ADK High Peaks Views and Difficulty Descriptions
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The climb is about 3,000 feet in 15 miles round trip from the Adirondack Lodge (a.k.a. "the loj"), which makes for a long day. 360 degree views from atop the highest point in New York State make this an easy view-seeker's dream. There are other routes to Marcy that add mileage, elevation, and difficulty. Many of those routes make climbing neighboring Skylight, Gray, Colden, The Great Range, and Haystack possible in the same (long) day.
One of the easier climbs from the Adirondack Lodge, Algonquin provides 360 degree views in just under 3,000 feet climbed and 10 miles of hiking. Often done with Wright and Iroquios. Part of the MacIntyre Range (which consists of Wright, Algonquin, Iroquois, Marshall).
Long hike with substantial elevation gain earns it a 10 difficulty. Very scenic 360 degree views partially blocked by Marcy to the northwest. Unique perspective into Panther Gorge. Considered part of The Upper Great Range.
It's 17 miles round trip via the shortest route. Views to the north and east are blocked by Marcy and Haystack, but both mountains are a treat to see from this angle. Skylight's summit also has 360 degree views. Often done in conjunction with Gray Peak as a loop over Marcy back to the Adirondack Lodge. Because of the elevation gain needed to either re-climb Lake Arnold or Mt Marcy, this is a very strenuous hike.
Whiteface is many miles north of the closest high peak, which puts most of the mountains at 10+ miles away. On a clear day the views are alright, but any haze blocks all the detail of the neighboring mountains. 360 degree views (if you walk around the tower and climb over the hordes people who drove up and took the elevator). Only peak you can buy a soda and hotdog during the summer months at the top. A lot of people choose Whiteface to finish their 46 so family and friends can join them. I say make 'em sweat! Finish on Haystack, better views. People often add Esther as a side hike.
All approaches to the top of Dix are long and strenuous. Very well could be a 10 difficulty climb in extreme weather due to eroded trails and bare rock. Views of other mountains are mostly to the west and distant because of where Dix is situated. 360 degree views.
Another long hike with only nominal elevation gain once to Lake Tear of the Clouds. Also can be climbed along the ridge from Marcy (via an unmaintained/umarked path). Best views are of Marcy and to the northwest. Often done in conjunction with nearby Skylight.
Great views across Indian Pass at Wallface and of the Santanoni Range. Moderate to strenuous hike because you either have to re-climb Algonquin for several hundred feet of gain or head down a steep trail to Lake Colden, adding miles and more difficult trail to the hike. 360 degree views. Part of the MacIntyre Range (which consists of Wright, Algonquin, Iroquois, Marshall).
Almost as difficult as Haystack to climb, with 180 degree views south and west. East and northeast perspectives available by crossing to the north side of the summit. Nice perspective of Haystack and Marcy. Part of The Upper Great Range.
My favorite views in the entire high peaks are from Gothics sub-peak called Pyramid (between Sawteeth and Gothics summit). 360 degree views from the summit. Steep but relatively short climbs from all sides. Part of The Lower Great Range. Often done in conjunction with neighboring mountains as loops back to John's Brook Lodge (The Garden trailhead) or the AMR (Lake Road/Ausable Club trailhead).
Views southeast and northeast are great, as well as west looking at the MacIntyre Range 2 miles directly west. Unfortunately this also limits your views west. Looking down into Avalanche Pass is also breathtaking. Easiest ascent is from Marcy Dam to Lake Arnold and up. Can be done in conjunction with other nearby mountains (long day).
At 6 miles round trip from the Chapel Pond trail head this would seem to be an easy climb, but in those 6 miles you ascend and descend 3,000 feet. Views of the Dix Range and Lower Great Range are great all along the Ridge Trail as you're climbing. One of my favorite short climbs. 180 degree views south and west from the summit. Often done in conjunction with nearby Rocky Ridge Peak.
Strenuous climb from any direction. From Elk Pass you do 2,000 feet in about 1 mile, making it one of the steepest trail climbs in the high peaks. Views are mostly west from the summit. Often done in conjunction with Dial.
The hike through Bradley Pond is a muddy mess due to (previous) landowners denying a trail reroute, but once you start heading up to Times Square the trail becomes less cumbersome. From various parts of the summit you get views in all directions. Being one of the furthermost west ranges your views are panoramic without much detail. Part of the Santanoni Range (which includes Santanoni, Panther and Couchsachraga). * With acquisition of the lands along most of the trails to Bradley Pond by a more agreeable group there should be maintenance on this trail system soon (noted July 2007). *
Long hike into the more remote parts of the high peaks area. Beautiful trail along Uphill Brook (nearly to the summit). Views can be found in most directions by wandering the summit area. Often done in conjunction with Cliff, whose path currently starts 2 minutes into hiking along the Redfield trail. * A new trail up Cliff has been flagged and is awaiting DEC approval and clearing by the ADK 46ers Club. This new trail starts along the ridge away from the current herd paths, eventually intersecting the old paths on top. If found, do not attempt to follow the new path. It goes through fields of blow down and should be considered impassible at this time. *
One of the shorter hikes to a high peak from the Adirondack Lodge, Wright offers an impressive 360 degree view from the summit. There are some steep sections on the trail, especially near the top. Part of the MacIntyre Range (which consists of Wright, Algonquin, Iroquois, Marshall).
