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Best of the Finger Lakes Trail
Hiking in the Catskills

Balsam Lake


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A popular 3.4 mile round trip hike to a fire tower utilizing the Finger Lakes Trail.  There is a 1190 foot elevation gain for this moderate hike.  The views are excellent.

DIRECTIONS:  From Syracuse (3 hours).  I-81 South to NY 17/I-86 East to EXIT 96 Livingston Manor.  Turn right off exit, then a right on County Road 179 (Old Rt 17).  Turn right on County Road 151 aka Beaverkill Road.  Drive 20 miles on Beaverkill Road until the end of the road.  This is where the trailhead is located.  The last few miles of the road is dirt, but drivable. 

Mile Elevation Hike Description (Red Line on map below)
0.0 2535 feet

Balsam Lake Mountain Trailhead.  There are two trails leading out of this large parking area, follow the blue discs (fire tower sign).  This trail is part of the Finger Lakes Trail, but is aka Dry Brook Ridge Trail.

0.1 2547 feet

Trail Register.

0.9 2890 feet

Reach junction of Balsam Lake Mountain Trail.  Turn left and begin steep ascent.  Follow Red Discs.  This is also the Finger Lakes Trail.

1.3 3471 feet

Trail on left leads 0.25 mile to Balsam Lake Mountain Lean-To.  Continue to follow red discs.  Soon pass a spring on the right.

1.5 3660 feet

Reach junction of yellow disc Mill Brook Ridge Trail.  Follow red discs to tower.  The Finger Lakes Trail goes left along Mill Brook Ridge Trail.  This is the highest point along the Finger Lakes Trail.

1.7 3725 feet

Reach Fire Tower at the summit of Balsam Lake Mountain.  There is a picnic table and privy near the tower.  There are great views from the tower.

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