3500 Series: Graham and Balsam Lake Mountains

The North Face
The North Face
2101 Broadway
to 7:30PM
7:00AM to 7:30PM
Arrive by 6:45AM
10.4 miles
2,291 feet
elevation gain

This trip is currently unavailable.
About the trip

A climb of two Catskills peaks

What We Love

  • Two Catskills 3500 peaks
  • Pygmy hardwood forests
  • Climb a historic fire tower for clear views
  • Fascinating regional history from your guide

Your Day

Get ready to take on two of the Catskills' highest peaks. Today's hike will first bring us on a moderate uphill climb to Graham Mountain. At 3,868 feet, this peak is unique to the region for its pygmy hardwood forest. The summit of Graham looks strikingly different from other Catskills peaks and is home to an abandoned relay station, once used to transmit television to the region. From the top of Graham, we'll be able to see our next peak: Balsam Lake Mountain. Our journey will continue up to the top of Balsam Lake, where we'll be able to climb to the top of the famous fire tower. Once used by the parks service to spot forest fires, this tower is one of five in the region that's now used by hikers and provides amazing 360 degree views of the entire park. If you're brave enough to climb to the top, you won't be disappointed. You'll be headed home feeling accomplished with two more 3500ers to add to the list!

Perfect for:  Experienced hikers and fit adventurers seeking a full day

Share Trip
Level 7/10
2,291 feet elevation gain
10.4 miles
The North Face2101 Broadway
7:00AM to 7:30PMArrive by 6:45AM

Here’s what you need


Essential Gear
  • Lunch
  • Ample snacks
  • At least three liters of water
  • Backpack. Need a recommendation? Check out Deuter!
  • Weather-appropriate clothing. For a great selection and discounts, visit our partners
  • Sunscreen
Recommended Gear
  • Hiking poles
  • Gaiters


Essential Clothing
  • Comfortable athletic clothing
  • Hiking boots with non-cotton socks (required)
  • Hat
  • Jacket
  • Dress in layers to adapt to changing temperatures

What's Included

  • Expert guides
  • Transportation
  • Park permits
Not Included
  • Meals
  • Gratuity for your guide

Drive to Meet

Have your own transportation? Select the "Drive to meet" option at check out. You'll meet your guide at the Plattekill Travel Plaza at 8:15 AM. From there you'll follow the van about an hour to the trailhead.

Intensity Level

Level 7

Vigorous - For Experienced Hikers Only

On Level 7 trips you’ll encounter some of the steepest elevations and technical terrain available within a day’s drive. These trips are for athletic types and those who wish to push their physical abilities.


You can expect to be active for six to eight hours. You can best prepare for a Level 7 trip by maintaining your intense fitness regimen, trying to get your mile time below eight minutes, and hiking consistently on the weekends.


Level 7 hikes can be anywhere from ten to thirteen miles.


We will be on mountainous, exposed terrain and steep, uneven trails. Most hikes will require not only hiking boots but also additional gear like hiking poles and headlamps.

Elevation Change

Up to 2,500 feet per day.


Up to 12,000 feet.


Weather conditions can be quite different from the city in the mountainous regions we visit. Temperatures can be quite cooler as we head north or to higher elevations. Keep your eyes out for an email from our team a few days in advance of your trip. That email will provide updated weather conditions and will alert you to anything additional you should put in your pack to prepare. We head outside in any weather, as long as we know it's safe, and we don't let a little rain or wind ruin a chance for an adventure. You can contact us at [email protected] if you have any questions about preparing for trail conditions.

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