Saturday, Oct 20, 2018
*Many factors can affect the pace of a group. The estimated completion time allows for a comfortable pace, and adequate breaks. While we should not exceed this estimate, we ask that you allow for some flexibility with your schedule.
The fire tower a top Balsam Lake Mountain has the highest 360° view in the western portion of the Catskill Forest Preserve. With cool, clear skies, we can enjoy views from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania, looking east to west, and from the Helderberg Escarpment to New Jersey, looking north to south.
The trail from Millbrook Rd. follows a gentle grade, along an old carriage road that once connected the Beaverkill Valley to the Dry Brook Valley. A route that early settlers used to trade resources from on side of the mountain to another. The area around the mountain also has significant Native American history, with both the Algonquin, and Iroquois peoples having important ties to these lands, throughout several periods of history.
The valley to the south of the mountain, is to this day, one of the wildest places in the Catskills. In fact early European settlers feared this wild forest, and the soil did not see the feet of the first European until Lewis & Clark discovered the Pacific. This is amazing! Especially, when you consider that the Hudson Valley (back then a days travel away) was well settled in the 1640’s.
For those looking to discover the Catskills, the 5 fire towers offer the best introductory experience. The Balsam Lake Mountain tower provides not only views that stretch beyond the Catskills, but one of the most unique vantage points of the famous Catskill high peaks themselves. The tower trails were designed to be traveled by horse, and then later jeep, so they offer a wide path, and gentle grade for hikers. The views afforded by the towers offer unparalleled rewards for your efforts, as well, and the guidance of a knowledgeable local guide will give you insight into the character of these fabled mountains and valleys.
What to bring:
Will Soter is a NYSDEC Licensed Guide, specializing in hiking, and paddling in the Catskills. He serves on the boards of the Catskill Mountain Club, and the NY State Outdoor Guides Association, and works to increase awareness, and safe access to outdoor recreation in the region. Will also uses his training as a Leave No Trace Master Educator to guide visitors to understanding their role in sustainable, and responsible recreation. Additionally, Will holds certifications in Wilderness First Aid, CPR, and he is a Water Safety Instructor. Will is also the former Director of the Catskill Conservation Corps, a role in which he assisted the DEC in the training, and management of volunteers, across the forest preserve. Will is excited to share his passion and knowledge with those he shares time with along the trail.