Beaver Pond on the Kelly Hollow Loop Trail

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.

The Dirt

Distance:3.75-milesRoute type:Loop
Total climb:665′ totalHike type:Trail
How hard?EasyTrailhead:Mill Brook Road
East trailhead to first campsite0.10-mile
First campsite to second campsite0.33-miles (.44-miles from TH)
Second campsite to short loop junction0.14-miles (.58-miles from TH)
Junction to first foot bridge0.67-miles (1.25-miles from TH)
First foot bridge to lean-to0.75-miles (2.0-miles from TH)
Lean-to to beaver pond inlet and foot bridge0.13-miles (2.13-miles from TH)
Beaver pond inlet and foot bridge to short loop junction0.50-miles (2.63-miles from TH)
Short loop junction to bridge0.09-miles (2.72-miles from TH)
Bridge to west trailhead parking lot and campsites0.58-miles (3.30-miles from TH)
West trailhead to east trailhead0.45-miles (3.75-miles total)

Hike description

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.

Mill Brook Covered Bridge on Mill Brook Road
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking Mill Brook Covered Bridge on Mill Brook Road

Once at the east trailhead you’ll see a large sign marking the parking area.

Kelly Hollow Trailhead Sign
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking Kelly Hollow Trailhead Sign

The parking lot has room for about 8 to 10 cars depending on the size of the vehicles and how people park.

Parking area from near the kiosk
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking Parking area from near the kiosk
Trailhead kiosk and register with trail and ski markers
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking Trailhead kiosk and register with trail and ski markers

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 pines! A great spot for a first camping experience.

First primitive campsite from the east parking area
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking First primitive campsite from the east parking area
Pines over the campsite.
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking Pines over the campsite.

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.

Barrier sign and gate
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking Barrier sign with bullet holes and gate behind

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.

Path right to campsite, left continue on trail
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking Path right to campsite, left continue on trail

From the campsite junction, you’ll hike another 0.14-miles and reach the junction with the Short Loop Trail at 0.58-miles.

Long Loop to the left, Short Loop to the right
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking Long Loop to the left, Short Loop to the right

After the junction the trail will begin to climb and you’ll hike next to and eventually through a beautiful section of tall pines.

Hiking and ski markers on the Kelly Hollow Trail
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking Hiking and ski markers on the Kelly Hollow Trail

After a bit of climbing you reach a drainage that is heading to the stream in the ravine below to your right.

Kelly Hollow Trail crossing stream
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking Kelly Hollow Trail crossing stream

At 1.25-miles you reach the first of two closely spaced bridges.

First foot bridge
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking First foot bridge
Chris on second foot bridge
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking Chris on second foot bridge

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 pines.

Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking On the pines on the Kelly Hollow Trail

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.

Approaching the Kelly Hollow Lean-to
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking Approaching the Kelly Hollow Lean-to
Kelly Hollow Lean-to
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking Kelly Hollow Lean-to

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.

Outlet stream of the beaver pond at the Kelly Hollow Lean-to
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking Outlet stream of the beaver pond at the Kelly Hollow Lean-to
The beaver pond at the Kelly Hollow Lean-to
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking The beaver pond at the Kelly Hollow Lean-to
The beaver pond at the Kelly Hollow Lean-to
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking The beaver pond at the Kelly Hollow Lean-to

At 2.13-miles you’ll reach the inlet stream that drains from Mill Brook Ridge into the beaver pond.

Bridge at the inlet of the beaver pond
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking Bridge at the inlet of 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.

Looking back uphill at the west Kelly Hollow Short Loop Trail sign
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking Looking back uphill at the west Kelly Hollow Short Loop Trail sign

At 2.72-miles you cross another large bridge which is about 0.72-miles from the lean-to.

Last Bridge on the Kelly Hollow Trail heading to the west TH
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking Last Bridge on the Kelly Hollow Trail heading to the west TH

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.

Campsite near the west trailhead
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking Campsite near the west trailhead

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
Phone: 845-256-3000
email: r3admin@dec.ny.gov
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

Kelly Hollow Loop Map
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking

Other stuff you may like...

Any thoughts? Leave a comment!

Please note changes in access and rules for hiking and camping in the Adirondacks and Catskills during the COVID-19 outbreak. Please act responsibly during this stressful period. Please read the DEC info carefully. Read more here!

X