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sparklerbc 07-17-2019 10:30 AM

seeking suggestions for a trip
thanks in advance for help and suggestions

I'm soon going to likely be taking a first time hiking trip to the Adirondacks. I am an experienced hiker, have done most of the AT hiked in the whites, out west some, etc, but have never been to the Adirondacks.

I'm looking to plan a 3 day hike, maybe about 10 miles on Day 1, about 15-18 on Day 2 and then about 10 again on Day 3, though I'm not opposed to that getting up towards 15 if it seems worthwhile.

I'd like to hit Mt Marcy and lake tear of the clouds. I don't need to strictly do a loop, but hiking 15 miles in one direction only to about face and hike those same 15 miles back the other way isn't anything I'm especially interested in. It would be cool to maybe hit another high peak or two, but I'm not much for bushwhacking and I understand that can be involved in getting to a number of them.

Any suggestions?


TCD 07-17-2019 01:23 PM

Some general advice:

>Trails are pretty tough here; you might want to scale back the mileage a bit.

>Pick up the ADK Guidebook to the High Peaks:

Good detailed book, the definitive resource for what you want to do.

>Get this map:

(DO NOT buy the inferior Nat Geo map that ADK pushes. Tony's updated map is superior for several reasons.)

>Spend an evening studying the guidebook and map (yes, look at paper documents!). This will answer almost all your questions about hiking in the area.

Specific advice:

>Marcy and Lake Tear are cool destinations. Easy to pick up nearby peaks with marked include Haystack, Skylight, Colden.

>Determine where you want to park and start/finish. Choices of trails, destinations, campsites etc. are dependent on where you want to park.

>Educate yourself on the current parking disaster being promulgated by NY State, and plan accordingly.

>If you decide to add several peaks, REALLY scale back the miles. Unlike the AT, where you are rolling along a ridge, here you often go way down (1000+') and then back up. Tough going with a camping pack.

>Consider the "basecamp and day hike" model. Most folks don't like to carry the camp up to the summits.

>Once you have a few choices of itinerary, then check back here and at ADKHighPeaks (the sister forum that is more specific to where you are going) and people will be able to give lots of current and specific advice.

Good luck and have fun!

sparklerbc 07-17-2019 02:21 PM

bummer, i already bought the natgeo map. i dont like their maps in general, i probably should have spent some time looking for a better one. oh well.

where i park is flexible. i'd rather park to suit the hike than hike to suit where i park.

the mileage i am pondering is scaled back. i generally do in the neighborhood of 20 MPD in the terrain you are picturing. i think the best frame of reference would be the whites. if the ADKs are as hard as the whites then i'd be aiming for the lower end of what i am thinking, but not significantly below it.

i'm not opposed to basecamp scenario, but I would want the basecamp to be in the backcountry and i dont know how much i love the idea of leaving the things i need to spend a night in the woods alone all day and then returning to them in the evening hoping theyre still there. i'm sure people do it, not sure its something i want to do on this trip.

any specific other peaks near Marcy I should look for on the map?

DSettahr 07-18-2019 12:50 AM

A few other things to be aware of since you are targeting the High Peaks. Most of these have to do with necessary ethical/regulatory considerations due to the extreme high levels of use (and associated impacts) the area receives:

Bear canisters are required for overnight food storage in the Eastern High Peaks (which includes Mt. Marcy and a significant portion of the surrounding area). Nuisance bear activity has been a frequent problem here due to improper food management by campers- and bears have been causing problems in the Eastern High Peaks within the past week or so. If you don't have a bear canister, you can rent one at one of several local businesses (The Mountaineer in Keene, the High Peaks Information Center at the Adirondak Loj, etc.). It is strongly recommended that you avoid the BearVault brand canisters as these have failed in the High Peaks in the past even when properly used.

It's also important that you use the bear canister properly- do not leave the canister open, even when you're actively cooking/eating (they've learned to wait until the canister is open before making an appearance). When it comes time to cook, open the canister, take out only the food that you need for that specific meal, and then immediately reseal the canister. Cook early (if you can have dinner over with by 5 pm you'll likely avoid the worst of the nuisance behavior), and cook away from your campsite (as well as any other nearby campsites). Remember that all smellables must be stored in the canister- this includes toiletries and trash as well as alcohol.

