Adirondack High Peaks Guide

On this page is a guide I have put together for the 46 peaks over 4,000 ft that are located within the Adirondack High Peaks region. These peaks are the ones that you need to climb in order to join the Adirondack 46er organization (http://www.adk46er.org/). The information here is compiled from my personal experience climbing these peaks in addition to information from various other sources. My goal was to create a guide that can be used to guide your own journey through the beautiful wilderness and peaks that make up the Adirondack High Peaks region. I also organized the information so that it will be useful for someone looking to optimize their time in the mountains. I present all 46 peaks in an order that minimizes the amount of trips and backtracking necessary to climb all of them. If you find any errors or have other information you would like to see on here please shoot me an e-mail at operationalaska30@gmail.com and I would be happy to make corrections and additions as necessary.

Before we begin with the list I would like to outline the difficulty scale that I will be using to outline these hikes. These guidelines are not hard and fast but serve to give you a rough idea of what you can expect to encounter on any given hike.

Easy:

  • 0-5 Miles Total
  • Suitable for the young and elderly
  • Limited elevation gain
  • Trails are well marked and in good condition.

Moderate:

  • 5-10 Miles Total
  • Limited to moderate elevation gain
  • Trails are marked and generally in good condition
  • Little to no rock scrambling

Strenuous:

  • 10-15 Miles Total
  • Moderate to significant elevation gain
  • Trails are marked or may have easy to follow herd paths
  • May include steep but short non exposed rock scrambles

Very Strenuous:

  • 15-20 Miles Total
  • Significant elevation gain
  • May or may not have marked trails, and herd paths may be difficult to follow
  • Trails may be in good or poor condition
  • May require some route finding
  • May include exposed rock scrambles with no roots or ladders for aid

Extreme:

  • 20+ Miles Total
  • May or may not have marked trails, bushwhacking may be required
  • Trail may be in generally poor condition
  • May include objective hazards such as loose rock, fast water crossings, etc
  • Some technical skills may be useful
  • Very significant elevation gain
  • Pre-Planning is necessary
  • May require challenging route finding
  • High altitude may be a consideration

Technical:

  • The technical designation is used to denote that specific technical skills such as ice climbing or rock climbing techniques and equipment are required to follow these routes. You should not attempt these routes without the requisite skills and equipment. Failure to do so may result in serious injury or death.

 

Time estimates can be generated by assuming the general travel times shown below. You can divide the total mileage by your estimated hiking speed to determine how much time may be needed for a given hike.

Slow = 1 mph

Average = 1.75 mph

Fast = 2.25

 

With that out of the way, below is a list of the 46 peaks listed by elevation. Although 4 peaks are under 4,000 ft they were historically surveyed as being over 4,000 so historically they were included on the list and still need to be climbed in order to become a 46er.

  1. Marcy 5,344 ft
  2. Algonquin 5,114 ft
  3. Haystack 4,960 ft
  4. Skylight 4,926 ft
  5. Whiteface 4,867 ft
  6. Dix 4,857 ft
  7. Gray 4,840 ft
  8. Iroquois Peak 4,840 ft
  9. Basin 4,827 ft
  10. Gothics 4,736 ft
  11. Colden 4,714 ft
  12. Giant 4,627 ft
  13. Nippletop 4,620 ft
  14. Santanoni 4,607 ft
  15. Redfield 4,606 ft
  16. Wright Peak 4,580 ft
  17. Saddleback 4,515 ft
  18. Panther 4,442 ft
  19. Tabletop 4,427 ft
  20. Rocky Peak 4,420 ft
  21. Macomb 4,405 ft
  22. Armstrong 4,400 ft
  23. Hough 4,400 ft
  24. Seward 4,361 ft
  25. Marshall 4,360 ft
  26. Allen 4,340 ft
  27. Big Slide 4,240 ft
  28. Esther 4,240 ft
  29. Upper Wolf Jaw 4,185 ft
  30. Lower Wolf Jaw 4,175 ft
  31. Street 4,166 ft
  32. Phelps 4,161 ft
  33. Donaldson 4,140 ft
  34. Seymour 4,120 ft
  35. Sawteeth 4,120 ft
  36. Cascade 4,098 ft
  37. South Dix 4,060 ft
  38. Porter 4,059 ft
  39. Colvin 4,057 ft
  40. Emmons 4,040 ft
  41. Dial 4,020 ft
  42. Grace Peak (East Dix) 4,012 ft
  43. Blake Peak 3,960 ft
  44. Cliff 3,960 ft
  45. Nye 3,895 ft
  46. Couchsachraga 3,820 ft

