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hiking
2 days ago

We hiked the loop in a counter-clockwise direction, so the sun would be behind us for the majority of the hike, and it was really nice. The water wasn't high, so the stream crossings weren't an issue for us. The first third of the trek was pretty easy, but then it increases in difficulty considerably, gaining the bulk of the 1700+ feet of elevation in just a mile and a half. I would consider it a moderate hike overall, but it was gorgeous in the snow, and makes any strain worth the effort. Once above 3500 feet, it became a winter wonderland. The forest and streams, not to mention the view, were beautiful.

There was a coating of ice on top of the snow which made for slippery conditions. Bring micro spikes or crampons. Once you make it to the hunters cabin(private property), look to the right and follow the blue paint blaze for Vly. There wasn't any views at the top but there were a couple of spots where you could see out through the trees. Once you make it back down, follow the snowmobile trail to the top of Bearpen. There was a pretty big clearing and lookout just past the summit. No canister on Bearpen.

My 8-year old and I did this last weekend after a pretty significant snowfall. We ascended up Jimmy Dolan and that was pretty easy for us. We really didn’t need our microspikes for it. Coming down the the other side was much more challenging.

One spot that is pretty well photographed here is about 30 feet down and steep. I ended up just lowering off my son with a 50’ section of rope I brought just in case and it was much safer. It could be climbed down safely with an axe by most people.

The rest of it was pretty straightforward, but challenging. We ended up walking more like 7mi and the snow makes that a little tougher. Would only recommend this for people who know what they’re getting into (my kid climbs, etc. and is pretty good).

You’ll find a couple good spots to take in a view, although not on the peak. Enjoy!

Hiked from Rider Hollow parking area on October 21, did the loop clockwise with spur out over Haynes to Eagle Mtn. Just short of 10 miles total, about 5 hours. Started before 7 and was the first to sign into register that day, didn't see anyone til 3 hours later, and saw total of 6 other hikers so was a nice quiet morning.
Snow covering on top of both Balsam and Eagle, brought microspikes along for first time of the season but didn't need them that morning with barely any ice seen.
I didn't feel there was an issue whatsoever following the trail for the duration even with the leaves or snow, and even starting out in the predawn conditions. Descending from the 2 high peaks the mossy rocks were a bit slick. Creeks and streams were all flowing pretty good, the last stream crossing on my route (big one back down low by lean-to) was still low enough to stay dry with careful rock-hopping. Only views from the trail were on Balsams northern summit area.
Nice variety of scenery on this trail with the deciduous sections, short ledgey area, beautiful tight trail through some firs on top, valley trail down toward rider hollow.
Couldn't come across a reason to drop off a star from rating.

This was our last Firetower of the Catskill Firetower Challenge weekend. The location is very remote. The first 0.9 miles is relatively flat. We took the right, clockwise turn up the steep pitch on the trail which wasn’t that bad really, I would suggest microspikes though. From the junction the summit was 1.8 miles from the trailhead. Instead of doing the loop we just turned around and made our way down the slope again, cutting almost a mile from the loop. The tower is in good shape and the views were stunning.

The hike up Vly was pretty well marked with large blue blazes all the way up to the canister. There were some steep sections and some parts where the tread was thick mud, loose rock, or covered in slick leaves. It was a fun scramble and there are some great moss covered boulders, but it wasn't easy. No views up top.

Going up Bearpen was pretty uneventful. Mostly an old secondary road but eventually splits off into a snow machine trail that doesnt seem to get a lot of use. Decent amount of blowdown and A LOT of mud. Once off the road, the blazes become less frequent and I would imagine it would be easy to lose the trail in the winter. Two clearings at the top with some good views.

Did this hike on Oct. 24th and there was snow above 3100’. Really beautiful the entire way. Great transition from autumn colors down by the creek to snow up on the peak.

Also didn’t see anyone else the entire hike, so it’s a good trail for some solitude.

I just did the yellow to blue and then back from the summit. But I’ll agree with prior reviews that yellow to blue to red... aka clockwise is probably a good bet if the creeks are flowing high and fast.

It’s easy to get off trail with the leaves down/snow on the trail so be on the lookout for the markers.

The photos that people are posting of the lake are false. That is a different hike in Keene, NY. Don't let them mislead you.

Hiked October 13, 2018. Rained the night before, so it was very muddy - not much drainage to speak of. Some mild scrambling, nothing to be afraid of. Some views towards the top. Leaves were out in force, which made it worth it. Be advised that the peak is wooded and unmarked. Made that mistake the first time I did this hike - you’ll have no idea you’re at the top until you start going down again. Pretty slippery on the way down, but we took our time. We did this in just over 5 hours with plenty of breaks. Would rate this as moderate.

