Graham Mountain Catskill Mountains

Graham Mountain Catskills
Average read time 7 min

Graham Mountain is a privately owned peak in the Catskill Mountains. It is the second-highest of the Catskill High Peaks without a maintained trail. The first is its higher neighbor, Doubletop. It was once home to a TV relay station which its abandoned remains still sit on its summit. This is too bad as the summit has a wonderful first growth pygmy hardwood population. Just below the summit, a ledge and talus slope looking toward Balsam Lake Mountain provide wonderful views. Other viewpoints open up when the trees are bare. Please do not climb the abandoned structure as this is privately owned. The route to the summit is on an old unmarked unmaintained woods road.

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Access to Graham and Doubletop N. Peak has been Permanently CLOSED

The property owners of Graham and Double Top have closed the property to all hikers.
Read more here regarding the changes to membership climbs for the Catskill 3500.

Featured photo: Graham from the trail up Balsam Lake (D. Case); Start of herd path up Graham from Dry Brook Ridge Trail; Kiosk at Dry Brook Ridge trailhead on Mill Brook Road; Herd path entering Graham’s summit; View of Balsam Lake Mountain from Graham; View of Dry Brook Valley from Graham; On the summit with abandon TV relay station behind; Chris on Dry Brook Ridge Trail; Sign at Dry Brook Ridge parking area.

Elevation:3869 ft (1179.27 m)
Lat/Lon:42°2’22”N / 74°32’58”W
Seasons:Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Activities:Hiking, Snowshoeing
Nearest higher neighbor:Doubletop  (SE 1.38 mi, 2.22 km)
Line parent:Doubletop (SE 1.38 mi, 2.22 km)
Key-col:2995 ft (913 m) between Graham & Doubletop
Prominence:847 ft (362 m)
Range:Catskill Mountains > SW Catskills
Land Unit:Private ownership
Summit forest:Pygmy Hardwoods mostly first growth
Shortest approach:Dry Brook Ridge Trail from Mill Brook Road in the north or Balsam Lake Mountain Trailhead in the south. Both about the same mileage.
Main trails:Dry Brook Ridge Trail to herd path up Graham
Easiest winter route:Dry Brook Ridge Trail from Mill Brook Road. (less remote parking and more services nearby)
Closest camping:Balsam Lake Mountain Lean-to
Mill Brook Lean-to (off Mill Brook Road)
Maps and Guide:NY-NJTC Catskill Map Set
NY-NJTC Digital Trail Maps
ADK Catskill Trail Guide

The Dirt

The lands on Graham are privately owned. Hiking from the north on the Dry Brook Ridge trail, you’ll be on private land until you reach the Balsam Lake Mountain Trail. The path to Graham starts about 0.10-miles before this junction. This means your hike up Graham from Mill Brook Road is entirely on private property.

The DEC works with numerous organizations to maintain the trails, lean-tos, and campsites. In the Catskills, the maintenance is done by a volunteer force. Hiking the Dry Brook Ridge trail between Mill Brook Road and the junction with the Balsam Lake Mountain trail is provided by an easement and can be hiked without permission. Do not stray from the trail without permission.

The peak is situated near the Big Indian Wilderness. In fact, the SW ridge of Graham does enter the Big Indian Wilderness at about the 3600′ point. The adjacent Balsam Lake Wild Forest is also close by and you’d hike in it if you approach from the south on the Dry Brook Ridge Trail.

Hiking Graham and Doubletop together have become more popular, you’ll need permission from the property caretaker to hike either of these peaks. Do not hike these peaks without permission, it is a courtesy provided by the Gould family, who own Graham and the North summit of Doubletop, and we don’t wish to lose it.

Trail and Path Approaches

Dry Brook Ridge Trail (2.05 miles and 800′ ascent from Dry Brook Ridge Parking (north) to herd path to Graham OR 1.90-miles and 825′ ascent from Balsam Lake Parking Area (south) to herd path to Graham) Dry Brook Ridge Parking | Balsam Lake Parking Area

Both approaches (south vs. north) are about the same difficulty. If you wish to camp, consider starting at the south at the Balsam Lake Parking Area which is closer to the Balsam Lake Mountain Lean-to. If you are planning to hike Graham and Doubletop use the Dry Brook Ridge parking area in the north.

