On the southwest slope of Mount Marcy sits Lake Tear of the Clouds. It's famous for many reasons, including its role in a presidency.
On September 14, 1901, then-US Vice President Teddy Roosevelt was at Lake Tear of the Clouds after returning from a hike to Mount Marcy. While there, he received a message informing him that President William McKinley had taken a turn for the worse after being shot two weeks earlier. McKinley was originally expected to survive the gunshot. Roosevelt hiked from Lake Tear of the Clouds back down to Tahawus where he began his infamous 40-mile midnight stage coach ride to the railroad station in North Creek. It was in North Creek that Roosevelt learned McKinley had died and on the train to Buffalo, Roosevelt was sworn in as President.
Lake Tear of the Clouds is also cited as the source of the Hudson River, which begins its 315-mile journey to New York City in the Adirondack Mountains.
Mount Adams is a serious climb but for those who tackle it, the views and the hike are very rewarding. The summit features at 47-foot steel fire tower, used in its heyday as a tool in the forest fire prevention effort by New York State. It is no longer used to detect fires, but makes for a fine hiking destination.
How to get there
Follow I-87 north for to the North Hudson Exit, #29. From here follow Boreas Road west toward Newcomb. Continue nearly 18 miles to Tahawus Road on your right. Continue on Tahawus Road for 6.5 miles. Here you will reach a bridge over the Hudson River on your right. Stay left on Upper Works Road. You will pass by the McIntyre Blast Furance and the Santanoni trailhead before arriving at your destination 3.0 miles from the intersection of Tahawus and Upper Works roads.
By the numbers
- Distance: 2.6 miles, one way
- Elevation gain: 1,800 feet
- Mountain Elevation: 3,520 feet
For the first mile, the trail is rather mellow, but crosses or comes near the Hudson River and Lake Jimmy. Be advised it may be muddy here. At one mile, is the old fire tower observer's cabin and storage building. Follow the well-worn path in front of the cabin. Just after a short rise, around 1.1 miles, the trail hangs left into the woods. (The trail to the right goes to Flowed Lands via Hanging Spear Falls.) A stream is crossed at 1.6 miles and the climbing hasn't been terribly steep until this point. Between here and the summit, the trail gets much steeper, sometimes rough and rocky. The trail levels off at 2.5 miles and finally reaches the tower at 2.6 miles. There are no/ very limited views from the ground; enjoy views of the High Peaks from the tower cab or stairs.
Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing
Skiing is not recommended for this trail due to steepness of the terrain but advanced snowshoers might enjoy the challenge. The trailhead should be accessible in winter.
Stony Pond Trail is part of an intricate network of pond trails in the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest. The pond itself is 1.8 miles from the trailhead. There it intersects with the Hewitt Pond Trail.
A lean-to near the shore of Stony Pond provides views of Green Mountain. The trail continues for just over a mile more along the shores of Little Sherman Pond and Big Sherman Pond to the southern shore of Big Sherman Pond.
How to get there
Take Exit 29 off of Interstate 87 and follow Boreas Road west toward Newcomb. Continue to Route 28N, take a left and head toward Minerva. Continue for just under 10.5 miles to the trailhead on the left.
From the trailhead the path climbs slightly before descending to a new bridge overlooking a wetland. As you approach Stony Pond you will have a beautiful brook babbling to your left with small cascades that produce a wonderful sound.
To continue on to Center Pond, take a left at the picnic table and cross the outlet. The trail here continues through a lush forest over rolling terrain to an even lovelier backcountry pond. There is a 0.2-mile spur to Center Pond. Continuing straight leads to the Hewitt Pond Road trailhead, 3.1 miles away.
- Elevation gain one way: 360 feet
- Distance to the end of Big Sherman Pond: 2.8 miles
There is a lean-to and a picnic table at the pond, which offers views of Green Mountain.
Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing
This is a good length for a pretty snowshoe that can be completed in a day. The trail continues as a designated snowmobile trail only beyond the ponds, as it crosses private lands.
This is a great trail which winds through Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest. Around Stony Pond, Big and Little Sherman, and the Brook Falls Yurts.
Ungroomed, backcountry, trail.
Lean-to at Stony Pond, great lunch destination. Services in Minerva.
This hike is a magical one as it leads you to an attractive pond and through a beautiful forest filled with wildflowers!
To get here, take Exit 29 off of Interstate 87, turn right and then turn left on Route 9 to follow it north. Continue to the Sharp Bridge State Campground, which will be on the right. There is parking near the entrance.
By the numbers
- Elevation gain: 750 feet
- Distance round trip: 6.8 miles
From the parking area, locate Schroon Brook to the right and head down to it. Follow it upstream to the main trail. The hike now is a magical one as it leads you to a climb up the saddle between Clap and Greenbough Mountains, then descend towards East Mill Flow. You then hike above East Mill Flow to an intersection at 3.25 miles. At this intersection you can head straight to the edge of the Round Pond and outstanding views from a rocky location.
