Balsam Mountain Loop Trail is a 9.3 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Arkville, NY that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.
My first hike 3 months after 2 knee surgeries and as if it wasn't exciting enough - my very first hike on snowshoes :) Fortunately, when we came to the beginning of the loop, we chose to go to the right. We had to skip Eagle due to the lateness of the hour (we started too late) and we ended up on a steep slope down, which we continued hiking either sliding on our butts or in my case - on my face giggling for the next 10 min :) - it takes time to get use to wearing snow shoes, but fortunately the snow was fluffy so I survived this experiment. I am planning on completing both mountains the last weekend of July. It will definitely feel different with all this lush foliage around ...
We hiked Balsam and Eagle from the Rider Hollow PA. In the summer this isn't a hike for the views since we saw none. In the winter, I am told there are views from the top of Balsam. We did however see a bear in the col between Haynes Mtn and Eagle. As we passed near his position in a tree just 40 feet off the trail we must have frightened him because he came out of that tree giving way to gravity about 15 feet off the ground. Once he hit the forest floor he shot out like a rocket in the direction away from us. We was obviously frightened him and we were to stunned to do anything but stare. We sang "It's a Pirate's Life for Me" all the way to the top of Eagle just to give advance notice to any other bears in the area. Lots of scat on the trail to Eagle and Balsam, so if you are hiking these two mountains in September, be alert. The trailhead from Rider Hollow is about 300 feet higher and a quarter mile shorter than the one from McKinley Hollow on the opposite side of the ridgeline, so Rider Hollow has my vote, plus the trail itself is smooth and less rocky than normally seen in the Catskills.
Fun hike. Good view from the fire tower.