September 2, 2017 – Hardenburgh, NY
Length: Approximately 1.7 miles
Max elevation: 2,257 ft.– total elevation gain approximately 93 ft.
Route type: Circuit
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.
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.
View the Google Earth Fly-Through video of the hike below.
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.
Like most of the trails in the Catskills, the hiker is provided with distance markers.
Almost immediately after passing the kiosk, the ruins of Coykendall Lodge come into view.
It’s a shame that they tore this structure down instead of repurposing it.
It must have been nice and cozy sitting by the fireplace way back when.
The first glimpse of Alder Lake did not disappoint, it is quite scenic and provides the tranquility that those that come here seek.
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.
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.
The trail widens and makes for a better hike without having to rub up against the foliage.
There are short spur trails that lead to 8 separate designated campsites.
The campsites are marked with yellow NYSDEC blazes.
There are views of the lake from the trail which makes it that much more enjoyable.
Several of the campsites were occupied on this Labor Day weekend when I visited.
At approximately the 1/2 mile mark, we crossed a 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.
Now on the eastern end of the lake, there is a short path that leads to a viewpoint.
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.
The trail then crosses Alder Creek on a 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.
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.
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.
The footpath then widens, passes through a campsite that was occupied and leads to a 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.
I walked over the dam, still enjoying views of Alder Lake. I could feel that tranquility slowly creeping back as I made my way back towards the ruins of Coykendall Lodge.
I took one last look at Alder Lake……
and Coykendall Lodge.
I then made my way back to the parking area along this 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.