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Summit Rock and Indian Pass is of historical significance for the Adirondack Park and was the key passageway to the discovery of the Tahawus Mine in the Upper Works Region. While the lower portions of this hike, from either direction, are easy to moderate, the upper reaches of the pass can be very difficult and somewhat overwhelming to some. Plan most of your day to be spent exploring this area and bring your camera. Plan a car spot on both sides and hike through from Newcomb to Lake Placid for an extended hike with many rewards.

Getting there

Adirondack Loj Trailhead: From the intersection of Route 73 and Route 86 follow Route 73 toward Keene. Continue to Adirondack Loj Road on the right, follow here to the end, and park. ($10 per day parking fee as of 2019.)

Upper Works Trailhead: Our friends at Open Space Institute have announced that effective June 18, 2021, please use the new parking lot adjacent to the MacNaughton Cottage. The old parking lot (terminus of Upper Works Road) will is closed. Unauthorized vehicles in the old parking lot after June 18, 2021 will be towed away at vehicle owners expense. Signage has been placed throughout the old parking lot. They, and we, do not want any surprises for anyone. Thank you and Happy trails! This new parking will not add significant milage to your trip. 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.

By the numbers

  • Distance: approx. 12-miles round trip
  • Elevation of summit rock: 2,880-feet
  • Ascent from Adirondack Loj: 703-feet

Hiking

This 4.5 mile, one way, hike is over easy to difficult terrain. From the trailhead, start your hike along a gravel road and cross the bridge over the Hudson River. Just past the Hudson River there is a left, avoid this left and continue straight. In another 0.2 miles or so there will be another left, follow this left toward Duck Hole and Indian Pass.

This next section of trail continues to follow an old carriage road though an attractive forest as it parallels Henderson Lake, though the lake itself is not in view. The old road is very muddy in several locations. As the trail climbs moderately you will come to an old clearing before you descend for a while to where you can get a visual of Henderson Lake to your left. Soon after there will be another trail breaking off to the left over a bridge, heading to Duck Hole. Do not follow here; continue straight.

Heading straight you will contend with more settled mud and pass by Henderson lean-to on the hill to your right. Not far after this point another left will appear, take this left toward Indian Pass. This trail will lead over a bridge that crosses Indian Pass Brook and lead you through an open forest back to the brook at Wallface lean-to at 2.7 mi, slightly out of sight to your left.

Passing through the abandoned lean-to site the trail remains relatively flat as it parallels the brook. You will have several wet areas and mud is frequent. Eventually you will cross Indian Pass Brook and start an aggressive climb into the pass.

From this point expect large boulders, some the size of 2-story buildings. You will pass through these and over some of the small ones. The air will feel much cooler in here and everything will be damp to the touch. There are also three ladders along this section as you approach summit rock and fourth ladder to top out on Summit Rock itself. This region within the pass is very slippery and sees much less sun, keeping everything a bit wet and slick. Use caution and care on the steep slopes and especially the ladders and even more caution on the descent.

Give thanks to the trail builders who help you through the tricky bits.
Give thanks to the trail builders who help you through the tricky bits.
Part of the appeal of Indian Pass are the stunning rock formations.
Part of the appeal of Indian Pass are the stunning rock formations.
Wallface is a popular rock climbing destination.
Wallface is a popular rock climbing destination.
More rocky cliffs which have climbing routes.
More rocky cliffs which have climbing routes.
Can you say glacial errata? This trail has lots of it.
Can you say glacial errata? This trail has lots of it.
Still plenty of rock scrambles for trail fans.
Still plenty of rock scrambles for trail fans.
Here's another easy route up.
Here's another easy route up.
A wooded summit letting you see a bird's eye view.
A wooded summit letting you see a bird's eye view.

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