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Balsam Lake Mountain 3723'

Balsam Lake Fire Tower

Balsam Lake Mountain
Fire Tower

USGS Map: Seager

NY-NJ Trail Conference Map:  #42/142 & #43/143

Order of Height: 16th at 3723'

Access:  Via Dry Brook Ridge Trail and Balsam Lake Mountain Trail

Description:  Balsam Lake Mountain is in the southwestern quadrant of the Catskills.  A fire tower on the summit affords views of the surrounding mountains. If the interpreter is on duty make sure you stop at the old fire observers cabin. 


View from the Balsam Lake Fire Tower

View from Fire Tower with Observers cabin below

Access is via the Dry Brook Ridge Trail from the north at Mill Brook Road or from the south at Beaver Kill Rd. trailhead. A third and longer approach is from the west from Alder Lake.

The actual summit is on the Balsam Lake Mountain Trail, which is 3/4 mile in from the Dry Brook Ridge Trail either to the west or east.

Balsam Lake Tower History

The first tower was constructed on the summit in 1887 by the Balsam Lake Club and was made of logs cut at the site. The tower was struck by lightning and burned in 1901.

The club erected a second tower in 1905. The first steel tower was built in 1919 and was replaced by the existing tower in 1930 and was manned for forest fire observation until 1973. From 1973 until 1988 the tower was still manned but primarily used for the enjoyment of hikers. The tower was closed in 1988.

After many years of laying dormant and falling into disrepair a local group of volunteers came together and formed the Friends of Balsam Lake Fire Tower and the tower was restored and reopened to the public in 2000.

Today hikers can enjoy the outstanding views of the surrounding Catskills and beyond. On many weekends in the prime hiking season a fire tower interpreter may be on duty and the tower and cabin are open for viewing. Even if the tower is locked, you can still see the view from the top flights of stairs on the tower.

Links for Balsam Lake Mountain New Window

Balsam Lake Mountain Volunteers Home Page

TopoZone (topographic map)

Catskill Fire Tower Restoration Project

Photo credit: Top: Kevin Morgan | Bottom: Scott Larson

 

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