 

Below is a break down that I recommend and used myself to finish my 46 peaks. This break down is designed to group together peaks which are most efficiently climbed together in order to reduce the amount of hiking days needed to complete all 46. As an everyday adventurer with normally only weekends to work with, efficiency is key to maximize adventure. Of course every peak can be climbed alone or as an endless combination of other peaks as desired. I have also included recommendations for peaks to add or remove to increase or decrease overall difficulty respectively. This guide simply summarizes my personal experience and opinions and by no means represents the “right” way to do it.

The hikes below are considered to be day trips and I have listed them roughly from easiest to hardest based on my experience. I have also included suggestions for making each hike easier or harder where applicable. If you have any questions please feel free to e-mail me at operationalaska30@gmail.com and I would be more than happy to help you plan your next High Peaks adventure or help clear up any details you are unsure about!

 

 

Cascade and Porter

Recommended Trailhead = Rt 73

Miles Round trip = 5.7

Time Needed = +/- 4hrs

Total Elevation Gain = ~2,250 ft

Difficulty = Easy/Moderate

Peaks of Note = Cascade Mountain (4,098 ft), Porter Mountain (4,058 ft)

Make it Easier = Hike only Cascade

Make it Harder = Hike from the Garden Trailhead

 

Cascade is arguably the most popular peak on the Adirondack High Peaks list. Its relatively short approach, easy access off of Rt 73 and stunning views from the summit make it an instant classic. Cascades treeless summit is the highlight of this hike as it is generally uncommon in the area to have such great views on a treeless summit, especially at such a low elevation. Due to their close proximity adding Porter to the days hike is a no brainer and does not add much difficulty. Porter does not offer the same commanding views found on Cascade but it is still a mostly treeless summit and does offer some nice views, especially of Cascade. Cascade and Porter are a great introduction to hiking in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks. Although you may end up getting  a little spoiled by the great views.

 

Big Slide

Recommended Trailhead = The Garden

Miles Round trip = 8

Time Needed = 3.5 – 6 hrs

Total Elevation Gain = ~2,800 ft

Difficulty = Easy/Moderate

Peaks of Note = Big Slide (4,239 ft), Three Brothers: First Brother – (2,940 ft), Second Brother – (3,120 ft), Third Brother – (3,681 ft)

Make it Easier = N/A

Make it Harder = Add Yard Mountain (4,009 ft)

 

Big Slide is a fun mountain that offers big views and relatively easy hiking. The hike is steep at times but with all of the great views along the way, especially as you traverse The Brothers, you will have no problem catching your breath as you stop and gawk. The summit of Big Slide is mostly wooded but does offer beautiful views looking out to the Great Range. This is one of the better bang for your buck mountains on the list.

 

Phelps and Tabletop

Recommended Trailhead = Adirondack Loj

Miles Round trip = ~12.6

Time Needed = 6 – 8 hrs

Total Elevation Gain = ~3,750 ft

Difficulty = Moderate/Strenuous

Peaks of Note = Phelps (4,161 ft) and Tabletop (4,427 ft)

Make it Easier = Do Phelps and Tabletop as separate trips.

Make it Harder = Add Marcy (Adds significant mileage and elevation gain.)

 

Hiking Phelps has always been a popular choice for really getting out into the heart of the High Peaks. Phelps serves as a good introduction to the conditions you will face hiking other taller high peaks while still being fairly moderate overall. You can expect to find some beautiful unobstructed views from a rocky ledge on the summit. Although Tabletop is technically a “trail-less” peak, having only an unmarked herd path, it is perhaps one of the easier ones. The trail is mostly well defined and shouldn’t pose excessive difficulty. You can expect to find mostly obstructed views from the summit of Tabletop. When done together, Phelps and Tabletop make for a nice full day in the mountains.

