Big Indian, New York

Hike to Balsam Mountain in the Catskills

5.4 Miles Total - 2910 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

Originally added by Aellon Krider

Night hike to camp and trek to Balsam Mountain the next day. Bring a picnic and take in the view from 3500 feet.

Timeline: Weekend, though can easily be done as an overnight trip or just a day hike


Day 1: Hike to camp (0.7 miles, 340' elevation gain)

Day 2: Hike to Balsam Mountain and back to camp (4 miles round-trip)

Day 3: Relax & hike back to car (0.7 miles)

Details: Park the car at McKinley Hollow parking lot (42.070413°N, 74.474029°W). The lot and trailhead will be on your left. Grab your pack and brighten your headlamp, then head a little further down McKinley Hollow Road. A bridge starts the Oliverea - Mapledale red trail. Depending on the time of year, you may want to filter water here if you need any for the night. Water was scarce near camp in October.

Hike 0.7 miles to the McKinley Hollow lean-to. You can't miss it left of the trail. It's possible you'll need to share the shelter with other campers. Don't forget to hang your food in a bear bag, then gather some wood and warm up by the fire.

In the morning, refuel and get back on the red trail. You will quickly begin gaining elevation with stone steps and switchbacks. After 1.2 miles there will be a junction. If you need water continue on the red trail and you will come across a spring on the left. If you do not need water then turn right at the junction, to hop on the Pine Hill - West Branch blue trail heading northeast. Hike 0.8 more miles on the blue trail to reach Balsam Mountain (3600'). There is a scenic viewpoint on the right side a little past the summit. Enjoy a snack as you identify the peaks of Slide Mountain Wilderness.

Return the way you came by taking the blue trail southwest to the junction, and go left on the red trail back to the lean-to. Spend another night in the lean-to and hike out the next day.

Read More





Have you done this adventure? Be the first to leave a review!

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

Stay Nearby

Big Indian, New York

Upper Esopus Creekside Camp

From $130/night

Big Indian, New York


From $100/night

Big Indian, New York

Big Indian Wilderness Paradise

From $125/night

Big Indian, New York

Triple Creek

From $40/night

Nearby Adventures