Colvin was named after Verplank Colvin, the great surveyor of the Adirondack Park. Colvin is often climbed with Blake Peak – due to it being along the same ridge and located conveniently behind Colvin.
This hike is accessed through a conservation easement with the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR). A parking reservation is needed from May 1 - October 31. Although it is called a “parking reservation,” everyone will need a reservation to access hikes leaving from AMR, whether you drove yourself, rode a bike, got dropped-off, or walked. These reservations can be made online via the AMR website. For more information, please read these FAQs or contact the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
How to get there
There are two approaches to Mount Colvin, but one is seldom used and adds a lot of milage.
The primary route leave from the AMR. Leave Lake Placid on Rte 73, follow Rte 73 through Keene and Keene Valley and into Saint Huberts. Parking is across the road from the Roaring Brook Falls Trailhead for Giant Mountain. This approach is on private land owned by the Adirondack Mountain Reserve. Access is guaranteed by virtue of easements, but dogs are absolutely prohibited in this preserve.
The secondary route leaves from Elk Lake. Leave Lake Placid following Rte 73 to Interstate 87. Get off at exit 29 and follow the Blue Ridge Road toward Newcomb. Look for Elk Lake Road on the right in about 4-5 miles; follow it to its end.
By the numbers
- Elevation: 4,507 feet
- Colvin is High Peak #39
- Footpath distance and elevation gain depends on the trail taken. See descriptions below.
- Follow Leave No Trace principles
Colvin has two distinctive trails to the summit, where only one is typically used. It offers outstanding views of the Ausable Lakes as well as the Great Range.
Below are brief descriptions of the two routes, we recommend you pick up a guide book for more in depth detail or hire a local guide to assist you.
The primary route is a 12.5 mile roundtrip hike with mixed terrain. The hike starts along a dirt road the becomes paved next to a golf course. At 0.5 miles turn left and down between two tennis courts on Lake Road Way to the entrance station and register at 0.6 mi. from the parking area. Beyond is a wooden gate, where you will continue along a dirt road for an additional 2.5 miles before you enter a foot trail. The foot trail starts off very moderate but continues to get steeper in sections. The final approach to Mount Colvin gets very steep and it helps to have a bit of a boost or hand from a friend. After taking the winning views from Colvin you can work your way along the ridge and descend steeply into the col with Blake.
The secondary route is a 21.0 mile roundtrip hike with a moderate to steep ascent. Starting along the trail to Panther Gorge and Mount Marcy you will drop to cross The Branch before starting a flat approach to the beginning of a wet hike to the shoulder of the Pinnacle Ridge and then drop slightly to the Pinnacle Ridge Trail. From this point the trail is very demanding and encompasses several smaller peaks with no official names. There is a spur trail to the summit of Pinnacle, which is recommended for outstanding views. Blake will be at the end of the ridge.
From Blake you drop down very steeply through a highly eroded area where footing is difficult. From the col you will pass the third trail outlined below and then start an equally steep ascent up Colvin. There are a couple excellent viewing areas along the ridge to enjoy along the way. It is recommended to continue the traverse over Colvin and out to the AMR and a second car, unless an overnight is planned this round-trip outing would be too demanding for most hikers.
Snowshoeing Colvin in winter is a serious endeavor that should only be attempted after tackling a few of the area's smaller mountains. Snowshoes are required and will suffice on the generally well-packed trail. Expect a significant drop in temperature as elevation is gained, and be prepared for strong winds on the open summit ledge. Always bring extra layers, especially for higher elevations, and don't hesitate to turn around if the weather starts to turn.
A hike from Elk Lake to Colvin will likely be unbroken in winter, as this route is not frequently used, especially in winter.