Easiest to climb from The Garden/John's Brook Lodge via Ore Bed Brook. From the Basin Mt side you would have to tackle a very steep section of bare rock near the summit. The south/Basin side of Saddleback is often referred to as the hardest single section of climbing of the trailed 46 high peaks. I've climbed Saddleback from both sides and prefer the easier approach from the northwest. Views are mostly south with a nice perspective of the slides on Basin. Part of The Upper Great Range.
Slightly less difficult than Santanoni. 180 degree views west, and from just past the summit you can stand on a rock and catch some good views east. Part of the Santanoni Range (which includes Santanoni, Panther and Couchsachraga). * With acquisition of the lands along most of the trails to Bradley Pond by a more agreeable group there should be maintenance on this trail system soon (noted July 2007). *
Essentially you're hiking to Marcy, then taking a left just before Indian Falls. Another 1,000 feet up along a difficult herd path and you're on Tabletop. From the trail as you're climbing there are views west of Algonquin and Colden, and past the summit you can see Marcy and Haystack. In the winter months (with 6 or more feet of snow pack) you can see above the short summit spruce to get 360 degree views. Often done in conjunction with Phelps.
Whether climbing it from Giant or across the entire Rocky Ridge, this is a difficult and strenuous hike. If you choose to hike the ridge it would be worth your time as the views and alpine plant life along the ridge itself make for a memorable trip. 270 degree views from the summit of the Dix Range, Giant, and the Lower Great Range.
Easiest route is from Elk Lake to a herd path that takes you to a slide. Once on the slide the views across Elk Lake toward the eastern high peaks unfold with each foot climbed. From the summit you get 180 degree views west. Slide is relatively easy to climb with only a few 'tricky' spots. Part of the Dix Range.
A moderate climb whether coming over Upper Wolfjaw or from the col between Armstrong and Gothics. 180 degree views are toward the west and southwest. You can see most of Gothics. Part of The Lower Great Range.
To hike Hough via the unmarked trails you have to be coming from one or more of the neighboring peaks in the Dix Range, making this a more remote and difficult summit to climb. Nice views south and west, as well as peeks over to the beckhorn on Dix.
Long hike from Corey's Road with enough elevation gain to warrant a higher difficulty ranking. Trail from Ward Brook is steep and eroded, adding more difficulty. Views past the summit looking south, and as you're climbing looking north. No views from the summit. Part of the Seward Range (which consists of Seward, Seymour, Donaldson, and Emmons).
14 miles round trip from Upper Works with just over 2000 feet climbed makes for a long day, but just shy of being really difficult. The treat is hiking along Herbert Brook, which is carpeted with soft moss. It's probably my favorite trail in the high peaks. You also get to walk a stretch of the slide Herbert Brook has carved out. Once on top there are several distinct paths to lookouts. Views east, south, and west can be had as well as a nice view of neighboring Iroquois. Part of the MacIntyre Range (which consists of Wright, Algonquin, Iroquois, Marshall).
18 miles and 3,000 feet of elevation gain qualify Allen for being one of the more difficult single peaks to climb on the 46er list. The slide you follow is also very slick due to moss and other growth, which slows progress ensuring your footing. From the summit you get most of the possible views except looking due south. From the north part of the summit there's a herd path to views into Panther Gorge.
Best views of the entire Great Range can be found from the trail along The Brothers and from Big Slide's summit. Although a relatively short hike, you do climb 3,000 feet and there are a few sections of steep bare rock.
Be sure to check out the plaque on top, because apart from looking at the winding road along Whiteface you won't have much else to look at. To the distant south you can make out the shapes of the other 44 peaks. Often done in conjunction with Whiteface. The start of path to Esther is along the trail up Whiteface, well marked with a large rock cairn.
Steep climb but not a terribly long hike. Views past the summit looking southwest, and from the summit looking east. The burn marks from the recent Noonmark fire can be seen. Part of The Lower Great Range.
Views looking west from the summit. Short, easy to moderate climb from The Garden. Part of The Lower Great Range.
Moderate climb with some views past the summit looking south towards Algonquin. Often done in conjunction with Nye. Head left once you reach the intersection in the col (about 3,500 feet). Can also bushwhack to col by following the drainage from Wanika Falls along the Northville Placid Trail.
