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Balsam Mountain
Catskill 35 Index CHH Index NJ1K Index

Balsam is often done in conjunction with Eagle. Several approaches are possible with the shorter ones being steep and the gentler climbs being long. This Balsam is one of three 3550's with Balsam in its name.




Trailhead Coordinates
Name Coordinates
McKinley Hollow N42.0710 W74.4740
Rider Hollow N42.1019 W74.5170
Lost Clove N42.1058 W74.4701
Biscuit Brook N41.9911 W74.4849
Segar Hollow N42.0579 W74.5390

Quick Look - Eagle and Balsam from McKenley Hollow
Difficulty Round trip Total climb Location Internet Maps
Trail difficultyTrail difficultyTrail difficultyTrail difficulty 8.8 mi. 2910 ft. N42.0908 W74.4886 GPSies

CHH peak map

Take the Claryville Rd. north from Rt. 55 in Curry outside of Grahamsville. Just short of Claryville turn left onto the Frost Valley Rd. Pass the Frost Valley YMCA camp and continue on passing the Big Indian and Slide Mt. trail heads of the right and the Panther Mt. Parking area at the hairpin turn on the left. Look for McKenley Hollow Rd. on the left. You may also come in from Rt. 28 in Big Indian and look for McKenley Hollow Rd. on your right. Turn here, drive to the end of the road and pull into the parking area.

Walk up the road and look for the red-blazed Oliveria-Mapledale trail on the left. Turn onto this trail and cross a bridge over a stream. There are two MORE water crossings that do NOT have bridges and can be tricky after it has rained. In .6 miles you will be at the lean-to. Pass the lean-to and watch as the trail turns left and crosses the stream. Continue for another 1.15 miles on this trail at which point it crosses the blue-blazed Pine Hill-West Branch Trail. This trail is VERY STEEP in places and can be interesting both ascending and descending! It is also lined with nettles during the spring and summer.

Turn left on the blue-blazed trail. Stay on this trail for 2.15 miles to reach the summit of Eagle Mt. (3600 ft.). You will also pass over Haynes Mt. which falls only 80 ft. short of being 3500. Turn around and backtrack along the blue-blazed trail to the junction with the red-blazed Oliveria-Mapledale trail. Turn right to return to the parking area. Continue straight ahead for .75 miles to the summit of Balsam Mt. (3600 ft.). Turn around and retrace your route to the red-blazed trail. Turn left and hike 1.85 miles back to the parking area.

(The image at the left is the vertical profile for the entire hike.) CHH peak profile


Quick Look - Balsam from McKenley Hollow
Difficulty Round trip Total climb Location Internet Maps
Trail difficultyTrail difficultyTrail difficultyTrail difficulty 4.6 mi. 1877 ft. N42 05.45 W74 29.30 GPSies

CHH peak map

Take the Claryville Rd. north from Rt. 55 in Curry outside of Grahamsville. Just short of Claryville turn left onto the Frost Valley Rd. Pass the Frost Valley YMCA camp and continue on passing the Big Indian and Slide Mt. trail heads of the right and the Panther Mt. Parking area at the hairpin turn on the left. Look for McKenley Hollow Rd. on the left. Turn here and pull into the parking area near the end of the road. Look for the red-blazed Oliveria-Mapledale trail. Continue for 1.85 miles on this trail at which point it crosses the blue-blazed Pine Hill-West Branch Trail. The trail up from the parking area is steep at times and lined with nettles during the summer. Turn right on the blue-blazed trail Stay on this trail for .75 miles to reach the summit of Balsam Mt. (3600 ft.). Turn around and backtrack along the blue-blazed trail to the junction with the red-blazed Oliveria-Mapledale trail. Turn left to return to the parking area. Continue straight ahead for 2.15 miles to the summit of Eagle Mt. (3600 ft.). Turn around and retrace your route to the red-blazed trail. Turn right and hike 1.85 miles back to the parking area.

CHH peak profile
(The image below is the vertical profile for the hike. This shows the profile for the hike to Balsam Mountain only.)


