The Beaver Meadow Lean-to is one of the most perfectly placed lean-tos in the Catskills. With the front facing a beautiful beaver pond and spur ridges from Mill Brook and Cradle Rock Ridges as the backdrop, it provides the camper with a wonderfully serene spot to camp. The absence of trees between the lean-to and the pond allows for spectacular stargazing by the shelter fireplace. With that said, the lean-to constructed in 1997, is in need of some serious TLC and a new privy. It seems that the lean-to is a popular camping destination and one should plan to camp at the primitive campsites as a back-up.
Featured Photo: Beaver Meadow Lean-to. Above clockwise from top left: Footbridge on the Alder Loop Trail; Primitive camping disk and bear warning sign at Alder Lake; Primitive campsite near the Beaver Meadow Lean-to; Panoramic view of the beaver meadow from near lean-to; Trail sign at lean-to showing direction to spring; Alder Creek hiking on the Mill Brook Ridge Trail; Alder Lake parking area; Alder Lake trailhead sign; Alder Lake from lodge ruins; Trail sign at the junction with the Alder Lake Loop and Mill Brook Ridge trails.
The Beaver Meadow Lean-to is located in the Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest about 2.4-miles from the Alder Lake trailhead. It is a nice place for people to camp who are through-hiking on the Finger Lakes Trail or doing a quick overnight and hiking the Mill Brook Ridge area. With the option of camping at many other campsites in the area, the backpacker can take a chance on getting a spot in the lean-to and if full easily find camping elsewhere.
With all the positives the lean-to has to offer, the condition of the lean-to itself is not so great. The roof of the structure is in need of work as we counted at least 4 holes. Also, when one pushes or probes the underside of the roof you can feel softness indicating possible wood rot.
The privy is… well… really not. There is a good water supply via a pipe fed spring. Finally, with the high usage, the area has a fair amount of trash but is odd given its distance from the trailhead.
Lean-to Specs / Photos
|Land unit:||Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest|
|Water:||Yes / Pipe-fed spring|
|Distance from trail:||100-150′|
|Floor dimensions:||8′.5″ x 12′|
|Entrance and peak height:||81″ and 74″|
|Privy:||Not really (see photos)|
|Comments:||The roof is in need of repair. Part of the roof is tarped to waterproof. Some of the sidewall joints have gaps. Privy is essentially a toilet seat with a hole in the ground.|
From Alder Lake
|Distance:||2.4-miles (4.8-miles RT)||Route type:||Can be varied|
|Total climb:||640′||Hike type:||Trails|
|How hard?||Easy-moderate||Trailhead:||Alder Lake|
|Return to TH||2.4-miles (4.8-miles RT)|
From Balsam Lake Mountain Trailhead
|Distance:||5.4-miles||Route type:||Can be varied|
|Total climb:||1850′||Hike type:||Trails|
|How hard?||Difficult||Trailhead:||Balsam Lake Trailhead|
|Return to TH||5.4-miles (10.8 RT)|
|Point-to-point to Alder Lake||7.8-miles|
Rules for Lean-to Camping
- Tents are not allowed inside lean-tos and must be at least 150 feet from the lean-to.
- Lean-tos are available on a first-come, first-served basis and cannot be reserved.
- Lean-tos should be shared by multiple parties until filled to capacity (normally 8 people).
- Fires should be built in existing fire pits or fireplaces if provided.
- Campfires must be less than 3 feet in height and 4 feet in diameter.
- Cutting standing trees is prohibited. Use only dead and down wood for fires.
- Extinguish all fires with water and stir ashes until they are cold to the touch.
- Get your firewood from a local vendor (within 50 miles of your destination) and ask for a receipt or label that lists the firewood’s local source.
- Use pit privies provided near popular camping areas and trailheads. If none are available, dispose of human waste by digging a hole 6″-8″ deep at least 150 feet from water or campsites
- Carry out what you carry in.
- Camping for more than three nights or with 10 or more people requires a permit from a Forest Ranger.
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 the map or here for an interactive version of the map.