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Hiking in Catskill Park
Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest
The Alder Lake Loop Trail is located in the 13,500 acre Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest, which is located in the southwest corner of Catskill Park. This scenic loop trail features eight designated primitive campsites located near the lake and trail, which makes it a popular short backpacking excursion. The ruins of the Coykendall Lodge sit near the start of the trail and offer the first views of scenic Alder Lake.
Alder Lake provides opportunities for picnicking with accessible picnic tables, accessible parking, an informational kiosk and a seasonal accessible port-a-john. The panorama above features Alder Lake. The short 1.5 mile loop hike around the lake is easy enough for most members of your family. It is a recommended hike to do if you are in the Catskills, especially in autumn when the leaves are changing color.
The hike starts at the trail register, just off the main parking area. After exploring the ruins of the lodge and taking pictures of your first view of Alder Lake, follow the well worn path toward the left (north) as you will be going around the lake in a clockwise direction. You are following red DEC plastic markers for this hike. After just 0.1 miles of walking you reach the yellow DEC camping marker and a short side trail on the left that leads to the first of eight designated campsites around the lake.
You'll pass the second designated campsite on the left at 0.2 miles and then the third campsite at 0.5 miles, also on the left. After passing the third campsite the trail crosses a scenic little brook on a bridge. Another bridge is crossed in 150 feet. The trail joins an old wide woods road, where another designated campsite is located toward the left. The trail passes a nice piped spring at 0.6 miles and reaches the junction of the Mill Brook Ridge Trail at 0.7 miles.
The yellow marked Mill Brook Ridge Trail ascends 1.5 miles to the Beaver Meadow Lean To and then on to the Balsam Lake Mountain Trail in 5.9 miles. Continue on the red marked Alder Lake Loop Trail and soon cross a major stream on a large bridge. There is a real nice and popular campsite down a path on the right. Another side trail leads to another campsite on the right.
The trail now climbs gently and the lake is below you. You will pass on your right an interesting tree that somehow has found a way to grow on top of a large boulder. After crossing the height of land, the trail again descends to a small bridge at 1.2 miles. A side trail on the left climbs to the last of the designated campsites on the lake. Another campsite below on the right has "No Camping Allowed" signs.
Stay on the main path as you pass numerous herd paths. Soon the trail enters a large open area and travels toward the outlet dam. The trail crosses the dam and you make your way back toward the lodge ruins and the parking area. Look below for directions, a few pictures, maps and a video of this great hike in the Catskills.
Directions to Alder Lake
Alder Lake is located in Ulster County. Take exit 96 off of NY 17 and go to the "T" intersection near Livingston Manor. Turn right, go approximately 1 mile and make a right onto Johnson Hill Road (Sullivan County Route 151/Beaverkill Road). At the steel bridge in Turnwood, turn left onto Alder Creek Road (Ulster County Route 54). Go past the Beaverkill Fish Hatchery and continue until the road changes to dirt. Make a right onto Access Road to Alder Lake. It is the road that has a gate. About 3 miles north of Turnwood. Drive the one lane access road to the large parking area at the end of the road. The GPS coordinates of the parking area is N42 02.986 W74 40.932 for those who have a GPS devise in their vehicle.
First designated campsite at Alder Lake
Camping at Alder Lake
Primitive camping is allowed at sites marked with round, yellow, DEC markers or throughout wild forest lands at least 150 feet from any trail, road, spring, stream, pond, lake, or other water source. Camping is prohibited above 3500 feet in elevation from March 22 until December 20 each year to protect the fragile summit environment. A camping permit is required for groups of ten or more people. A permit is also required to camp at the same site for more than three consecutive nights.
Campfires are permitted below 3500 feet in elevation, but only dead and down fuel may be used. In an established campsite, use the existing fire ring. Before you leave, completely extinguish the fire. Never leave a fire unattended. The use of camp stoves is encouraged by the NY DEC.
The last time we visited Alder Lake on a Wednesday at the end of May, none of the designated campsites were taken. The only person who was there had taken a camping spot that was clearly marked "No Camping Allowed". Some
Fishing at Alder Lake
Alder Lake supports a high quality wild brook trout fishery and is one of only a few lakes to provide such a fishing experience in the Catskills. A minimum size limit of 10 inches and a possession limit of 3 fish per day are currently employed to maintain this quality fishing experience. In addition, the use of any fish as bait is prohibited to prevent the establishment of species that would compete with native brook trout.
Alder Lake Loop Trail is well defined and easy to follow
Lodge ruins and picnic tables
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