Quick Look - Balsam from Rider Hollow
Difficulty Round trip Total climb Location Internet Maps
Trail difficultyTrail difficultyTrail difficultyTrail difficulty 6.2 mi. (4.7 mi. w/o side trip to Belleayre 2188 ft. N42 03.70 W74 30.62 GPSies

CHH peak map

From Route 28 in Arkville take Dry Brook Road toward Mapledale. There are other possibilities but this may be the easiest the first time. Continue on Dry Brook Road until the hamlet of Mapledale. Turn left on Todd Mountain Road. Bear to the left when Baker Road goes slightly right. Pass over the bridge and take the next right. This road is not marked but is Rider Hollow Road. If you need to ask for directions, mention the Hardenburgh Town Hall! Continue on this road as it narrows and becomes a dirt road. Park in the parking area at the end.

The map shows a loop hike with a side trip to Belleayre. The summit of Belleayre is a field with no view. You may leave this part out or hike out to the ski slopes. The latter is well worth the extra time and distance! The loop can be done in either direction or it could be turned into an out and back. The description here uses the Oliveria Mapledale Trail to go up and the Mine Hollow Trail to return.

Sign in at the trail register and get on the red Oliveria Mapledale Trail. This trail is wide at this point and follow Todd Brook for a distance. Soon you will pass over the brook on a wooden bridge. After less than .5 miles, you will be at the junction with the Mine Hollow Trail. Turn right and go back over the brook on an interesting steel bridge. At .5 miles there is a lean-to. The trail continues crossing over the brook at least 4 times! When the water is higher, some of these crossings could be a problem! After the third crossing, the trail starts to get steep and the ever-present nettles begin to close in. Following the fourth crossing, the trail get even more rugged until it levels as it approaches the four corners trail junction in the col between Balsam and Eagle. Turn left on the blue blazed Pine Hill West Branch Trail.

This trail climbs Balsam Mountain without too many steep areas. Within .7 miles you are at the highest point on the mountain. There is little to mark your accomplishment and if you turn around at this point you will miss a nice lookout. Continue on this trail. Do not be fooled by the many dead end side trails. You will be tempted by many glimpses through the trees. The lookout is very obvious and just off the trail as you begin to descend. After the lookout the trail descends into a flat Col between Balsam and Belleayre. The yellow markings of the Mine Hollow Trail and a sign soon appear. From here you may turn left and return to the car or you may go straight ahead to explore Belleayre.

The Mine Hollow Trail may be the easiest way up to Balsam and Belleayre. The trail has areas covered by a green vine and is never very steep. It is possible to descend VERY quickly. In addition, there is only one water crossing without a bridge over a very small tributary of Todd Brook. After 1 mile you will be back at the trail junction by the steel bridge. Another .3 miles puts you back at the parking area. CHH peak profile

(The image at the left is the vertical profile for the hike. This shows the profile for the hike to Balsam Mountain and Belleayre. Leave out Belleayre cuts about 1.8 miles from the hike!)


Quick Look - Balsam bushwhack from McKenley Hollow
Difficulty Round trip Total climb Location Internet Maps
Trail difficultyTrail difficultyTrail difficultyTrail difficulty 4.8 mi 2140 ft. N42 03.70 W74 30.62 GPSies

CHH peak map

Take the Claryville Rd. north from Rt. 55 in Curry outside of Grahamsville. Just short of Claryville turn left onto the Frost Valley Rd. Pass the Frost Valley YMCA camp and continue on passing the Big Indian and Slide Mt. trail heads of the right and the Panther Mt. Parking area at the hairpin turn on the left. Look for McKenley Hollow Rd. on the left. You may also come in from Rt. 28 in Big Indian and look for McKenley Hollow Rd. on your right. Turn here, drive to the end of the road and pull into the parking area.

Walk up the road and look for the red-blazed Oliveria-Mapledale trail on the left. Turn onto this trail and cross a bridge over a stream. There are two MORE water crossings that do NOT have bridges and can be tricky after it has rained. In .6 miles you will be at the lean-to. Pass the lean-to and watch as the trail turns left and crosses the stream. At this point continue on a path or woods road heading north and up. Since this is a bushwhack there is no trail to follow. Watch your compass and map or GPS to keep on the correct heading. Watch your step and look ahead to avoid cliff and ledges. At the top of Balsam you should be able to pick up the blue trail. Turn left on this trail and descend about .75 miles to the col between Balsam and Eagle. Turn left onto the red Oliveria-Mapledale Trail and hike 1.85 miles back to the parking area. CHH peak profile

(The image at the left is the vertical profile for the hike in a counterclockwise direction.)