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Old 05-12-2016, 03:10 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2014
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Pros and cons of which way to hike colvin/blake/dial/nippletop

I'm planning the colvin range and dial/nippletop as a day hike starting off early in the day. I just wanted to ask anyone who as done that trip which way they would prefer that hike?

I've heard the elk pass to nippletop is brutal, so going down then hiking back up the colvin range can be tough. But also heard the opposite going up after hiking the range....

I know it may be subjective, just looking for ideas


Last edited by brifle; 05-12-2016 at 03:55 PM.. Reason: spelling
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Old 05-12-2016, 05:12 PM   #2
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Whichever way you do it, it will be a very long day.

I've done that 3 times, and personally I find climbing easier than descending, so lean towards Colvin/Blake then Nippletop/Dial. When I did it with my daughter though, she thought I was crazy that I wanted to climb Elk Pass so we did Dial first and she was bouncing down Elk Pass while I was gingerly picking my way.

If you can manage a car shuttle, start from Elk Lake and head north to Blake first and out on Rt 73. I've never done that before, have wanted to for a while.
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Old 05-12-2016, 10:46 PM   #3
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I'm with rdl. I'd rather get the Colvin/Blake part done first, some of it is steep and rough, and get up to Nippletop. After those, you could glide down past Dial & the Noonmark shoulder. But the idea of a traverse is interesting. I can't say about that; I've never been from Blake down to Elk Lake.
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Old 05-12-2016, 10:57 PM   #4
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I'm tending to agree with you guys. It may be quicker to descend, but harder on your knees, especially if you have quite the distance to go. (those long hike outs are brutal sometimes)

That is very interesting point rdl. I'd like to see the difference in mileage between the two.
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Old 05-13-2016, 01:55 AM   #5
That was fun
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If you enjoy views and photographs, you may benefit from selecting the direction based on the conditions as you are walking up the Lake Road:

* If the sky is clear or the cloud ceiling is high, head up the Leach Trail towards Dial so you ascend early and take in the scenery while views are available;

* If conditions aren't view-friendly, continue up the road and inward towards Colvin/Blake/ElkPass so you can cover distance lower down, and hope the sky clears before you ascend.

Doing the loop in either direction involves significant elevation gain/loss and numerous steep sections, so you're in for a good workout. Having done the loop a half dozen times in each direction I consider the opportunity to enjoy scenery as more beneficial to the hiking experience than the differences in elevation profile.

Enjoy the walk.
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Old 05-16-2016, 03:04 PM   #6
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Location: New England
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I, too, would recommend doing Colvin & Blake first for the same reasons that others have mentioned. It's easier to go up steeps than down them. You get the up & downs done in the first part of the day & the back half is basically a long, slow descent—though not without its ups & downs.

While I have not done the Dial>Nippletop>Colvin>Blake>Pinnacle Ridge Traverse to Elk Lake, I have traversed from Blake to the South end of Pinnacle Ridge a couple of times. I highly recommend it. Be forewarned though, it is a rugged little ridge, with a number of steep climbs and descents. Taking the spur out to the Pinnacle at the South end of the ridge is an absolute must, if you're in the area.
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Old 07-24-2016, 11:19 PM   #7
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Guess I'm late to the party but was thinking of doing this trip and am finding these suggestions very helpful - I too prefer going up rock walls rather than down them. One thing - is Pinnacle Ridge super worth seeing? If so, we may rather split this into two trips and save pinnacle for another time. (I don't doubt it is nice, but not being local, should it be a priority on top of the 46?) We will be arriving mid afternoon from out of state, heading in via Lake Rd and camping on the Gill Brook trail to tackle the mountains the next day.
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Old 07-26-2016, 02:02 PM   #8
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There is a little bit of a view over Elk Lake from the Pinnacle, and some better views from elsewhere on the ridge. Not the greatest views to be had in the High Peaks, but somewhat unique. The ridge itself is a long, lonely walk with numerous ups and downs that gets relatively little use, and you're not likely to see many (or even any) other hikers after you leave the summit of Blake. To add the Pinnacle on top of Colvin and Blake as an out and back would be a very a long day- you might consider spotting a second car at Elk Lake and doing it as a through hike instead.
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Old 07-28-2016, 11:31 AM   #9
Join Date: May 2014
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well, contrary to my better judgement, I went with what my wife thought would be the best way and did dial/ nippletop first I think colvin and blake afterwards was some of the toughest climbing I've done in awhile just because that descent from nippletop was so steep it just exhausted me.

I'll listen to myself more during my winter 46

thanks everyone
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