Beautiful views, tough trail. Very muddy, and one particularly steep section (read: you must climb up a rock face). Overall, this trail is dedicated to my trekking poles, without whom I would have face-planted many times.

We also went up twin mountain from here: highly recommend. The view from there is breathtaking.

hiking
3 months ago

This was a great hike. Strenuous at times (I agree with those who say it's more moderate/hard) the view was worth it and the Forrest itself was beautiful!

Great hike. The beginning is leisurely and includes views of waterfalls / a stream. Once you get to the bridge take a quick right and head on the other side of the stream (I went left at the bridge initially). The hike up is steep at points and decently challenging - there is some climbing involved and felt a bit longer than 6 miles total. The view at the top is worth the trek but note this is a moderate to hard hike on the way up.

Very doable. Did it ccw and the way up (red) was rockier and the way down (red to blue) was muddier. Pretty easy otherwise. Views from the tower, one view spot on the way down. Good hike for a half day activity (drive from 17 included).

Nice hike. Took us four hours moving slowly. About like Giant Ledges in terrain. Great view spot at the top but for us it was a view of fog. It opened up enough to see it could be very nice. If you do the loop go clockwise, yellow-blue-red. The red trail hugs the creek and crosses several times. Better to get wet at the end.

Did my own route to Balsam and Eagle. Only one vista. It was def an easier high peak going up both mountains.

It was a great day hiking Indian Head and Twin Mountains. The weather was great as were the views. There was a lot of people on the trails today. The trail wasn’t too steep heading up to the ridge. Very enjoyable hike.

Meilleur hike que j’ai fais jusqu’à présent ! La vue était incroyable. 4h allez/retour avec les pauses et le dîner au sommet. Je le recommande

This is a logging road, very steep straight up trail. Do not recommend. But pretty drove to get there.

Great solitary hike! My wife and I did this hike on the Wednesday before Labor Day and we didn’t see a single other person the entire time. So if you like “lightly trafficked” this is your hike!

Some things to note: The views on the summit are spread out. You have to go past the summit as indicated on the AllTrails map to get to some ledges with outstanding views.

The “moderate” rating of this trail turns hard towards the summit when the snowmobile trail becomes a steep rock slide.

Also, the trail splits where there is a danger sign. I stayed on the well established snowmobile trail as the danger sign trail is becoming overgrown.

This would be an amazing hike during late fall or early spring as the views would be spectacular.

This was definitely challenging especially with the 90 degree temperature and humidity. We decided to do this while hiking to Echo Lake so I don't think we were mentally prepared. Challenging both ways. At the top not much of a view but there were a few nice overlooks with great views before reaching the top. I would do this again but wait for a cooler day.

nice walk in the woods and a beautiful view from the fire tower.

Did this along with twin mountain yesterday. Super muddy but definitely not impossible. Nice climbs and super rocky at parts. Took longer than expected to finish and some views have overgrown trees unfortunately. A nice workout nonetheless.

hiking
4 months ago

Loved this. Hard challenging uphill. Spectacular views. Descent was challenging even more so by torrential rain (that wasn't in the forecast for another 4 hours..!). Can't wait to do it again. Total immersion in nature. You need to be less fit and more resourcefully able to do it. Took my thighs a few days to recover.

Great hike! Beautiful from the minute you get on the trail all the way up to the outlook! The waterfalls were awesome! Gets pretty steep and a little tough to hike on the way up but nothing extremely difficult. We hiked on a mild summer day after rain the day before so it was a little muddy in some spots. We really took our time to enjoy the waterfalls, the outlook point, and we took a little break on the way up so it took us about 6 hours to complete the entire trail.

hiking
5 months ago

Easy to follow, beautiful view at top

Hiked on 7/28. Awesome hike, steep in spots, great lookouts when offered. Recommend going up the Devils Path and down through Jimmy Dolan Notch.

I’ve never climbed a mountain and I chose to do Balsam Lake Mountain because of the fire tower for my birthday. M

Does the trail have spectacular views? No, but it’s well marked which is exactly what I was looking for.

The last 3/4 miles were brutal, but in a good way. Once I got to the summit it all became worth it.

The weather was great, the views were breathtaking, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

10/10, would recommend.

Great vertical ascents and views! Especially between Blackhead and Black Dome. You can cruise through these 3 peaks if you time the crowds and weather right.

hiking
5 months ago

Quick hike, rocky. Went counterclockwise, poles for the descent are handy. Lovely view from top.

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