“An intense bushwhack through balsam fir trees and over large boulders and cliffs to Friday Mountain.”
— Nicholas Geron
Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildlife
There are a few houses and pieces of private property by Moon Haw Road. Make sure to steer clear of any private land.
This route climbs Friday Mountain from the east. At the summit there are amazing views of the Ashokan Reservoir. Expect challenging bushwhacking, as well as large cliffs and boulders that you'll need to scale. The trail is steep with almost 2600 feet of elevation gain in about 2.5-3 miles.
Need to Know
The bushwhacking is dense and difficult. Pack gloves, glasses, gators. In the winter months, you need at least yak tracks if not micro spikes or snowshoes. The terrain is steep and unforgiving if you fall. A compass and a good map (or the Hiking Project mobile app
) are a must.
You can park anywhere along Moon Haw Road. We parked near the first fork of the river but most people park further along. The trail ascends steeply, however, there are many logging roads that can make the hiking easier. Be careful about following these logging trails too closely, make sure to stay on the ridge. You should come across a cabin 1.3 miles up.
Continuing from there, stay on or near the ridge on the left side. You'll eventually head into a ridge path or rim trail that will take you from around the bottom of Friday towards Balsam Cap (to the south). As you continue on, you'll see large cliffs on your right towards Friday (north). If you see a chute or think you can ascend anywhere along this ridge, you should do so. The ridge trail eventually leads you close to the summit of Balsam.
Once you find a chute between cliffs, you should be able to ascend to Friday Mountain. The summit is covered in dense balsam trees that make navigating difficult and frustrating. The canister is not at the highest part of the summit but rather on the eastern side with amazing views.
From the summit it is best to descend the way you came. We went (as the map shows) northeast but immediately regretted it. There are many cliffs and extremely steep slopes that are hard to navigate (we crawled the next mile on the ice). It took us over an hour and the descent was brutal. We descended on the northeast face until we reached a tributary of Wittenberg Brook. On the far side of the brook we found an old logging trail and were able to follow it back to Moon Haw Road and from there to the car.