Carrying (and using the canister) is essential- a lot of backpackers mistakenly think that the worst consequence of a bear getting their food is that they are out a meal or two. The reality is that every time a bear obtains human food, it serves as a reward that only encourages increasingly aggressive behavior in the future- to the point that a bear could potentially become violent and attack humans. The DEC unfortunately has to put these bears down before a human gets injured. Last year, the DEC had to put 15 bears down across the entire Adirondack Park due to unnaturally aggressive behavior. Hence the phrase, "a fed bear is a dead bear."

(Side note: Starting next year, bear canisters will be required across the entire High Peaks Wilderness, not just the Eastern High Peaks.)

The second thing to be aware of is that campfires are not permitted in the Eastern High Peaks. The reason for this is that there literally is not enough dead and downed wood to sustain campfires for all visitors to the area- and back when fires were still permitted there was a major problem with illegal cutting of standing trees because there were no ready supplies of fuelwood on the ground. The fire ban has probably been the single most beneficial act in recent history as far as protecting the natural character of the High Peaks- the forest around popular backcountry campsites has rebounded amazingly in the ~20 years or so since fires were banned. The fire ban includes twig-burning stoves, but gas and alcohol powered stoves are permitted.

The third factor that is important to consider in planning your trip is that camping is permitted only below 4,000 feet (and between 3,500 and 4,000 feet you can camp at designated sites only). This is due to the fragile nature of the alpine ecosystem, as the soils and plants that grow up high in the Adirondacks do not withstand camping impacts very well at all. In the alpine zone especially, a single wayward footstep off trail can cause damage to alpine vegetation that can take decades (and quite possibly even a century or more) to recover from. Also, even in areas where you can dispersed camp (below 3,500 feet), keep in mind that NY is a bit more strict about site selection than many other areas- your tent site must either be an officially designated one (marked with a yellow plastic disc that says "Camp Here"), or if you're selecting your own site it must be at least 150 feet from any roads, trails, or water sources.

You can view a list of the most relevant hiking and camping regulations on the DEC's website. Note also that the High Peaks Wilderness has additional regulations that apply.

Be aware also that some High Peaks are accessed via un-marked "herd paths." These paths are generally easy to follow, but there are no trail markers and the junctions are also often unmarked. You'll need to do your research in advance to figure out which peaks fit into these category, and if you do decide to climb some of them, you'll want to be prepared for a somewhat increased navigational challenge that will require more map and compass skill on your part, as well as more research on the route in advance.

Regarding unattended gear left behind at campsites during the day: Backcountry theft does happen but it's super rare. I've logged over 1,000 nights in the backcountry in my lifetime (the vast majority of it in the Adirondacks), and I've only twice ever had someone mess with my stuff (both times with my bear hang, and only one of those times was anything actually stolen- the rope I used for the hang was taken, as well as a single apple out of my food bag). You definitely don't want to leave anything small and particularly valuable like your wallet, phone, camera, etc. (at least not out and in plain sight). But generally speaking, I wouldn't worry too much about leaving a tent set up during the day (or even a sleeping bag/pad in a lean-to).

I don't have the same hatred for the National Geographic maps that some do, but I agree that the ADK High Peaks map is worth picking up even though you already own the National Geographic High Peaks Map. The biggest advantage to the ADK map is that it shows the location of many of the designated tent sites in the High Peaks region, which makes trip planning a bit easier as you can see what your options for tenting are if/when the lean-tos are full.

I agree with TCD- ~20 mile days with a full overnight pack in the High Peaks is a lot, even for someone in decent hiking shape. I think you'd be wise to scale back your ambitions a bit. If you do decide to consider base camping, Marcy Dam, Lake Colden, and the Johns Brook Valley make for great base camping spots that each provide access to more peaks each than you could hope to hit over 3 days. (With Johns Brook, you'll need to be aware of the current parking situation concerning the Garden, however.) If you do want more of a traverse, the Great Range can make for both an incredibly rugged and an awesomely spectacular backpacking trip over 3 days.

