Graham Mountain & Balsam Lake

This is the standard Graham / Balsam Lake hike twofer with a twist, as it includes the southern ridge of Balsam Lake which is steep and rugged, and adds a little “Real Catskills“ to this long day hike.

Hike Length: 11.5 miles (18.51 km)

Total Ascent: 2,200ft (671m)

Intensity: Difficult Catskills Hike

Route Type: Out-and-Back

Includes: Blazed Trail

Parent Graham

Similar Entries In: Catskills, The Moderate Hikes, , , , , , , , , .

fire tower view across conifer forest

View from Balsam Lake fire tower

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 Combine a loop and a spur to make this long out-and-back route.

Hiking Trail Description

Graham Mountian is currently closed to public hiking.

The most popular route to Balsam Lake begins at the Dry Brook Ridge Trailhead on Mill Brook Road in Hardenburgh. This route is also the only “trailed” route to Graham’s summit — hiking Graham is technically a bushwhack but the herd path is so clear it almost counts as a trail.

My advice is to do Graham first and get it out of the way. It’s weird and not too scenic. And then you’ll have the big pay-off of climbing to Balsam Lake’s absolutely fantastic 360° fire tower view.

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The long parking lot is on the north side Mill Brook Road and the trail you want is the southern section of the Dry Brook Ridge trail. Leave the lot, cross the road, and look for the trailhead sign on the opposite side.

Hike Graham & Balsam Lake

Begin following the blue blazes

trail signs
Trail signs just off Mill Brook Road

The trail register is a good distance from the road. No, you didn’t miss it. Just keep going. You’ll get to it eventually.

trail register box
Trail Register

The trail is easy to moderate the whole way to the first junction. It follows an old jeep road so it’s mostly pretty wide and relatively even.

grassy hiking trail in forest
Easy trail to Balsam Lake and Graham

Graham Mountain Herd Path

After about 2 miles, keep an eye on the left side of the trail. There’s no sign for the herd path whichdoubles back sharply into dense woods — it’s easy to miss.

 Closed! Graham & Doubletop mountains are no longer accessible to the public. Both mountains are on private land. Trespassers will be prosecuted. The information presented here is for historical puproses only.

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Similar Hikes

Hiking Balsam Lake is a popular single-peak hike because it’s short, easy, kid-friendly, and super scenic.

If you’d like something in the same area that’s less strenuous — but still extremely beautiful — check out the Kelly Hollow Trail which is just 4 miles further west along Mill Brook Road.

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The parent mountain for this hike is Graham.

If you do this hike, LMK how it went…

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Trailhead Info for this Hike

Large lot on a bend. It sneaks up on ya.

Google Maps Location: 42.070045, -74.574090

The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead