Skylight is the peak with one of the most impressive views, boasting a sighting of over 30 other High Peaks. This completely bald rock dome is very impressive when seen from other regions of the High Peaks.
How to get there
Hikers can either start in Lake Placid at the HPIC or in Newcomb at Upper Works.
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. From here, you can follow the marked trail to Flowed Lands, eventually picking up the herd path to Mount Marshall.
UPPER WORKS PARKING UPDATE
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 be closed for construction. 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.
There is an alternative route leaving from the HPIC. From exit 29 off I-87, follow the highway north to exit 30. Follow Route 73 from here toward Lake Placid. Stay on Route 73 for just over 26 miles. Turn left onto Adirondack Loj Road. Follow Adirondack Loj Road to its end at Heart Lake and park in the main parking lot. Small parking fees will be required. ($10 as of 2013)
By the numbers
- Elevation: 4,926 feet
- Elevation gain: 578 feet from the Four Corners intersection (this number excludes elevation gained during the approach). If approaching Skylight from Marcy, the elevation gained from climbing Marcy is 3,166 feet, minus the descent off Marcy plus the 578 feet up Skylight.
- Distance: Depends on trail taken. Please see below. From the intersection at Four Corners it is 0.5 miles to the summit.
- Skylight is High Peak #4
- Follow Leave No Trace principles
This peak is often climbed with in conjunction with Mount Marcy and Gray Peak. Historically, Skylight has been home to a superstitious legend. On the summit you may see the rather enormous rock pile that hikers have built. As the legend went, if you didn't bring a rock to the summit and lay it upon its head, it will surely rain. Naturally, over the years, thousands of rocks have accumulated on the summit. Adirondack Mountain Club is asking that people stop carrying rocks to the summit as it can damage alpine vegetation and create hazards for hikers and the Summit Stewards.
Below is a brief descriptions of the shortest route. We recommend you pick up a guide book for more in depth detail of the other approaches. Skylight is commonly done as a loop with either an approach or return over Mt. Marcy.
From Upper Works ...
From Upper Works follow the trail to Flowed Lands and Lake Colden, which isn’t all that demanding and can be accomplished relatively fast. After reaching the lakes, the hike becomes more demanding. From the dam hike along the Opalescent River and continue on the trail past the Uphill Lean-to and the intersection for Feldspar. The climb remains steady and eventually you will come to Lake Tear of the Clouds. You will hike near the shore of the lake and end up at Four-Corners, a major intersection on the south side of Marcy. (Trail left here is the return over Marcy.) At this point take a right and climb up the shoulder of Skylight. This section tends to be a bit wet and slippery in spots. This final approach is the steepest section of the entire hike.
Distance: 10.3 miles, one way
From HPIC ...
This route requires hikers climb Mount Marcy and then descent down the backside to Four Corners. Please consult a map and guideline for information on how to access Mount Marcy. From the summit of Marcy, you will descent off the south side toward Four Corners and go over Schofield Cobble. The descent is fast and somewhat steep. It is 0.8 miles to the intersection; head straight across to access Mount Skylight.
Distance: 7.4 miles to the summit of Marcy, then 0.8 miles to Four Corners, then 0.5 miles to Skylight summit. Total: 8.7 miles.
Do not attempt to cross Flowed Lands unless the conditions warrant. Remember, ice can be unpredictable and variable. The summit of Skylight can be very windy with arctic temperatures and severe wind chill. Be sure you are prepared for this exposure on the bald summit. Once the trees get very short the trail can disappear under windblown and deep snow conditions, make your way to the summit by following carins but be sure to know where the trail is for the descent.