Alternatively, you could consider destinations elsewhere in the Adirondacks. The High Peaks region constitutes only about 10% of the Adirondack Park by land area, and 20% of the recreational opportunities within the Adirondacks by trail length. There's a ton of other opportunities out there, many of which are passed over by the hyper-focused High Peaks crowd (their loss). These areas also often receive less use than the High Peaks- meaning that solitude is a bit easier to come by. With 40-45 miles to play with you could do a good chunk of the Northville-Placid Trail (although you'd need to arrange a shuttle). You could also give the Cranberry Lake 50 a shot- it's a 50 mile loop trail around Cranberry Lake, through relatively flat terrain where it's not hard to rack up big miles over consecutive days if you're in a good hiking shape.

I hope this is helpful. Good luck!

sparklerbc 07-18-2019 06:39 AM

thanks, I have been reading on regs- bear canister, camping, no fires (i never make them anyway) the bear canister thing will be new to me but not a problem. parking is starting to concern me though, since i'll probably arrive around noon-1pm on a saturday.

as for mileage.... yeah 20 mile dayS (as in several in a row) is probably too much. one single 18 mile or so day though? again, with the whites as the frame of reference, i don't think thats beyond my ability.

what is probably beyond my comfort level is map and compassing my way down unmarked trails of any notable length, probably save that for next trip.

i'll check out the great range. it also occurs to me thinking this idea of using a basecamp through more that i'd probably rather hit only two peaks that aren't right next to each other than 3 or 4 that are. like marcy plus one 5-6 miles away maybe.

sparklerbc 07-22-2019 09:38 AM

so try to plan something more specific and i'm running into a problem.

the great range caught my attention, and ordinarily this would seem to be a simple hike and definitely doable in the time i have available, but this bridge closure thing....

i'd start at rooster comb and ideally end at the garden. so once i get to the garden is there really no way to walk back to rooster comb on the road at present? can the brook be forded anywhere, or rock hopped? is the statement that pedestrians cant use the bridge not really 100% true? if the shuttle buses are, presumably, crossing the bridge is it not possible for a pedestrian to run across? it looks like a very short bridge over a not huge (but deep maybe?) brook.

so then i looked at just existing on the other side of the range.... but apparently thats semi-private land and they dont allow dogs (my dog will be with me) so thats out.

would the shuttle bus allow me on with a dog? and even if it did, would it drop me somewhere other than marcy field? i wouldnt want to ride the shuttle all the way to marcy field and then walk all the way back to rooster comb.

other otpion is just approaching marcy from the other side, seems less interesting but probably much less of a headache.

AvalanchePass 07-22-2019 02:14 PM

The shuttle will drop you at Rooster Comb parking.

DSettahr 07-22-2019 02:19 PM

The issue with the Garden access as I understand it:

There is a bridge on the public road to the Garden that is being replaced. There is a detour in place, but said detour follows a private road on private property. The property owners have given permission for the shuttle bus to use the detour on their private road, but that is it- there's no other public access (by car, on foot, or otherwise).

So it's not an issue of whether you can physically (safely) access the road- but rather that by doing so by any means other than the shuttle bus, you'd be trespassing.

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sparklerbc 07-22-2019 03:44 PM

got it. thats good about them being willing to drop off at rooster comb. i'd be happy with a drop off even at main road before they turn the wrong direction.

does anyone know if dogs can be on the shuttle? or even who to call and ask? there seems to be no contact info online at any websites about it i can see.

and theres no way of crossing the brook (without trespassing) by rock hopping or fording anywhere reasonable?

DSettahr 07-22-2019 04:20 PM

I don't know 100% for sure, but I feel like if dogs weren't permitted on the shuttle, there'd be frequent social media posts by... certain dog owners complaining about the "unfair" policy and how they are "persecuted against" and how their dog should be an exception because "my furbaby is perfect, they even know to stay on the rocks above treeline which is why I don't need to keep them on a leash."

Given the absence of any posts of this kind, it say it's fair to say that dogs are probably allowed on the shuttle. :-)

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sparklerbc 07-22-2019 04:47 PM

haha that seems fair, but i wouldnt want to finish the hike at the garden and get turned away.

maybe if i cant find anyine to contact i will just park at marcy field, ask to get dropped off at rooster comb (if they let me and the dog on) and then i know for sure being picked up at the garden will be ok, barring a different bus driver who thinks the rules are different showing up.

and i'll have a plan B in acse they say no to the dog.

best would be to speak to someone first. i guess i can just call the town and start there

TCD 07-22-2019 05:57 PM

I have seen dogs on the shuttle in years past, but you are doing the right thing by calling the town and asking.

