Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest contains more than 13,500 acres of “forever wild” Forest Preserve located at the head of the Beaverkill Valley, an area famous as the cradle of fly fishing in America. Alder Lake is one of the few Catskill lakes with excellent trout fishing and has been referred to as “the manifestation of something better than the common things of every-day life – it is a sanctum for the spiritual renaissance of mind and the rejuvenation of the body.” With an extensive trail network to several ponds, this area is ideal for hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, backpacking, canoeing, cross-country skiing and even has one of the five fire towers in the Catskills.
The terrain is a combination of high mountain ridges, steep sided valleys, numerous brooks and ponds, with elevations ranging from a low of 1,740 feet along Mill Brook to a high of 3,723 feet at the summit of Balsam Lake Mountain.
(See each specific hike for directions to the trailhead parking.)
The Basha Kill D&H Canal (Towpath) is a flat, even multi-use trail that is relatively easy to complete. It ranges from Easy to Moderate (because of the distance). You can access the trail at different locations so you do not have to complete the entire trail all at once. It runs from one gate to another on the towpath.According to our Google Map to the right, the trail is shown as the Blue Line.
Formerly the Delaware and Hudson Canal, which carried coal from northeast PA to New York City in the 19th century, the D&H is now a National Historic Landmark. To learn more about the D&H Canal, visit the Delaware and Hudson Transportation Heritage Council website.
Find the trail within the NYS Basha Kill Wildlife Management Area. To learn more about the Basha Kill, visit the Basha Kill Area Association website. Also, the Basha Kill Area Association has published a Map of the Basha Kill Area. For the NY-NJ Trail Conference Map of the SRT trail (which shows the D & H Canal), click here.
The Basha Kill O & W railbed is part of the Shawangunk Ridge Trail (SRT). For the NY-NJ Trail Conference Map of the SRT trail, click here.
To continue on the Shawangunk Ridge Trail (SRT) and to learn more about the Shawangunk Ridge Trail/Long Path see the “Long Path (SRT)” hikes. This portion of the trail becomes increasingly more difficult. The O & W trail ranges from Easy to Moderate (depending how long you hike the trail for) There are a number of different locations where you can start and stop hiking the trail. For our Google Map purposes, the Trail is the red line.
The trails at Circle Park are great introductory trails for young children, as well those looking for a nice easy stroll in the forest. The trail has three ends, one near the parking area for the Lumberland Senior Citizen Center at the back of the Municipal Building, one at the bottom of the Circle Park playground, and one at the north end of the playground’s parking area. The trails are easy to navigate, and full of fun surprises to keep the interest of young ones.
DELAWARE RIVER REGION TRAIL
Trailhead GPS: Coordinates N41.55863 W75.07761
Getting There: Cross the Delaware River into Pennsylvania at Narrowsburg, NY and drive west for 4 miles on SR 652. Turn left or south on Perkins Pond Road. Stay on Perkins Pond Road for 4 miles until it ends at Welcome Lake Road. The name of the road changes to Case Road as you enter the Township of Lackawaxen. Turn right on Welcome Lake Road and drove .9 miles to Masthope Road. Turn left and watch for the access road for Cobey Pond about 1 mile down the road on the left. Turn into the road and cross Masthope Creek on a small bridge. DO NOT park in the first lot but continue on the gravel road to the left. In about half a mile you will come to an upper parking area and turnaround just before a locked gate. This is the best place to park although it is not obvious as there is no signage anywhere
Difficulty: This hike is rated EASY since it is only 2.2 miles long. The trail follows a road and then a woods road around the lake and is nearly flat. The total elevation gain is only 245 feet.
Trail Surface: The trail surface from the parking area to the pond is covered in large crushed stone which makes walking uncomfortable. Starting at the pond the trail is grass and dirt. There may be wet and muddy areas along the way.
Hike Description: None of the trails are marked with any blazes and there is not a single sign to follow! There are other trails than those described here which are also unmarked. Walk up the hill from the parking area toward the gate. The road is “paved” with large crushed stone which make walking difficult. You may try to stay the sides of the road. At .15 miles the road splits with the paved section heading right and a grassy section heading uphill to the left. Turn right to follow the gravel road which descends just slightly and then climbs a little to the shores of the pond. There is a dock jutting out into the water and a nice wooden bridge over the spillway. The trail continues in both directions around the pound. Turn right as it is the longer hike. After crossing the spillway and reaching the other side of the pond turn left to follow a grassy road that is completely flat around the pond. Stop at the head end of the pond as there are several small “islands” at the upper end. A little farther along the trail splits at about 1.5 miles. The trail to the left circles the shore of the pond but the trail to the right lengthens a very short hike. Turn right and follow the grassy road as it gains a little elevation heading southwest and then south. Continue along the trail completing the loop at 2 miles. Turn right to walk down the road and through the gate to your car.
