catskills

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Balsam Mountain as hiked on May 14, 2014 along with Evan Dahm as part of trail maintenance on the Oliverea-Mapledale Trail via volunteering with the NY-NJ Trail Conference. (I currently maintain the Olivera-Mapledale trail from McKenley Hollow Rd. to the junction with the Pine Hill-West Branch trail.)

For this hike, we started in the McKenley Hollow Rd. parking lot and went up the Oliverea-Mapledale Trail to the Pine Hill-West Branch Trail up to the summit of Balsam Mountain. We ended up clearing several sections of blow-downs along the way, hopefully leaving the trail a little more welcoming for the next group to come along. It was foggy that day, so unfortunately no summit views. Although as an added bonus of the fog, the moss was extra green and magical. 

This route to the summit of Balsam Mountain is particularly steep. The Oliverea-Mapledale trail is rocky and unrelentingly up up up for a good section. I find hiking it in the fall to be a little tricky on the descent because of the slippery leaves. In the summer, there’s nettles around. That being said, it’s still a lovely hike to do. The trail follows the creek going up and crosses over a few times. There’s a little shelter pretty close to the trailhead were you to decide to make an overnight out of it. There’s also a dog that I think belongs to a neighbor near the start of the trail that likes to bark and follow you along.

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Views: ?? I still haven’t managed to get to the summit on a nice day. It looks like there should be a nice view, though.

Difficulty: Strenuous

Time: 4.5-5 hrs, more or less.

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Aug. 7, 1969: A dancing lesson at the Italian-owned Villaggio Italia in the Catskills, one of many such ethnically inclined vacation spots mentioned in a Times roundup. “Although the Catskills are usually known for their Jewish flavor, nearly 500 hotels and boarding houses lure a host of other ethnic groups — Italian, Irish, Negro, Puerto Rican, French, Swedish, Greek, Hungarian, Polish, Ukrainian,” the article explained, and went on describe the melting pot of upstate leisure offerings. Photo: Barton Silverman/The New York Times