Balm of Gilead Mountain is a short hike through a beautiful northern hardwood forest to a rocky, open summit with great views of the Siamese Ponds Wilderness area and the central Adirondacks
Balm of Gilead Mountain
1.5 miles (3 miles round trip)
North Creek, Warren County
Hiking, Snowshoeing, Cross-Country Skiing
The Balm of Gilead Mountain Trail is a 3-mile hike through the Forest Preserve in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness in the northwest corner of Warren County, outside of North Creek. The parking area is reached via the long, winding Thirteenth Lake Road off of Route 28 in North River. After 4 miles on 13th Lake Road, the route veers to the right onto Old Farm Clearing Road, a seasonal dirt road that ends in a large circular parking lot beside the trailhead. The hike is predominantly flat through a stretch of beautiful hardwood forest, before ascending just over 400 feet to a rocky summit with an excellent view of nearby Thirteenth Lake and the surrounding mountains and ridges. The first mile of this trail is part of the Botheration Pond Loop cross-country ski trip.
The start of the trail is clearly marked with blue trail markers and follows a wide path that was once part of Old Farm Clearing Road. The road is growing in with grasses and young trees, which have narrowed the trail corridor. The road descends gently and after a few hundred yards, it reaches the trail register in the middle of a junction of trails. To hike Balm of Gilead Mountain, turn left onto the Halfway Brook Trail, and follow the yellow markers. There are many large yellow birch trees in this area.
After the junction, the trail is wet and muddy in sections. In these patches, watch for the bright orange of eastern newts standing out sharply over the dark mud and green, mossy rocks. A number of log bridges cross wetlands and streams. This portion of the trail is mainly flat. In the winter, this trail is part of the popular Botheration Pond cross-cross-country ski loop. After about a mile, the trail thins as it reaches another junction.
At the intersection, the trail turns right and follows red markers toward the Balm of Gilead summit. The path immediately begins to ascend fairly steeply for the first time over a rocky stretch. The climb is steady for this last half-mile as the trail passes the faces of large bedrock outcrops. Large deciduous trees dominate the forest in this area, with openings in the canopy where sunlight streams onto the trail. After the trail flattens out slightly, the surrounding forest area shifts to a pine forest. Large boulders crop up around the trail as it opens out onto the summit.
The summit is spacious, with plenty of areas to sit and enjoy lunch after the hike. The mountain offers a delightful, broad, and varied view for such a brief climb. To the west, Thirteenth Lake stretches through the valley and Peaked Mountain rises up out of the forest above it. The thick stands of spruce and balsam on the summit and their moss-covered roots provide soft and shady spots from which to admire the surrounding landscape.
The trek back out follows the same path with markers that change from red to yellow to blue at the two junctions. This is a beautiful hike, accessible for anyone who is comfortable and able to walk the full 3 miles round trip.
Click here to download a map and trail directions for Balm of Gilead Mountain.
Help Protect the Forest Preserve and Be Prepared When You Hike: Please follow “carry in, carry out” rules for all trash and follow all other Leave No Trace principles when hiking in the public Forest Preserve and other wild areas. The seven Leave No Trace principles are: 1) Plan ahead and prepare ; 2) Stay on hiking trails and camp at designated areas; 3) Dispose of human waste and trash properly; 4) Leave what you find; 5) Minimize campfires; 6) Respect wildlife; 7) Respect other hikers.
Educated hikers do not damage the environment. Prepared hikers do not need search and rescue unless injured.
Winter Use: Balm of Gilead Mountain is used for snowshoeing in the winter and the first part of the trail is part of the popular Botheration Pond Loop cross-country ski trail. The road is not plowed in the winter months, so the parking lot is closed. A seasonal parking lot in located on Old Farm Clearing Road, just off of Thirteenth Lake Road.