In the northwestern part of the 13,500 acre Balsam Lake Wild Forest sits a relatively isolated trail loop. The Kelly Hollow Loop which starts and finishes on Mill Brook Road and is closed in on three sides by Mill Brook Ridge. The old woods road the trail follows was once used as logging roads and probably by farms as you’ll be able to make out the extensive stone fence network and scattered foundations. The openness of the forest with towering pines provides the hiker with an enchanted feel as one hikes deeper into the hollow. Add some campsites, a lean-to, and an easy trail it makes for a great kid-friendly place. In the winter the trail makes for a great cross-country ski route. Beware that the hollow is popular with hunters in season.
|Total climb:||665′ total||Hike type:||Trail|
|How hard?||Easy||Trailhead:||Mill Brook Road|
|East trailhead to first campsite||0.10-mile|
|First campsite to second campsite||0.33-miles (.44-miles from TH)|
|Second campsite to short loop junction||0.14-miles (.58-miles from TH)|
|Junction to first foot bridge||0.67-miles (1.25-miles from TH)|
|First foot bridge to lean-to||0.75-miles (2.0-miles from TH)|
|Lean-to to beaver pond inlet and foot bridge||0.13-miles (2.13-miles from TH)|
|Beaver pond inlet and foot bridge to short loop junction||0.50-miles (2.63-miles from TH)|
|Short loop junction to bridge||0.09-miles (2.72-miles from TH)|
|Bridge to west trailhead parking lot and campsites||0.58-miles (3.30-miles from TH)|
|West trailhead to east trailhead||0.45-miles (3.75-miles total)|
The trailheads for the Kelly Hollow Loop Trail are located off Mill Brook Road about 20-minutes from Arkville. The drive from Arkville to the trailhead from Dry Brook Road is very pretty with a drive-by of the Mill Brook Covered Bridge site.
Once at the east trailhead you’ll see a large sign marking the parking area.
The parking lot has room for about 8 to 10 cars depending on the size of the vehicles and how people park.
After you sign in at the register, in about .10-mile you’ll reach a junction with the trail from the western trailhead and then a wonderful primitive campsite with towering conifers! A great spot for a first camping experience.
After the campsite, you’ll quickly cross a stream and come to a gate blocking access to the old woods road. Obviously, some people are not happy with this restriction and have taken their frustration out on the sign.
Hiking on the wide road with level to gentle grades, you see old stone walls and parts of foundations. At about 0.44-miles you’ll reach a junction to a path that leads a few hundred feet to a second primitive campsite tucked away in a small ravine.
From the campsite junction, you’ll hike another 0.14-miles and reach the junction with the Short Loop Trail at 0.58-miles.
After the junction the trail will begin to climb and you’ll hike next to and eventually through a beautiful section of Norway Spruce. The plantation of spruce was planted in 1937 by the CCC.
After a bit of climbing you reach a drainage that is heading to the stream in the ravine below to your right.
At 1.25-miles you reach the first of two closely spaced bridges.
Now continuing on a lovely section of trail with the stream still on your right the trail begins a large arch on a contour continuing in the spruce. You’ll find Bigtooth and Ash abundant in this area.
At 2-miles you reach the Kelly Hollow lean-to, which you can read about in-depth here. The lean-to is a great spot for a first overnight lean-to experience for the young hiker. In hunting season expect it to be used.
The stream below the lean-to is the outlet from the beaver pond which is only a couple of hundred feet away. Mill Brook Ridge towers over the pond. The trail closes in as you hike around the pond.
At 2.13-miles you’ll reach the inlet stream that drains from Mill Brook Ridge into the beaver pond.
The now narrow footpath stays on the level as it winds around the pond. Stop and look back at the beauty of the scene from different angles.
After leaving the pond you’ll begin your long descent toward the west trailhead.
At 2.63-miles you reach the west junction with the Short Loop Trail.
At 2.72-miles you cross another large bridge which is about 0.72-miles from the lean-to.
Continuing on the descent you are back into a forest with rock walls and the broad flat valley to your right.
You pass a small cemetery and at 3.30-miles the trail passes through a few campsites as the trail heads toward the road (really on it) turn right and head back through the forest to the east trailhead where you began the hike.
The Kelly Hollow loop is a great place to visit any time of year. It also provides nice places to camp with little to moderate effort. Given that it makes for an excellent place for people, especially families with kids, to try some primitive camping and backpacking to a lean-to. Cross-country skiers will find the trails especially nice as the short and long loop can meet the needs of skiers of various skill and fitness. As a place to get away from the crowds, it comes highly recommended.
Contact and Map
|Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest|
|Contact Information:||DEC Region 3 New Paltz
Office hours: M-F 8:30AM - 4:30PM
Law Enforcement, Emergency & Ranger: 518-408-5850 or dial 911
|Location:||Towns of Andes and Middletown, Delaware County; Town of Hardenburgh, Ulster County|
|Map:||Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest Map - PDF (3.15 MB)|
|Amenities:||Food and gas can be found in the towns of Arkville and Margaretville, both are the north along Route 28.|
|Weather:||Balsam Lake Mountain Weather|
Click on the map or here for an interactive version of the map
Backwoods wanderer with a passion for backpacking, hiking, kayaking, and exploring the wilds of the Catskills and Adirondacks in New York. A Catskill 3500 Club Member and Adirondack Forty-Sixer. Climbed Mount Rainier. Professionally an Exercise Physiologist.