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Balsam Lake Mountain and Fire Tower

Balsam Lake Mountain

Overview of this Hike:

Distance: 5.80 miles round trip from the DEC Parking Lot on Mill Brook Road.
Time: Average 3.25 hours round trip
Elevation Gain: 1,147 feet from the DEC Parking Lot and the summit.
Best Time to Hike: Anytime.
Difficulty: Easy
VO Map No: 62 & 83
Catskill Highest: #17
Peak Elevation: 3,731'
Digital Mapper: Topo Terrain Satellite
Attractions: Nice walk year around - common winter snowshoe and ski trail
Attractions: Spectacular views from the top of the fire tower on a clear day.
Dangers: None known.
Common Animals: birds.
Risky Animals: Rattlesnakes (none known), Bears (Low),
Access Methods: Foot, ski, and snowshoe



Maps, Profile, and GPS files

Balsam Lake Mountain GPS map
Balsam Lake Mountain elevation profile
Click here to download the GPS file in Garmin GDB format
Click here to download the GPS file in Garmin GPX format
Click here to download the GPS file in Garmin TEXT format




Directions to Trail Head from New York State Thruway (Easist, not the shortest):

  • GPS Coordinates to DEC Parking Lot: N42 04.243 W74 34.416 - Elevation is approximately 2,584 feet
  • Take New York State Thruway to Exit 19 (Kingston).
  • Take a right out of the NYS Thruway toll booths onto Rt 28.
  • Go approximately 33 miles west on Rt 28
  • Take a left onto Rt 49A at Highmount (Belleayre Ski Center)
  • Go 5 miles to the end of Rt 49A.
  • Take a LEFT onto Rt 49/7A/Dry Brook Road
  • Go appoximately 1.25 miles to Mill Brook Road.
  • Take a RIGHT onto Mill Brook Road
  • Go approximately 2-3 miles on Mill Brook Road
  • The DEC Parking lot is on the RIGHT side of the road



  • Special Circumstances about this Hike

    This is a great hike any time of the year. It is also a common hike in the Winter.



    Mile Stone Chart

    Mile PointAltitudeNotes
    0.002,584 DEC Parking Lot - N41 56.139 W74 19.692 - Walk across the street to the trailhead.
    0.332,790 Registration Box.
    2.103,365' Trail Junction
    2.753,754' Summit of Balsam Lake Mtn - Fire Tower - Ranger Station
    3.583,343 Trail Junction
    5.802,584 DEC Parking Lot.

    Hike to Balsam Lake Mountain

    Balsam Lake Mountain
    The picture on the left is the DEC parking lot off of Mill Brook Road.

    The trailhead is actually down the street. It follows an old jeep trail on private land. There is some mild elevation gain in the beginning of the hike.
    Balsam Lake Mountain
    Balsam Lake Mountain
    The picture shows some Chicken Mushroom that we found near the beginning of this hike.

    At mile post 0.33 you will find the Registration Box. We suggest that you register. The more people who register, the more money is devoted to maintenance of the trial.
    Balsam Lake Mountain
    Balsam Lake Mountain
    At mile post 2.10 you will come to this Trail Junction. Right will take you up to the Fire tower and summit. Straight will take you down the other side of the mountain. Go RIGHT.
    Balsam Lake Mountain
    There are two signs at this Trail Junction. Both are shown here.
    Balsam Lake Mountain
    Balsam Lake Mountain
    After 200 feet up the trail, you will come to a gate. You should go around the gate. The gate is there to keep vehicles from going up the trail. Most of the trail coming up to the Trail Jucntion is private land.

    After the gate the trail becomes steeper and goes thru a series of switchbacks.
    Balsam Lake Mountain
    Balsam Lake Mountain
    The picture on the LEFT shows the conifers after the steep climb. The trail is cut thru the thick conifers.

    Just before reaching the summit, you will encounter the Ranger Station. The ranger station is shown on the right.
    Balsam Lake Mountain
    Balsam Lake Mountain
    At the summit is the Fire Tower shown in the picture. The Fire Tower has been restored. This includes a stainless steel roof and new windows. The view from the fire tower is excellent. You can also see the Pepactan Reservoir.

    Links and References:
    Tell us about your Trip & Read about other people's experience
    Balsam Lake Mtn Fire Tower Information
    NYS DEC information on Balsam Lake Mtn Wild Forest


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