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Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest Trail

MODERATE 111 reviews
#15 of 88 trails in

Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest Trail is a 4.3 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Livingston Manor, New York that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 4.3 miles Elevation Gain: 1,181 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

camping

cross country skiing

hiking

mountain biking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

muddy

rocky

scramble

snow

Directions from Ulster County, NY: The Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest lies primarily in Ulster County encompassing the town of Hardenburgh and stretching to the towns of Middletown and Andes which lie in Delaware County. Trailhead parking and recreation area access is well marked. The more popular trailheads include:Dry Brook Ridge Trailhead - Located on Mill Brook Road in the town of Hardenburgh, 8 miles south of Arkville.Kelly Hollow Trailhead - Located on Mill Brook Road in the town of Middletown, 13 miles southeast of Margaretville.Alder Lake Trailhead - Located at the end of Alder Creek Road / Route 54 in the town of Hardenburgh, 18 miles north of Livingston Manor.Hardenburgh Trailhead - Located on Beaverkill Road in the town of Hardenburgh, 6 miles east of Turnwood.Balsam Lake Mountain Trailhead - Located at the eastern end of the Beaverkill Road in Hardenburgh, 8 miles east of Turnwood.

This is a fantastic hike! I completed this with my 5 and 11 year old without any difficulty. We chose to do the loop going up the Steep side first. If I were you are doing this with less experienced hikers or with little ones it's still doable this way. However you could go the Long Way both up and down with very little difficulty whatsoever. If the Firetower is open the view at the top is absolutely breathtaking. Today the cabin and the tower were open and the volunteers were super friendly. My only issue with this Trail is getting there. We drove miles through the woods on dirt roads and I was kind of confused as to where the GPS was taking us. All of a sudden we were at the Balsam Lake trailhead and it was super easy from there.

hiking
rocky
scramble
5 days ago

The final 12 mile drive is a single lane gravel and dirt road with no shoulder. Finding the trail is easy - take the gravel road past another trail lot to the end of the road and you are at the Balsam lot. Trail is marked well - follow the red trail markers all the way up. Pitch is very stair-like. Not a technical climb just a steady ascent. Just prior to the 3,500 elevation sign is the camp area and lean to. There is only enough room here for 3 parties. On a busy weekend it is possible there will be no place left to camp. Forest changes to alpine trees above 3,500 feet, which I enjoyed. There is a tapped water spring here, which the volunteers say is potable water. I would still filter it just in case. Diarrhea on a trail like this (or any trail for that matter) would be horrible. On top, tower view is partially obstructed by every window being screwed closed. You can take photos one flight of stairs below the top. Volunteers are friendly. There is a picnic table, a privy, and a cabin up top. Pack for the unexpected. Weather changes quick up here. Was forecast to be 58 and sunny when I camped. Turned into 38 and steady rain. I set my tent up inside the lean to. Heading down watch your footing. I took a terrible fall on wet leaves and rocks.

hiking
6 days ago

Beautiful views from Fire Tower. The balsam trees smell heavenly at the top. The trail is mostly moderate except the shorter, steeper trail is difficult, but worth it!

hiking
24 days ago

Great trail. Challenge worthy - the payoff is the view from the Tower. When you get to the top - the trees just smell fantastic- you are amazed by it.

Super cool trail, I love all the greenery. The trail gets pretty steep if you stay to the left at the fork - very tough but worth it. There’s an old fire tower at the top too that you’re able to climb, so you can see the views from the top of the mountain. Just wish there were more lookout points along the trail itself. Overall, I would definitely hike this trail again.

hiking
1 month ago

We enjoyed this trail - hiked up the red trail and continued the loop as depicted on the blue trail. We hiked early to beat the rain, but unfortunately there were no views to be had because of the clouds. Oh well.. enjoyed it anyway. Not another hiker out there this morning. Nice blackberries ripening in first quarter mile too.

hiking
muddy
rocky
1 month ago

Great hike! The trail up to the tower is steep and rocky and goes on forever, but, the views from the top of the tower were worth the work!

hiking
1 month ago

It was a bit rocky in spots and steep in one but that is to be expected on a mountain trail. The smell of the balsam trees near the top make it worth the trip. So far our favorite NY trail.

hiking
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

hiking
bugs
muddy
over grown
rocky
2 months ago

Great hike! If you are going up the accent on the steep graded side be ready for some work. Stunning view from within the tower. Overall great trail slightly overgrown on one or two locations but not bad at all.

hiking
3 months ago

Peaceful quiet hike! It starts easy then get pretty steep and rocky for a while. Once you reach the top at the fire tower it’s a lovely little opening with a picnic table. Gorge views from the tower itself. Very pretty walk back on the loop. Well marked is a plus for me!!

hiking
bugs
muddy
3 months ago

Rated as moderate but I thought it was pretty easy. I did the hike with a friend and three kids 8 to 10 yrs. Black flies as expected this time of year. Beautiful views from the tower.

hiking
muddy
4 months ago

Such a great hike. Kind if tricky on the way down with all the loose rocks.

hiking
4 months ago

Easy hike. no views.

hiking
bugs
muddy
rocky
4 months ago

This has to be one of the prettiest trails I’ve done. Close to the summit, the trees and ground coverage are like something from a fairytale. The first mile of the trail starts out relatively flat and wider, then you take a sharp left and go straight up. Steep but not terribly steep. The views from the fire tower are amazing of all the balsam trees surrounding. And it smells like Christmas!

Balsam Lake fire tower and Graham #1 and #2 of 35. Great first hike of the summer!

hiking
4 months ago

Trail head is very secluded, a rough 10 mile one lane dirt road. First half of the trail is pretty flat, second half has a good incline to it with a good amount of rocks. All in all a short hike with good views.

5 months ago

great quick hike

hiking
muddy
snow
6 months ago

Beautiful views from tower! Very windy! Though we were going to blow off if it lol.

hiking
6 months ago

Wasn’t expecting the sudden steep incline but it was so worth it! The top of the mountain is covered in thick pine trees and is so breath taking.

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