Garden Access details are all spelled out here:

The Great Range is wonderful terrain, but it's tough hiking on a mostly dry ridge. Make sure to plan your water appropriately. Search for many threads with extensive detail on that area.

Yes, the "other side" of the range (the SE side) is Private Land (there's no such thing as semi-private land). It's the land of the AMR (Adirondack Mountain Reserve) and dogs are STRICTLY banned, as it's considered a wildlife preserve.

If you are staying a couple nights, another option might be to enter and exit via Klondike Notch trail from the South Meadow parking.

sparklerbc 07-22-2019 06:03 PM

well by "semi-private" i just mean anyone can enter and exit without explicitly getting permission. as opposed to, for instance, the "private property" that you aren't allowed to sue to cross the brook... there really needs to be two different terms for these things.

i'll look into that other trailhead, thanks.

sparklerbc 07-22-2019 06:08 PM

also, give my exact schedule, hiking the range in one continuous go is likely out. seems i'll have to drop off the ridge at some point to camp on night #1. that'll help with the water issue too.

since im dropping off anyway i may just head up the other side of the valley and approach marcy that way and then loop back around, if it feels like i have time.

sparklerbc 07-24-2019 09:55 AM

spoke to the town, they confirmed dogs are ok on the shuttle and they will drop off at rooster comb.

DSettahr 07-24-2019 07:40 PM

"Conservation easement" is the phrase you're looking for- because that's exactly what the AMR is. The State purchased some of the rights to the AMR lands from the Ausable Club years ago (including development rights as well as the right for the public to access certain designated trails).

And yes, it's basically a given that if you're overnighting while doing a Great Range traverse, you'll have to drop down off the ridge to camp (except for the Snobird tent sites, these are located along the Great Range Trail). Again, this is a good reason for picking up the ADK High Peaks Map- it shows the locations of designated tent sites and is fairly accurate in doing so.

A quick summary of your tenting options:

On the west side of the Upper/Lower Wolfjaws col, you've got the Wolfjaws Lean-to and at least 1 designated tent site. Note that this lean-to has been relocated recently- it's no longer uphill of the junction between Trails 4 and 6, but downhill some distance along Trail 4.

On the east side of the Upper/Lower Wolfjaws col, there is a single designated tent site on Wedge Brook.

North of the Gothics/Saddleback col, there's the lean-to and tent site on Ore Bed Brook.

The Snobird tent sites are located directly along the Great Range Trail between Basin and Haystack- there's 2 designated tent sites here and a fairly reliable water source nearby.

North of the Haystack/Marcy col is the Slant Rock lean-to, with 4 tent sites in the vicinity.

When I did the GRT, I started and ended at the Garden. Yes, this meant that I missed Rooster Comb and Hedgehog Mountain, but it made the logistics a lot easier (and neither of those peaks are High Peaks anyways, so there is some debate as to whether they comprise an integral part of the Great Range or not). I hiked into Johns Brook and then up to the Wolfjaws Lean-to, where I camped for night #1. The next day, I climbed Lower Wolfjaw, Upper Wolfjaw, Armstrong, Gothics, Saddleback, and Basin in order, then camped at the Snobird tent site for night #2. On the third day, I climbed Haystack and then Marcy, then hiked back out to the Garden by way of Slant Rock.

Day #2 (with 6 consecutive High Peaks) was particularly challenging, but it was doable with a relatively light overnight pack, an early start, and a steady pace throughout the day. The one thing I will say is that hiking the Great Range trail "uphill" (north to south) means that you end up descending the Saddleback cliffs- and this can be a bit of a technical challenge with a full overnight pack (even a relatively lightweight one).

sparklerbc 07-25-2019 06:10 PM

I definitely am going to pick up the better map. i should have known better than to buy a nat geo map but i was in shopping on amazon mode and thats all i could find.

i'm sure the map will tell me, but i'm especially curious if theres legal camping if i were to walk over towards sawteeth.

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