 

Street and Nye

Recommended Trailhead = Adirondack Loj

Miles Round Trip = ~8

Total Elevation Gain = ~2,800 ft

Difficulty = Moderate/Strenuous

Peaks of Note = Street Mountain (4,160 ft) and Nye Mountain (3,895 ft)

Make it Easier = N/A

Make it Harder = Add Mt. Jo 2,877 ft (Limited mileage addition and has nice views of Heart Lake)

 

Street and Nye are perhaps not the easiest, most fun, or scenic High Peaks but due to the overall low mileage I am reluctant to put them much higher on this list. With that being said however, don’t let the low overall mileage of this hike lull you into a false sense of security. These peaks are not as easy as Cascade and Porter and some thought and physical effort will be required to have a successful day. Street and Nye are accessed by an unmarked herd path which is fairly well defined but may be slightly more challenging to locate at lower elevations on the mountain. There is also a water crossing which may require wading through the water (approximately 1.5-2 ft depending on seasonal level), although this can potentially be avoided by hiking up stream and searching for an alternate rock crossing. The views are nice but limited and semi obstructed on Street and mostly non existent on Nye. Street and Nye offer a good introduction to the gritty and wild nature of other peaks on the 46er list.

 

Colden

Recommended Trailhead = Adirondack Loj

Miles Round trip = ~13.4

Total Elevation Gain = ~3,240 ft

Difficulty = Moderate/Strenuous

Peaks of Note = Mount Colden (4,715 ft)

Make it Easier = N/A

Make it Harder = Technical Ascent of the Trap Dyke via Avalanche Lake. Very Strenuous/Technical (4th Class Summer – WI2+ Winter), Add on additional mountains such as Marshall, or Cliff and Redfield.

 

Colden makes for a great long day hike. When done as a loop from the Adirondack Loj, including stops through Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden, this hike is a true High Peaks classic. The hike is long when done this way at just over 13 miles but does offer incredible views every step of the way. Also many of these miles are over relatively flat and mellow terrain which makes it feel easier overall. Beautiful views can be had from Colden’s false summit, but don’t be fooled when you get there as you still need to hike a bit further to the true summit!

 

Cliff and Redfield

Recommended Trailhead = Adirondack Loj

Miles Round trip = ~20

Total Elevation Gain = ~4,300 ft

Difficulty = Strenuous

Peaks of Note = Mount Redfield (4,606ft) Cliff Mountain (3,960ft)

Make it Easier = N/A

Make it Harder = Colden can be added to make for a very challenging day.

 

A substantial portion of the hiking for Cliff and Redfield are done on marked trails before reaching a shared herd path that leads to a junction for individual trails leading up both summits. The herd path up Redfield follows a beautiful flowing brook up to the wooded summit which does offer some nice partially obstructed views. The herd path up Cliff is shorter than the approach up Redfield but climbs steeply up imposing cliffs following the path of least resistance. The summit of Cliff is wooded and offers limited views but the adventurous hiking leading up the top does make up for it.

 

Whiteface and Esther

Recommended Trailhead = Atmospheric Science Research Center

Miles Round trip = ~10

Total Elevation Gain = ~3,900 ft

Difficulty = Moderate / Strenuous

Peaks of Note = Whiteface Mountain (4,867 ft) Esther Mountain (4,239 ft) Marble Mountain (2,753 ft)

Make it Easier = N/A

Make it Harder = You can take the slightly longer and steeper trail up Marble Mountain from Rt 431

 

Whiteface is reached by a marked, but relentlessly steep trail, and Esther is reach by an easy to follow herd path located near the top of the ridge. This pair of peaks is not incredibly hard and perhaps I have placed it too high on my list but having done it only in winter my memory may be skewed. The summit ridge is incredibly windy and can be challenging in bad winter weather. The summit of Whiteface offers beautiful views on a treeless summit. The summit also has a road leading to the summit which is accessible in the warmer months (closed in winter). Esther is a completely wooded summit and is quite boring to hike but it is a necessary trip for the aspiring 46er.

 

Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge

Recommended Trailhead = Roaring Brook Trailhead off Rt 73

Miles Round trip = ~8

Total Elevation Gain = ~4,280

Difficulty = Moderate / Strenuous

Peaks of Note = Giant Mountain (4,627 ft) Rocky Peak Ridge (4,420 ft)

Make it Easier = Do each peak individually.

Make it Harder = N/A

 

Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge are accessed by a shared marked trail located conveniently on Rt 73. Both peaks offer nice views from their summits in addition to beautiful views along the way. This is especially true on the way to the summit of Giant. A side trip to the base of Roaring Brook Falls or to the Giant’s Washbowl can be easily added and are certainly worth the extra effort. The main difficulty of this hike stems from having to descend and then ascend the steep col between Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge not once, but twice on this out and back hike. The trail is strenuous but otherwise in good shape and easy to follow.

