TRIP REPORT: Seward Range in One Day – Adirondacks, NY 7-11-15
When I originally researched doing the Seward range in a day, most sources advise doing it as a two day trip. Personally I prefer day trips and knew that I would not be going with that strategy. Doing the Seward range in one day certainly involves a lot of mileage and commitment but for the fit hiker it should pose no major hurdle. I would compare it to doing the Dix range in a day, but slightly worse due to mud, slightly more distance, and overall trail conditions. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to drop me a line via e-mail or the comments below.
Hike stats at a glance:
5,500ft of elevation gain
4 High Peaks – Seymour, Seward, Donaldson, Emmons
10.5 hrs total to complete
80 degree hot and humid day
I started the day at 6 am from the Corey Rd trail head. The trailhead was easy to find and your vehicles GPS should be able to get you to Corey Rd without a problem. Once you get to the road you just follow it for a bit and the trail head is on your right. On this particular day the parking lot was mostly empty with only 2-3 cars at this time. After signing in I was warmed up and ready to go.
The first few miles are relatively flat and straight forward which is nice first thing in the morning to get warmed up. After 0.5 miles you will come to the first fork in the trail. The foot trail continues to the left and the horse trail on the right. I made a left turn and continued down the trail. After 0.7 miles you will come to another fork in the trail. At this junction you will have to make a choice if you want to continue straight and do Seymour first or make a right towards the Calkins Brook trail to do the other three peaks first. I decided to continue on to Seymour as it was the most out of the way and figured I would do it first. Also by doing Seymour first I could then take the Ward Brook trail up the backside of Seward instead of hiking down it. The next roughly 4.2 miles to the Seymour herd path is pretty uneventful. The trail stays mostly flat as you move along passing both the Blueberry and Ward Brook lean-tos. As you walk the first cairn you see on your left will be for the Ward Brook herd path up Seward. The second one just past a bridge after passing the lean-tos is the one you want for Seymour.
The herd path up Seymour is easy to follow and in decent shape. The path weaves its way upwards at a fairly easy angle before you get to the slide and things ramp up to the top. If you are familiar to hiking in the Adirondack High Peaks then there will be nothing new here. You can grab on to roots as you make your way upwards. There were no particular hard sections and this section went by fairly quickly.
By 8:56 am I was enjoying the views on top of Seymour. On this day there were bright blue skies with hardly a cloud in sight. Seymour is a wooded summit but still offers some excellent views from the top. Especially of the other three mountains in the range.
I knew I had a lot of hiking left to do so I didn’t linger long and made my way back down the way I had come. The decent went quickly but at one point following the slide I realized I had steered too far right missing a left turn that was marked by a small red ribbon on a tree. Once things became a bit overgrown I realized I had to turn around and back track. Although I did see some footprints so I may have stumbled upon an alternate or old trail up the slide. Either way I knew I didn’t have time to explore that this day so I rejoined the original path and made my way down. Once I got back to the road I made a left and jogged my way over to the Ward Brook herd path which wasn’t far down the road on the left marked by another small cairn. Unfortunately at the time I wasn’t thinking about this trip report and failed to snap a picture of the cairn and start of the herd path. I will be sure to avoid similar omissions in the future.
In doing my research, other peoples old trip reports from the last couple of years suggested that the Ward Brook herd path was washed out, hard to follow, and nearly impassable. Although the trail is a bit washed out I didn’t find it hard to follow and it was more or less similar to the Seymour trail. The only major difference is that the last stretch of the Ward Brook herd path is much steeper and requires a bit of scrambling over rocks and debris.
By 11:54 am I was on the wooded summit of Seward. The hardest part of the hike was done and it was mostly all down hill from here. There are some obstructed views to be had from the Seward summit.
I didn’t linger on the summit of Seward and made my way over to Donaldson knowing that I still had to go up and over Donaldson to reach Emmons which from this viewpoint still seemed quite far away.
By 12:37pm I made it across the ridge to Donaldson which is another wooded peak. However, near the summit there is a little path that leads to a large rock with a nice breeze that would be perfect to take a break on. I stopped briefly to take a look and enjoy the breeze but didn’t linger long. Emmons still looked far away and I knew I had to go there and back to Donaldson before I could make my decent.
Mount Emmons holds the title of being the furthest west High Peak in the Adirondacks and by 1:20 pm I had made it across from Donaldson. It is another wooded summit, but it does offer a nice view looking back over Donaldson and Seward. It was also at this point that I realized I was nearly out of water and still had many miles left to go for the day. Between the heat and my pace I guess I had been drinking like it was an endless fountain. I knew this would slow me down but otherwise I still felt good.
Once making it back to Donaldson I knew it was all down hill to go back to the parking lot. Just past Donaldson after scrambling down the short rock slab you will see the cairn marking the Calkins Brook herd path on your left. This is the way you would have come up had you decided to do the loop in the other direction. The trail has a fairly moderate grade and the hike down was pretty uneventful. Except I will note not having much water left just makes you even more thirsty. About half way down the Calkins Brook path I completely ran out. To make things more annoying once I finally reached the old road which comprised most of the roughly 5 miles I had left a swarm of mosquitoes and black flies decided to keep me company. They incessantly buzzed around my face and bit me quite a few times for the whole 5 miles. I had originally planned to run this last section on the way out but without having had water and the heat and humidity I didn’t want to run into any trouble on such a quiet trail. All of this made it a bit of a death march to the car but overall I felt good and was pleased with how things went.
In the end I was back to the parking lot by 4:30 pm for a total of 10.5 hours. I have seen other people posting times of doing this particular loop in about 9.5 hours which I think is realistic for a fit hiker and the right conditions. Doing the Seward Range in a day is definitely a serious endeavor, but also one that is quite possible.
Thank you for taking the time to read my trip report and be sure to check back regularly for others. If you having any comments or questions please do not hesitate to drop a comment below or shoot me an e-mail. I am always happy to help.