Sunday, February 15, 2009

Hiking, Snowshoeing - Balsam Lake Mountain

At 3723', Balsam Lake Mountain is the 17th highest of New York's Catskill Mountains. Since the trail starts at 2600' and follows the old fire observer's road to the summit, it's a fairly gradual 1100' gain over three miles.

I tagged along on a Schenectady ADK outing today to Balsam Lake, and it was even easier than we expected. The trail was well-packed, temperatures were in the lower 20s, and skies were a brilliant blue. It took us a little over 2 hours to reach the summit and its fire tower.

The summit clearing is surrounded by trees, and there is no view without climbing the tower steps. The cabin on top is locked, but the views from the highest landing were excellent today, with numerous other Catskill peaks visible in many directions. It was also extremely windy up there, so I didn't tarry long. The best views were directly into the sun, so any pictures would have dubious success, but the twin balsam covered peaks of Doubletop (3860') can be seen in this shot.

After eating a quick lunch, we headed down and back to the cars, taking only a little over an hour, and started on the long-ish drive home.

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