Herd Path to summit from Dry Brook Ridge Trail

The 1.9-mile herd path to the summit is fairly easy to follow. The climb from Dry Brook Ridge trail is about 785′. Depending on your route your total climb will be between 1585′ to 1610′ and the total distance between 7.6 and 7.9-miles round trip. Note, the area has been logged and woods roads will intersect with the main path. The other woods roads drop down into the valley.

Camping

Do not camp on private land unless you have permission.

Camping at the lean-to is first come first serve and no lean-to or designated campsite can be reserved. Lean-to capacity is about 7-8 people. All designated primitive tent sites have yellow and black “Camp Here” markers. Many sites on lakes and ponds are identified by a yellow number against a dark brown wooden plaque typically attached to a tree near the water’s edge.

At-large backcountry camping is also allowed. Campsites must be below 3,500 feet in elevation and at least 150 feet away from the nearest road, trail, or body of water.

Camping for more than three nights or in a group of ten or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger.

Safety and Wellness

Please sign in at all trail registers, here’s why.

Bears

There are an estimated 1,800 to 2,000 black bears in the Catskills. The following are the recommendations from the DEC on bear management:

  • Use bear-resistant food canisters. These are a highly effective means for preventing bears from getting your food, toiletries, and garbage. Use of bear-resistant canisters is encouraged throughout the Adirondack and Catskill backcountry, and are required in Eastern High Peaks Wilderness of the Adirondack Park.
  • Pack a minimal amount of food. The less food to store the better. Use lightweight and dehydrated foods.
  • Cook and eat before dark. Bears become more active after sunset.
  • Cook away from your campsite. Choose an area at least 100 feet away from your sleeping area.
  • Be neat and clean while cooking. Avoid spills and drippings. Do not pour grease into your fire pit.
  • Keep food in storage containers. Only take out the food you plan to cook. Keep containers nearby and store food immediately if a bear approaches your cooking area.
  • Avoid leftovers. Carefully plan your meals and eat all that you cook.
  • Never leave food unattended. Bears may watch from a distance waiting for opportunities to steal food.

DEC Fact Sheet on Bear Encounters (PDF)

If You Encounter a Bear at Your Campsite

Do:

  • Use noise to scare bears away: Yell, clap, or bang pots immediately upon sighting a bear near your campsite.
  • Stay calm: Walk slowly and speak in a loud and calm voice.
  • Leave slowly: Cautiously back away from the bear and leave the area.

Don’t:

  • Approach, surround, or corner a bear: Bears aggressively defend themselves when they feel threatened. Be especially cautious around cubs as mother bears are very protective.
  • Run from a bear: They may chase.
  • Throw your backpack or food bag at an approaching bear: This will only encourage bears to approach and “bully” people to get food. By teaching a bear to approach humans for food, you are endangering yourself, other campers/residents, and the bears.

A note on water

Drinking and cooking water should be boiled for 5 minutes, treated with purifying tablets, or filtered through filtration device to prevent instances of giardia infection.

Contacts and Map

Big Indian Wilderness
Contact Information:DEC Region 3 New Paltz Office:
phone (845) 256-3000 (M-F 8:30AM - 4:30PM), email: r3admin@dec.ny.gov
Law Enforcement, Emergency & Ranger: 518-408-5850 or dial 911
Location: Towns of Denning, Shadaken and Hardenburgh in Ulster County
Map: Big Indian Wilderness Map
Amenities:Gas may be found in the nearby communities of Arkville, Fleischmanns, Livingston Manor and Pine Hill.
Food and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Margaretville and Livingston Manor.
Dining opportunities can be found in the nearby communities of Arkville, Big Indian, Fleischmanns, Margaretville and Pine Hill.
Lodging may be found in the nearby communities of Arkville, Big Indian, Fleischmanns, Oliverea and Pine Hill.
Weather:Big Indian Mountain Forecast
Cell Service:Never count on your cell phone for rescue. There are many spots in the Big Indian Wilderness that service is poor.

Graham Mountain Hiking Map

Click on the map or here for an interactive version of the map

Graham Mountain Hiking Map
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Graham Mountain Hiking Map