While this appears to be as easy on paper as Wright or Street/Nye from the Adirondack Loj, the climb up Phelps is much easier in practice so I gave it a lower difficulty rating. Views of Marcy and Algonquin are good. Good views and easy hike mean there's usually a large number of people on the summit on any given day. This is also the closest high peak from the much visited camping areas near Marcy Dam. People will often add Tabletop to the same day hike. This makes for a significantly longer day.
Going up the newly formed path along Caulkins Brook helps to remove this from the strenuous category. Still not an easy hike due to mileage for the day over mostly unmaintained trails. Good views East from the summit and West from a lookout. Part of the Seward Range (which consists of Seward, Seymour, Donaldson, and Emmons).
Long hike but most of it occurs along well maintained DEC trails until a difficult climb 2000 feet up a heavily eroded path (the start of which is marked by a cairn after the Ward Brook lean-to). 180 degree views south, across the Cold River valley to the Santanoni Range and southwest to the rest of the Seward Range (Seward, Donaldson, and Emmons). Another path from the summit has views west and north, including a glimpse into Ouluska Pass.
From the Weld Trail this is a moderate day hike. Via the "scenic trail" that starts along the Ausable Lake shore it's much more difficult, although you're treated to good views from numerous lookouts along the way. Views from the summit looking west at the bare rock of the neighboring mountains of The Great Range.
360 degree views from the shortest climb in the high peaks. What more could you ask for?
You have to climb over at least one other peak in the Dix Range to reach South Dix, so that adds an element of difficulty that should be noted. From various parts of the summit you can see east, south, and west.
Next to Cascade, but slightly further off the main trail (hence a slightly higher difficulty rating) makes this the second easiest peak. Unlike Cascade, there's some obstructed views because of trees, but you can still see in all directions from various parts of the peak. Usually done in conjunction with Cascade. Can also be done from The Garden and the shuttle parking lot. These alternate routes are more difficult.
Hiking along Gill Brook you reach Colvin's summit with relative ease. 180 degree views north and west. Good views of The Upper Great Range. Often done in conjunction with nearby Blake.
Longest hike in the Seward Range. Unless you climb a slide from the Cold River to the east, you'll have to climb Donaldson and walk along a thick and sometimes muddy ridgeline to reach Emmons. Either route is difficult. Glimpses of views from Emmons' summit looking south, obscured views of Seward, Donaldson, and Seymour.
From Lake Road, to Noonmark's shoulder, and over Bear Den this is a moderate hike. Views from the summit are mostly to the west. Often done in conjunction with Nippletop.
Either from Route 73 or from Macomb/South Dix this is a long hike with 2500-3000 feet of elevation gain. Both routes are on unmaintained trails. The trail from Route 73 is along the Boquet River, then up or along the Great Slide. The trail between South and East Dix is unique and "wild" due to being sheltered. Either way this is a scenic walk in remote woods. Views in every direction can be had from various parts of East Dix's summit, including some great 180 degree views north and west from atop the Great Slide.
The South side of Colvin is moderately steep, but generally the hike to from Colvin to Blake is uneventful. No views whatsoever from atop Blake (a.k.a. "Bleak Peak"). New views have opened up on one steep section heading up Blake due to some recent blowdown, and past the viewless summit of Blake towards Pinnacle Mountain there's a side trail to a vista. Leaving the low views ranking due to no views whatsoever from Blake's highest point. Blake can also be done as an 18 mile round trip from Elk Lake, with a lot of elevation gain / loss hiking over the Pinnacle Range.
Added to the 17 miles round trip is standing water and mud, then an opportunity to play gymnastics through several small fields of blow down on the way to the summit of Cliff. In the winter there's an alternate path up the west side of the mountain, which skirts much of the blow down. Thanks to the fallen trees on the peak you can see some of the neighboring mountains like Skylight, Algonquin, Redfield, and Colden. Often done in conjunction with Redfield. * A new trail up Cliff has been flagged and is awaiting DEC approval and clearing by the ADK 46er Club. This new trail starts along the ridge away from the current herd paths, eventually intersecting the old paths on top. If found, do not attempt to follow the new path. It goes through fields of blow down and should be considered impassible at this time. *
Short hike from the Adirondack Lodge. No views from the summit. Usually done in conjunction with Street. Head right/forward at the intersection in the col (at approximately 3500').
Some surveyor must have lost their job over this one. Couchsachraga falls very well short of the supposed 4,000 foot mark, but it's no slouch of a hike. You have to wade through mud to Bradley Pond, climb to Times Square, then drop 800 feet (to be re-climbed as you return over the same trail), then climb several false summits before finally reaching the peak. Once there you have limited views of Panther and Santanoni, and some obstructed views south. Part of the Santanoni Range (which includes Santanoni, Panther and Couchsachraga). * With acquisition of the lands along most of the trails to Bradley Pond by a more agreeable group there should be maintenance on this trail system soon (noted July 2007). *
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Photo Journal by Kevin Heckeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at vegasclimb.com, westernclimbing.com and adkclimb.com.
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