Loop from Parking Area – 1.8 mi
Trailhead GPS: Coordinates N41.8700 W75.0195
Getting There: Exit State Route 17 at Exit 94W and turn left on Route 206. Turn left at the traffic light on Stewart Avenue. Exit State Route 17 at Exit 94E and turn right on Stewart Ave. Drive to the T intersection at the end of the road. Turn right on CR 92 and drive up the hill. Continue for 8.7 miles until Tennanh Lake Road appears on the right. Along the way the road changes to CR 93. Turn right on Tennanah Lake Road and drive 1.1 miles to the Crystal Lake Wild Forest access road on the left. Turn left, drive up the road and park in the small lot. If the road is not passable and you choose to park on the shoulder of Tennanah Lake Road, be sure to pull over as far as you can.
Difficulty: This hike is rated MODERATE even though it is less than two miles because the trails are not well marked and are more like well-traveled paths. They are very rough in spots and there are many roots across the trails.
Trail Surface: The surface of the paths around the lake vary from grassy and easy to negotiate to pine =needles and dirt with numerous tree roots. The trail can be wet and muddy in spots.
Hike Description: Walk toward the lake on the access road until you approach the dam at the southern end of the lake. Cross over the dam and watch for some blazes that will guide you round the lake. The trail stays pretty close to the shore of the lake but may be hard to find. Continue looping around the lake until you are back at the dam. Walk back to your car.
SHAWANGUNK REGION TRAIL
Sullivan County Parks and Recreation provides the following map for accessing and using this linear trail: D&H Canal Linear Park Map.
For more information on the Canal, check out the D&H Transportation Heritage Council website. For more information on the site, check out the Sullivan County Website.
This linear park consists of 45 acres and approximately 3½ miles of trail situated along the historic D&H Canal. Remains of the original locks, drydock & waste weirs are visible from the towpath trail. Interpretive signs are located in the park to assist the visitor to identify the various canal structures. The trail is intended to accommodate a variety of users, including hikers, walkers, nature enthusiasts, bicyclists, joggers, cross country skiers and snowshoeing (motorized vehicles and horses are prohibited). The canal itself offers fine fishing (NYS Fishing License Required) and canoeing.
Two accesses are open at this time, both are located off Route 209. Hornbeck’s basin access is located ½ mile north of Wurtsboro; the Bova Road access is located 4½ miles north of Wurtsboro between the Hamlets of Summitville and Phillipsport. The trail is ideal for hikers, bikers, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, nature watching and fishing. Picnic tables and grills along with porta-johns are available at both accesses.
There is no admission fee, the park is open year round. Hours are from 8:00am ’till dark. Due to the linear nature of this park users are asked to respect the rights of adjacent landowners. Phone (845) 807-0287.
DELAWARE RIVER REGION TRAIL
Upper Delaware Take a Hike! Trail
Trailhead GPS: Coordinates N41.63574 W75.06233
Getting There: Cross the Delaware River from New York into Pennsylvania on the bridge at Cochecton. Almost immediately turn left on River Road. Follow River Road south along the river for a total of 6 miles. At 2.7 miles be sure to bear to the left to stay on River Road. Turn right on Macubbins Road and drive .7 miles to the parking area on the right.
Difficulty: This hike is rated EASY since it is only 1.1 miles long. The trail is reasonably well-worn but not always well-maintained. It is marked with yellow paint blazes.The total elevation gain is only 130 feet.
Trail Surface: The trail surface may have a few large stones and some tree branches on the trail. Most of the trail is grass or dirt with a generous helping of soft pine needles.
Hike Description: Walk through the opening in the rail fence next to the information kiosk. There aren’t any visible markers but hug the edge of the field staying near the woods and you will pick up yellow paint blazes. The trail heads north through an evergreen forest gaining a little elevation. There can be a lot of debris and some blowdowns on the trail. You will quickly reach a power line right-of-way. The trail turns off the right-of-way and heads north through some more evergreen forest. Look to the left down the hill and you will see a trail which is for the return trip. At about half a mile into the hike there is a stone wall where the trail turns left and descends to the lower trail. The trail now runs along a wetland and heads southwest through some mixed softwood and hard wood forest until at .75 miles it turns south. The trail now follows a woods road which is open and easy to follow. Soon you will see the parking area up a hill on the left. There aren’t many blazes to guide you so walk out to the road, turn left and then almost immediately left again into the parking area.