 

Marcy

Recommended Trailhead = Adirondack Loj

Miles Round trip = ~15

Total Elevation Gain = ~3,500 ft

Difficulty = Moderate / Strenuous

Peaks of Note = Mount Marcy (5,344 ft)

Make it Easier = N/A

Make it Harder = Add any number of other High Peaks in the area. Phelps is a popular and logical choice to add, as well as Tabletop. (adding Skylight + Gray makes for a challenging day)

 

Marcy is the highest peak in the High Peaks and in New York as a whole, because of this Marcy is a very popular peak that everyone wants to have under their belt. Despite its status however it is not the most challenging High Peak to climb. It is still moderately difficult due to the fairly significant mileage but technically speaking it is a pretty easy hike. However, the views are great from the summit and it is a great introduction to some of the longer hikes that are necessary to climb other peaks as part of the 46er journey. You can expect to see hordes of people coming up and down Mt. Marcy on the weekends between May and October so offseason or weekday hikes are suggested if you are looking for a more peaceful experience.

 

Upper Wolf Jaw, Lower Wolf Jaw and Armstrong

Recommended Trailhead = The Garden, St Huberts, or Rooster Comb (Rt 73)

Miles Round trip = ~17.5 (Including Rooster Comb)

Total Elevation Gain = ~5,700 ft

Difficulty = Strenuous

Peaks of Note = Lower Wolf Jaw (4,175 ft), Upper Wolf Jaw (4,185 ft), Armstrong (4,400 ft), Rooster Comb (2,762 ft), Hedgehog (3,389 ft)

Make it Easier = Do Upper Wolfjaw and Armstrong as one hike and hike Lower Wolf Jaw separately.

Make it Harder = Add more peaks along the great range, lots of options.

 

Marshall

Recommended Trailhead = Adirondack Loj or Upperworks

Miles Round trip = ~15.5

Total Elevation Gain = ~3,500

Difficulty = Strenuous

Peaks of Note = Marshall (4,380 ft)

Make it Easier = N/A

Make it Harder = Add in additional peaks such as Colden, or Cliff and Redfield.

 

Perhaps the biggest debate when discussing Mt Marshall is about whether you should hike it from the Loj or from the Upper Works trailhead. Personally for me I prefer the hike from the Loj as it takes you through Avalanche Lake which is one of my very favorite places in the entire Adirondack State Park. However, the trail through Avalanche Lake is in some way mores rugged so it is possible some people may find this route a bit more challenging, but in terms of mileage both options are almost identical. The second hardest thing about getting to the summit of Mt Marshall is dealing with all of the criss crossing herd paths near the summit. Although the trail is generally easy to follow Mt Marshall is technically trailless so the paths are not officially marked. The best thing to keep in mind is to just follow the most worn trail you can, keep heading up, and keep in mind you will know when you hit the summit because there is a sign marking the top.

 

Skylight and Gray

Recommended Trailhead = Adirondack Loj

Miles Round trip = 15.8

Total Elevation Gain = 4,800 ft

Difficulty = Strenuous

Peaks of Note = Skylight (4,925 ft), Gray (4,826 ft)

Make it Easier = N/A

Make it Harder = Adding Mount Marcy (5,344 ft)

 

Sawteeth and Gothics

Recommended Trailhead = St Huberts via Lake Road

Miles Round trip = ~15

Total Elevation Gain = ~4,200

Difficulty = Strenuous

Peaks of Note = Sawteeth (4,150 ft), Gothics (4,734 ft), Pyramid Peak (4,515 ft)

Make it Easier = Do each mountain as a single hike, although this does not change the mileage significantly.

Make it Harder = Include additional peaks on the Great Range, lots of options!

 

Santanoni, Panther and Couchsachraga

Recommended Trailhead = Santanoni Road (Upper Works)

Miles Round trip = 15.5

Total Elevation Gain = 4,950 ft

Difficulty = Strenuous

Peaks of Note = Santanoni (4,606 ft), Panther (4,442 ft), Couchsachraga (3,793 ft)

Make it Easier = Can be done as an overnight trip.

