Friday mountain gives a lot of people a lot of trouble. The hike up its eastern ridge is tiring. The terrain is tricky. There are lots of places to get turned around. The summit woods are extremely thick — and the canister is nowhere near the summit.
For a first visit, the two best options are either to go with someone who can show you the landmarks, or to join one of the wonderful Catskill 3500 Club Group Hikes.
There are two main approaches to climbing Friday (and/or Balsam Cap).
- Straight Up the Ridge Line: short and very steep, over rough footing; quite a tough climb IMO.
- The Woods Roads Route: essentially, a massive switchback that walks you around the first very tough mile of the more direct route, while keeping you away from private property; it’s also far more interesting.
Either way, you begin at the Moonhaw Road parking area. With your back to the stream, look for the start of the herd path. It’s just to the left of a DEC sign on a tree. A dirt groove connects right away with a steep woods road that brings you uphill to the right. On the way, you’ll have to climb over some large blowdowns.
After a minute or two, you can decide which route to take…
- Balsam Cap in The Clouds uses the Straight Up Route
- Hike Friday, Balsam Cap & B25 from Moonhaw uses the Woods Roads Route
Converge & Climb
Eventually, both routes converge on a flat area in the middle of the ridge-line at around 2300’. This is a good spot for a rest break. It’s the only level part of the entire hike.
Next, your objective is to keep to the center of the ridge-line and make your way to the C-Shaped Tree. The main herd path passes right by it — but there are several faint trails in the area, so stay close to the center of the ridge.
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Not long after this, by tracking south west, you will connect with the Rim Trail and make your way up to The Mailbox, the Whale Rocks, and the Pregnant Tree.
When you get to the Pregnant Tree, choose which mountain to do first: Friday or Balsam Cap. Most people start by tackling Friday because it’s by far the tougher of the two.
Ascend, following the herd path, which tracks up and to the right. You will come face-to-face with a large rock wall. In fact, this is only the lower section of an enormous vertical ledge that extends hundreds of feet to your right (In winter, spectacular icicles hang from the length of wall.) Keep going up. This is The Ramp. It is the only sane way up to Friday’s summit.
Directly above The Ramp, the herd path hits a T-junction. The easiest route to the summit is to your right. First, however, there is a very short detour to your left through the woods to a ledge with an excellent scenic view of Balsam Cap, Ashokan High Point and the Ashokan Reservoir. If you’re lucky the herd path will be clear, or there will be tracks in the snow you can follow.
Make your way back to the T-junction and keep going straight. Remember that this is a bushwhack and there is no correct way to make your way to the summit. But the herd path is pretty clear. Even when it splits, it’s heading to the same place. Follow the Rule of Up.
If you come to a large rock ledge at 3500’, make your way around it to the left; you have roughly 200’ of pretty steep vertical ascent to go. The soil is loose in spots. You will probably have to climb under some blowdown.
The actual summit of Friday is deep in the dense woods. (There is no view. I checked.) The woods are so thick that the Catskill 3500 Club has placed their canister several hundred feet from the summit, on the very eastern side of the knob. The herd path to it is pretty clear. There is a small view of the Devil’s Path range.
Somewhere in those woods, reportedly, is a non-terrible route over to Balsam Cap. For now, sadly, it’s the stuff of legends and lore — I’m not aware of anyone who’s found the “easy” route.
After signing the canister and enjoying the view, had back down the steep upper knob, back to the T-Junction, down The Ramp, and back out to The Pregnant Tree.
All things being equal, you will likely take a different route down than you took up; it’s all in a day’s bushwhack.
Height: 3,500ft (1,067m)
Location: Southern Catskills
Trail Type: Bushwhack
Summit Forecast: Friday
The page URL below shows the weather at Friday’s summit for the next six days.
Opens in a new tab/window. Click on the small °F or °C boxes to toggle between US and Metric.
If a foreacast for a peak is not directly available, this page may display a link to a nearby peak.