Alder Lake Loop – Catskill Park

September 2, 2017 – Hardenburgh, NY

Difficulty: Easy

Length: Approximately 1.7 miles

Max elevation: 2,257 ft.– total elevation gain approximately 93 ft.

Route type: Circuit

Map: Catskill Trails Map #142

Trailhead parking: Alder Lake – Hardenburgh, NY

 

Alder Lake in Hardenburgh, NY is located in the Balsam Lake State Forest Preserve, part of the Catskill Forest Preserve. It is a man-made lake that was established in 1901 by Samuel D. Coykendall. Alder Lake sits at an elevation of 2,211 feet above sea level and covers a total of 45 acres.

Coykendall Lodge was built in 1899 and was a large, rambling  2 1⁄2-story half-timber lodge of balloon frame construction. It rested on a limestone foundation and was representative of the Shingle Style. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. The Lodge was torn down by New York State as it was in such disrepair. Only the stone foundations and stone cobble walls remain.

Coykendall Lodge

Coykendall Lodge

I had read about this place and decided to pay it a visit. Having finished an early morning walk at Olana State Historic Site, I drove nearly 2 hours from Hudson, NY to check it out. An interesting drive to say the least. The road that ascends the mountain where the lake is located, Cross Mountain Road, is not paved, it’s very narrow and quite steep in sections with steep drop offs to the side. Never mind if another vehicle approaches from the opposite direction. Luckily, I only had two such instances and it happened in spots where the road was just wide enough. The lake can be reached from the opposite side via the paved Alder Lake Road, but my trusty GPS, whose signal kept fading in and out, directed me through the more treacherous route. Nevertheless, I made there safely, although somewhat stressed out. This hike was done in a clockwise direction from the parking lot on the left of the map.

Alder Lake Loop

Alder Lake Loop

Upon arriving at the parking area, which has room for approximately 15 cars, I was looking forward to stretching my legs. A short and easy hike is just what I needed. The hike starts at the trail register, just off the main parking area.

Alder Lake trailhead

Alder Lake trailhead

Like most of the trails in the Catskills, the hiker is provided with distance markers.

DSC01863_HDR_marked

distance marker

Almost immediately after passing the kiosk, the ruins of Coykendall Lodge come into view.

Coykendall Lodge

Coykendall Lodge

It’s a shame that they tore this structure down instead of repurposing it.

Coykendall Lodge

Coykendall Lodge

Coykendall Lodge

Coykendall Lodge

It must have been nice and cozy sitting by the fireplace way back when.

Coykendall Lodge

Coykendall Lodge

The first glimpse of Alder Lake did not disappoint, it is quite scenic and provides the tranquility that those that come here seek.

Alder Lake

Alder Lake

After taking in a good dose of tranquility, after all you never want too much of it, I wandered down a worn footpath on the left side of the lake.

footpath

footpath

On the Catskills Trails map, it indicates that this trail is blazed red. I did not see any red blazes until I got to the other side of the lake. I also did not receive the map until after I did this hike. The trail is easy enough to follow……for the most part. It is a bit overgrown at the beginning, but it does get better.

Alder Lake Loop Trail

Alder Lake Loop Trail

The trail widens and makes for a better hike without having to rub up against the foliage.

DSC01893_HDR_marked

Alder Lake Loop Trail

There are short spur trails that lead to 8 separate designated campsites.

spur trail to campsite

spur trail to campsite

The campsites are marked with yellow NYSDEC blazes.

yellow NYSDEC blaze

yellow NYSDEC blaze

There are views of the lake from the trail which makes it that much more enjoyable.

Alder Lake

Alder Lake

Several of the campsites were occupied on this Labor Day weekend when I visited.

designated campsite

designated campsite

At approximately the 1/2 mile mark, we crossed a wooden footbridge.

DSC01899_HDR_marked

wooden footbridge

Then a short distance later, we crossed another wooden footbridge. This one has a red blaze on it, but I did not notice it until later when I was reviewing the images for this post.

second wooden footbridge

second wooden footbridge

Now on the eastern end of the lake, there is a short path that leads to a viewpoint.

Alder Lake - eastern end

Alder Lake – eastern end

The trail joins an old woods road, where another designated campsite is located toward the left. The trail passes a piped spring at 0.6 miles and reaches the junction of the yellow-blazed Mill Brook Ridge Trail which goes up to the left at 0.7 miles.

stay right at fork

stay right at fork

The trail then crosses Alder Creek on a larger wooden footbridge.

DSC01912_HDR_marked

larger wooden footbridge

The creek, which feeds the lake, was barely flowing on this day, but by the looks of the bridge, it must be a sight in wet season.

Alder Creek

Alder Creek

Now here is where I got off the official trail. Since I did not notice any red blazes along the way, I just assumed that Alder Lake Loop was unmarked. After crossing the bridge, I saw red blazes that veer away from the lake and climb the hill. I instead followed a footpath that hugs the lake. On the upside, I enjoyed a closeup view of the lake.

footpath along Alder Lake

footpath along Alder Lake

The downside was that this trail is severely overgrown in some sections. The pricker bushes made all the tranquility I was feeling just fade away, one thorn at a time. At times I kept thinking that the trail would just peter out, but a trace would appear and I kept on moving.

DSC01924_HDR_1_marked

footpath along Alder Lake

The footpath then widens, passes through a campsite that was occupied and leads to a northeast facing view of Alder Lake.

northeast facing view of Alder Lake

northeast facing view of Alder Lake

The trail then comes out by the dam at western end of the lake, near where the hike began.

the dam at western end of the lake

the dam at western end of the lake

I walked over the dam, still enjoying views of Alder Lake. I could feel that tranquility slowly creeping back as I made my back towards the ruins of Coykendall Lodge.

Alder Lake dam

Alder Lake dam

I took one last look at Alder Lake……

Alder Lake

Alder Lake

and Coykendall Lodge.

Coykendall Lodge ruins

Coykendall Lodge ruins

I then made my way back to the parking area along this curved stone wall.

DSC01973_HDR_1_marked

curved stone wall

This was a nice easy hike, although I wish that I had stayed on the designated trail. I will surely return if I am ever in the area again. An idyllic lake front setting that didn’t disappoint. On the way out, my GPS had no signal, which happens every time I visit the Catskills. I wasn’t going to drive back the way I came, on Cross Mountain Road, so I turned left on Alder Lake Road to Beaverkill Road and then NYS Route 17 back to Westchester County. I found my way long before my GPS signal returned. I hope that you enjoyed the hike and please don’t forget to follow my blog. As always, your comments are welcome, whether good or bad. Now get out there and take a hike!

Pros: Tranquility galore, scenic Alder Lake, Coykendall Lodge ruins, secluded area.

Cons: Not well blazed, avoid Cross Mountain Road.

Coykendall Lodge ruins

Coykendall Lodge ruins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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