Best Hikes Ever: Balsam Cap and Friday Mountain, NY

Brave thick forest to reach rugged twin summits.
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Brave thick forest to reach rugged twin summits.

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Not far from the human highway called the Burroughs Range Trail, in the Catskills, lies a massive, trackless wilderness with several 3,000-plus-foot peaks, almost no company—and zero coverage in this magazine. Neither 3,623-foot Balsam Cap to the south nor 3,694-foot Friday Mountain to the north have sweeping vistas, but open the summit register, sign in, and you’ll be among rare, trail-hardened company. It takes a GPS and topnotch nav skills to bushwhack 2,500 feet through undisturbed wilderness. Herd paths connect the two peaks, which are separated by a col. Start hiking in Maltby Hollow, about 30 miles northwest of New Paltz. And pack gaiters; the slopes of this 4.6-miler are covered with witch hopple shrubs and scratchy balsam.

Map USGS quad West Shokan

Contact (845) 256-3026; Catskill-3500-Club.org