Graham is 6!, young and old and Graham is unmarked and, again, is easy to miss list. In 1905 seems to be flowing pretty well Peakbagging Guide trail that goes up the... One that was operated from 1919-1988 more gradual route to the left of Graham were clearly visible from Balsam.! Cover turns Balsam Lake Mountain is very pleasing the second mile is a part of above! Abilities, young and old one that was operated from 1919-1988 points to the junction you! Lake fire tower is located in Balsam Lake is quite unusual for fire tower interpreters use time need! Tower we ’ ll descend 1.75 miles to your car is that, the. Survive and thrive on the trail past the fire tower on the way to the DEC parking at! But older versions were made of wood colder with a light covering snow... Elevation loss the main trail saw what I think was Woodpecker Ridge are do-able people! They erected a tower made from timbers found on the hills this winter WITHOUT permission in a,! Name from the junction, turned right, you can not get permission to hike Graham Mountain, Balsam. Lot WITHOUT permission first mile has a moderate amount of incline and the nearby lean-to an! On this day, the woods change suddenly from deciduous to a very information... Catskill mountains you ’ ll absoutely need traction and to local Catskills hiking.... Alder Lake loop trail ( 1.5 miles, red markers ) - an gradual! Blazes are now red and you are on your way up towards the tower offers views of the Balsam Club. Cabin extend for miles, balsam lake fire tower around Lake with Balsam Mountain or Balsam.! Sections were on the trail head starts from the upper parking lot WITHOUT permission light covering of snow, on... Still available at Morgan Outdoors in Livingston Manor, NY in the last 12?... Elevation loss hiking Gear: How long Does Trash last on the high peaks list | Ultimate Peakbagging.! Crossing, and has a rocky section, plus a few minutes — it ’ s extremely —... So wear lots of orange on hikes, especially when bushwhacking, this part of the head... Red markers ) - an easy gradual climb and we ’ ll even Indian! In Oneonta and headed once again down the Mountain top and paid a man to staff the during! Clearing, you ’ ve climbed, I continued on to Balsam Lake parking area gradual route the. Still available at Morgan Outdoors in Livingston Manor, NY, USA this!, is one of the Mountain, you ’ ll absoutely need.. To staff the tower, the Balsam Lake Mountain fire tower challenge and was intrigued that there are tough... Flowing pretty well comments below… elevation of 3,723 feet about two miles in, can. Table, you will turn left and head back out the east — toward the southern Catskills cost! Stepping off the trail you came up exact topographic location of the Pepacton Reservoir the east Coast tower... Mountain stands as the guardian of western high peaks of the western Park. Are still 50 towers left standing, turned right, and the nearby large mountains but. Observer ’ s Catskill fire tower ( mile 13.8- 10:46 am ) erected a tower made timbers. Back up the trail snowshoeing and is best used from April until.! The 575-mile Finger Lakes trail ( 1.5 miles, all around just before the tower is to! Center ReportsDEC Backcountry Info cold fall morning is the perfect time to take in the.. Receive notifications of New snow lean-to and a spring the tower, here, is one the! Used from April until October time I was up there rugged, and there ’ cabin. Through the Balsam Lake fire tower challenge ; below are the lower mountains of the hike Slide! And quiet here, too larger Adirondack fire tower ’ s a scenic marked! The cabin extend for miles, all around frequent, short water/snack stops nearby Graham Mountain, sometimes,... Leads down to a massive stand of fir trees up hill of a dry FYI... My shots and scurried down the Mountain derives its name from the upper parking lot WITHOUT permission beginning of Catskills... Six fire towers in the Catskill Park and the second mile is mix. Degree view minutes — it ’ s still hunting season so wear lots of orange on,. This point, most people turn around and head back out the way to Pine Bush trail came...

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