Catskills Bushwhack: Fir, Big Indian, Eagle, Balsam

This event is for advanced hikers only. Moderate pace on challenging terrain.

THIS HIKE REQUIRES A SHUTTLE. ALL HIKERS MUST MEET AT PARKING AREA AT MCKINLEY HOLLOW RD. BEFORE WE SHUTTLE TO TRAILHEAD ON COUNTY RD 47.


This is a tough hike with a lot of elevation gain! This hike has little in the way of views and significant time off trail. Come prepared for winter conditions.

Map and compass and/or GPS are required for this hike. Bushwhacks are hikes that leave maintained trails and head into the backcountry. The knowledge of how to use a map and compass are a prerequisite for this hike. If you get separated from the group, you need to know where you are and how to get yourself out of the woods.


The Hike: For peakbaggers looking for these four mountains. We'll begin at trailhead on Rt. 47 and take blue blazed Pine Hill-West Branch trail for 2.1 miles past a shelter. After a stream crossing we will BUSHWHACK northeast to the summit of Fir Mt. and sign the canister. We leave in a westerly direction to the summit of Big Indian and hit our second canister of the day. We find the heard path off Big Indian for a quick .25 miles back to the blue blazed Pine Hill-West Branch Trail. Take this north for 2.35 to Eagle Mt. (look for a short heard path to the left leading to the true summit which has a cairn). Continue of PH-WB trail for 2.1 miles to junction with Oliveria-Mapledale Trail. For those wanting to climb Balsam Mt. it is 1.6 miles round trip from this point. We now descend the Oliveria-Mapledale trail southwest for 1.9 miles to the parking area.

Mileage: Approx. 14 miles (12.5 w/o Balsam)

Elevation: approx. 4000 feet elevation gain (600' less w/o Balsam)

Expect 7-9 hours hiking

Gear List: Traction Aids (microspikes, crampons or snowshoes may be needed-TBD), Trail Map - Catskill #142, Hiking poles (recommended), Sturdy footwear, Wicking clothing - absolutely no cotton, Headlamp + spare batteries, Food & water

Disclaimer: I am not a professional guide and you are at all times responsible for your own safety. Partaking in any outdoor activity has inherent risks and you should be aware that injuries have happened in the past. Only you are responsible for your own safety. The organizers, event host, and Other members of the meetup will not be held liable for your actions. Signing up for this meetup Indicates that you have read and understand the above conditions.

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  • Michael S

    Great strenuous and rewarding hike! Great job, Chris! Can't wait for the next one!

    January 26, 2014

    • M. W.

      Nice pics of the event Mike

      January 26, 2014

    • kevin

      Cool pics, both of you-thanks for taking and posting

      January 27, 2014

  • kevin

    Fun day earning those peaks!~

    January 27, 2014

  • Raj

    Tough time during hiking but at the end i bagged 4 peaks..Chris you were awesome in finding in canisters... Thank you all for great company and good time at Brios

    January 26, 2014

  • M. W.

    Great to get out there and hike with you folks in some tough conditions. Kudos to the trail breakers....conditions allowed me to see how clothing and body handled the low temps and wind chills ....was a nice challenge and a great workout to go along with another 4 winter peaks/

    1 · January 25, 2014

  • Emmi

    Hey guys, does anyone driving up from NYC have space in their car for one more? I live in Brooklyn, but will come to you! Happy to pitch in for gas/tolls as always!

    January 24, 2014

    • Michael S

      If you can get to the NJ side of the GW Bridge, I can give you a ride from there.

      January 24, 2014

    • Emmi

      Thanks Michael! Something came up so I have to pass for tomorrow. See you next time!

      January 24, 2014

  • alicia

    Catch you on another, Chris.

    January 24, 2014

  • Michael S

    I was wondering if we will need snowshoes for this one? ( A pain bushwhacking on them tho_)

    January 23, 2014

    • Chris D.

      Microspikes should be fine. I'll update tomorrow.

      January 23, 2014

  • alicia

    Sounds like you're describing a friday night with the wall street crowd. (temps = interns, white stuff--you get the point.)

    1 · January 22, 2014

    • M. W.

      Unfortunately nothing so cryptic.....but If it were..... teens are a little young for me lol lol.

      January 22, 2014

  • M. W.

    I hope they get lots of the white stuff and temps are at least in the teens......

    January 21, 2014

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