Gray Peak is the tallest of the trailless High Peaks and has an act of putting on two totally different faces depending on the season. In summer, it is slightly treed with stunted growth; in winter the trees are buried and it resembles that of a bald summit.
How to get there
From exit 29 off I-87, turn west onto Blue Ridge Road (CR 84) toward Newcomb. Follow this route for 17.4 miles to an intersection with Tahawus Road (CR 25). Turn right on Tahawus Road and stay on it for 6.3 miles then turn left at a sign for High Peaks trails. Pass by the old blast furnace at 2.8 miles up this road. From the blast furnace, it is less than one mile to your destination. The road dead ends at the Upper Works parking lot.
There is an alternative start point from the Adirondack Loj.
By the numbers
- Elevation: 4,480 feet
- Elevation gain from Lake Tear of the Clouds: about 500 feet
- Gray Peak is High Peak #7
Gray sits right off the west shoulder of Mount Marcy, giving it outstanding views of its big sister. Gray Peak can be approached from several different directions, but the shortest approach is the one described below. There are great camping opportunities at Uphill and Feldspar lean-tos if you wanted to make a weekend of the hike.
Gray is often climbed in conjunction with Mount Marcy and Mount Skylight by climbing up over the summit of Marcy and descending to Four Corners.
From Upper Works follow the trail to Flowed Lands and Lake Colden which isn’t all that demanding and can be accomplished relatively fast. The trails around Flowed Lands and Lake Colden have ups and downs, which will slow you down a little as you climb over boulders and admire the scenery.
Heavy winds, ice conditions along the steep section, white-outs, obscured trail due to snow drifts, and spruce traps: all of these conditions can be witnessed and should be prepared for.
If attempting this climb from Marcy, it is good to be prepared for arctic conditions as you will spend time above tree line. You will have no shelter or protection from the elements here. Follow the herd-path up Gray, which can be challenging to locate in good conditions. Snow drifts and a windblown trail cover most of the course of the herd path. When off the trail you will notice the softness of the snow and the potential for spruce traps are high.
A spruce trap is where snow covers the branches of the spruce and balsam trees but does not get under the branches. This void causes the snow to collapse under your weight causing you to fall to the depth of the snow which can be upwards of 6-feet. The traps are very hard to get out of and the aid of your fellow climbers is sometimes essential.