The 27,800-acre Delaware Wild Forest is located in the western Catskill Forest Preserve. The area has several disconnected parcels and is located mostly in Delaware County. The popular Finger Lakes Trail travels through this wild forest, which features more than 35 miles of hiking trails and more than 20 miles of snowmobile trails. These trails are not as used as much as other trails in the Catskills and you may find yourself alone most of the time you are hiking. There are four lean-to shelters located in the wild forest for those looking for a backpacking camping experience.
The activities in this area include hiking, camping, fishing, boating, wildlife observation, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and cross country skiing, hunting and trapping and paddling.
The most popular destinations in the Delaware Wild Forest include Big Pond, Beaverkill Vista on Cabot Mountain, Trout Pond, Russell Brook Falls, Split Rock Lookout and Huggins Lake.
(See each specfic hike for the directions to the trailhead.)
Trailhead GPS: Coordinates N41.8859 W74.5330
Getting There: Drive to the Sullivan County hamlet of Grahamsville and turn north from Route 55 on Moore Hill Road near the TriValley Central School. Drive 3.2 miles passing Denman Mountain Road on the left. Park in the parking area at the corner of Moore Hill Road and Glade Hill Road.
Difficulty: This hike is rated STRENUOUS because it is over 6 miles long. The trail is very rough in spots and can be wet and muddy. There are several small ascents. There may be wet or muddy areas on the trail. The snowmobile trail markers can sometimes be hard to follow.
Trail Surface: The trail is primarily a snowmobile trail and consists of stones and dirt with a grassy areas and quite a few tree roots. The trail is often wet and muddy in many areas. The return trip is on Moore Hill Road which is mostly packed dirt and gravel.
Hike Description: To start the hike walk across the road and onto the snowmobile trail which begins a slight ascent up a shoulder of Denman Mountain but soon levels of. Watch for the larger red snowmobile trail markers as you hike. The trail descends to a trail junction at about .5 miles. A left turn at this junction leads back out to Moore Hill Road and the road that cuts over to Denman Mountain Road. Turn right to stay on the trail around the mountain. At .85 miles there will be a path or woods road on the left that leads down to some interesting stone foundations. The road is lined with stone walls on either side. The snowmobile trail continues to descend for the next mile but is always lower than the mountain on the right. Since the trail is lower, the water draining from the higher terrain makes the trail very wet in places depending on the season. At about 1.95 miles there is the ruins of a house or cabin on the right side of the trail. You have been heading mostly north but the road for your return is to the east. At 2.15 miles there is another trail junction. Turn right and then bear to the left. For the next 1.2 miles the trail wanders back and forth and up and down but always around the mountain. Finally, at about 3.3 miles the trail turns in an easterly direction and heads directly for the road. For the next 1.5 miles the trail undulates up and down but always heads east. At 4.8 miles, the trail intersects the road. Turn right to head south and back to the parking area. There are some interesting cliffs and one large boulder right next to the road. The road continues heading south and mostly descends with a few ups and downs until you are back at the parking area.
SHAWANGUNK REGION TRAIL
The Fallsburg O&W Rail Trail includes segments from Mountaindale to Woodridge and from Woodridge to the Neversink River. The trail is well-maintained and on level terrain with flowerbeds, a variety of views, and wetlands with excellent areas for bird-watching. Highlights include a Visitor’s Center in Mountaindale with a display of historical railway photographs, artifacts, a new scale train sculpture, rest areas and stretching equipment. Be on the lookout for occasional wet spots and illegal ATVs.
NOTE: Soon to come…Detailed Google Trail Map
Also Visit SullivanStriders.org and the Rails To Trails Brochure for the trail map and more information about the history of the trail and yearly events. Look for the annual Rail Trail Race hosted by the Sullivan Striders.
DIRECTIONS: In South Fallsburg, park by a small playground at Railroad Plaza and Griff Court. The trailhead is up Railroad Plaza behind an enclosed basketball court on the left (along Water St.). In Hurleyville, park near the post office along CR 104.
DIRECTIONS: For the Woodridge-Mountaindale segment, park at the intersection of Green Avenue and Greenfield Road in Woodridge. In Mountaindale, park by the old Mountaindale Train Station, now a visitor center with restrooms, and head past the parking lot and you’ll come to a sign board for the Mountaindale O&W Linear Park. Source: http://www.traillink.com/trail/o–w-rail-trail-.aspx