Make it Harder = N/A

 

The Santanoni Range of peaks are generally speaking far from the most popular peaks High Peaks in the Adirondacks and for people doing their “46” they tend to be left for somewhere towards the end. I think that generally this has more to do with the fact they are so out of the way on the western end of the region in addition to having a reputation for being wet, rugged, and muddy. This assessment is not unearned but don’t let that deter you from hiking up these great peaks. Despite the downside Santanoni and Panther both offer great views at a pretty reasonable distance. Couchsachraga unfortunately is just about as miserable as everyone says with its endless bogs and mud pits. I would like to remain positive about the peak but there isn’t much more to be said in its defense other than it is an easy section of hiking in terms of distance and elevation gain. Sometimes the best strategy is to wait until the colder months when the ground freezes to traverse the muddy sections without any problem.

 

Allen

Recommended Trailhead = Mount Adams trailhead (Down the road from Upper Works)

Miles Round trip = ~18 miles

Total Elevation Gain = 3,850 ft

Difficulty = Strenuous

Peaks of Note = Allen 4,340 ft

Make it Easier = N/A

Make it Harder = N/A

 

Allen is usually listed as most peoples least favorite High Peak, but in my opinion is pretty unfair. Generally the biggest drawback about Allen is that it is very far out of the way and the easiest option to climb it requires an unavoidable 18 mile day. However, don’t let the high mileage scare you away. A large portion of the hike takes you over fire roads and easy trails which aside from being a little boring at times, are very pleasant to hike. The majority of the elevation gain comes at the very end of the hike up the infamous slide. There is a bit of slippery “red slime” low on the slide but otherwise it is pretty straight forward. The only other challenging part can be crossing the Opalescent River, which is near the beginning of the hike. The water crossing is no more than knee deep in regular conditions but it would be wise to avoid crossing during or after heavy rain storms when the river depth may rise significantly.

 

Algonquin, Iroquois and Wright

Recommended Trailhead = Adirondack Loj

Miles Round trip = ~12

Total Elevation Gain = ~4,350 ft

Difficulty = Strenuous / Very Strenuous

Peaks of Note = Algonquin (5,114 ft), Iroquois (4,840 ft), Wright (4,580 ft)

Make it Easier = Do each peak as an individual day hike.

Make it Harder = N/A

 

Dix, Hough Peak, South Dix, Grace Peak (East Dix) and Macomb

AKA “The Dix Range”

Recommended Trailhead = Elk Lake

Miles Round trip = ~17

Total Elevation Gain = ~5,000

Difficulty = Very Strenuous

Peaks of Note = Dix (4,840 ft), Hough Peak (4,409 ft), South Dix (4,068 ft), Grace Peak (East Dix) (4,026 ft), and Macomb (4,390 ft)

Make it Easier = You can split up the hike into two seperate trips: Dix + (Hough Peak, South Dix, Grace Peak (East Dix), and Macomb), or any other combination you prefer.

Make it Harder = N/A

 

Haystack, Saddleback and Basin

Recommended Trailhead = The Garden

Miles Round trip = ~19

Total Elevation Gain = 5,600 ft

Difficulty = Very Strenuous

Peaks of Note = Haystack (), Saddleback (), Basin ()

Make it Easier = Do each peak individually or split them up into (Haystack) or (Saddleback + Basin)

Make it Harder = Add Gothics or Make it way harder and do the entire Great Range Traverse!

 

Nippletop, Dial, Colvin and Blake

Recommended Trailhead = St. Huberts to Lake Road

Miles Round trip = ~19

Total Elevation Gain = 6,000 ft

Difficulty = Very Strenuous

Peaks of Note = Nippletop (4,610 ft), Dial (4,003 ft), Colvin (4,081 ft) and Blake (3,970 ft)

Make it Easier = Do Nippletop+Dial or Colvin+Blake as individual trips.

Make it Harder = N/A

 

Seward, Seymour, Donaldson and Emmons

Recommended Trailhead = Corey Road

Miles Round trip = ~22

Total Elevation Gain =5,500 ft

Difficulty = Very Strenuous

Peaks of Note = Seymour, Seward, Donaldson, Emmons

Make it Easier = Split the hike into two day trips or an overnight weekend. (Seymour)+(Seward, Donaldson, and Emmons)

Make it Harder = N/A

(NOTE: Main road to the trailhead is closed in winter adding several miles to the overall trip.)

 

The reason I listed these last probably has more to do with my personal experience hiking all four peaks in one hot and humid summer day but by any measure all four in a day is not an easy hike. Splitting them up would make the hike significantly easier but still a fairly long day out. Despite the difficulty,the quiet seclusion of these peaks make them a great choice for people looking to get away from the crowds in the Great Range. The only downside is the peaks generally have wooded summits and the overall views are not as great as on other peaks.