Snowshoeing & cross-country skiing
A long trek, but not very demanding in terms of terrain. This route, as well as the car-to-car option connecting to the Ensign Pond eastern trailhead, are great options for a cross-country ski.
This destination is a herd path at best and only used this in part the summit lies off any developed and mapped trail system; the use and understanding of GPS and/or map and compass is highly recommended. When traveling off-trail you will experience hazards not realized on a trail, expect more difficult and varying conditions and always lean toward safety as a priority.
How to get there
From the intersection of Route 9 and Route 74 in Schroon Lake follow Route 9 north toward North Hudson. Continue to the Dirgylot Trailhead on the left.
Once you have located the trailhead the hike will bring you into forest and soon above a sand pit, then shortly beyond, head under I87 through a hiker’s tunnel. On the opposite side, walk through the grassy field and into the forest again. You will then gradually start to gain elevation. The trail will make a hard left at a T-intersection with a faint herd path leading right; this is the one you want. This is called the Peaked Hills Path (unofficially).
The path is narrow and at times will become difficult to follow without looking ahead for the next move. The trail follows over rolling hills but never becomes too steep. You will need to cross a decent sized brook to stay on the path; this crossing can be hard to see. As you follow the path you will continue to climb and eventually come to a jumble of boulders on your right. There are two sets of three boulders and this marks the perfect spot to start your bushwhack. The forest is pretty open and very steep. The summit of #2 is a large open rock ledge with some of the finest vies in the area and the High Peaks are right in view.
Distance Round Trip
Approximate Time Round Trip
Family with Young Kids: Not Recommended
Experienced Hiker: 6 to 7 hours
Out of Shape Hiker: Not Recommended
This trail traverses the Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area.
Midway is Big Marsh, which is more of a pretty pond, and much of the northern end follows Hoffman Notch Brook for abundant scenery. The trail is 14.7 miles round trip. It's not an overly challenging trail but involves unbridged stream crossings and some muddy spots. There is 1720' elevation gain.
Northern Trailhead: Blue Ridge Road, (CR 84), 5.7 mi. west of Exit 29 on the Northway, I-87.
Southern Trailhead: End of the Loch Muller Road, found by taking Hoffman Rd 5.2 mi. west from Rt. 9 in Schroon Lake, then right on Potash Rd. and right again on Loch Muller Rd.
This route features ponds, brooks, and the opportunity to explore the abundant nature around Flowed Land. A visit to the historic Henderson Monument will complete this full day of hiking that is not quite the workout a mountain climb offers. A great outing in the High Peaks Wilderness!
Take Exit 29 from I-87 and turn west onto Blue Ridge Road (CR 84). Follow this route for 17.4 miles to an intersection with multiple signs. Turn right on Tahawus Road (CR 25). At 6.3 miles further, turn left off Lower Works Rd at street sign marked Upper Works Rd. At 9.9 miles the end of the road is the trailhead.
From the parking area at Upper Works, the trail starts mostly flat, but starts its climb to Flowed Lands after a junction at 1.6 miles. Flowed Lands, reached at 4.5 miles offers amazing views through the valley past Mount Colden.
- 9.4 miles RT, Moderate Hike
Redfield was named for Professor William C. Redfield: meteorologist, organizer of, and participant in, the first recorded ascent of Mount Marcy. This High Peak is trailless so use of map/compass is required.
How to get there
There are two ways to access this mountain:
Upper Works: 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. Unauthorized vehicles in the old parking lot after June 18, 2021 will be towed away at vehicle owner's 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 mileage to your trip.
Adirondack Loj Trailhead: Leave Lake Placid on Route 73, follow Route 73 toward Keene. Continue for about 3 miles to Adirondack Loj Road on the right. Follow Adirondack Loj Road to its end at Heart Lake and park in the main parking lot. Small parking fees will be required ($12 as of 2020).
By the numbers
- Elevation: 4,606 feet
- Redfield is High Peak #15
- Distance: from Upper Works, 18-miles round trip
- Ascent: 3,225 feet
- Be prepared and practice Leave No Trace principles
Mount Redfield is often climbed with Cliff Mountain, and is a much more pleasant ascent with a good summit view as a reward. Below is a brief description of the shortest approach via Lake Arnold. Redfield can also be approached via Lake Colden or from the south via Flowed Lands.
This is an approximate 9-mile hike, one way. From the Loj follow hikers approach the trail to the High Peaks that leads to Marcy Dam. From Marcy Dam you will need to follow the trail to Avalanche Pass. You will pass by Avalanche Camps, where you begin to climb. Take a left and head toward Lake Arnold. You will climb steeply up the shoulder of Mount Colden and eventually be at Lake Arnold. At Lake Arnold you will stay left and continue to climb to the top of the pass and descend for a bit into the valley. After a sometimes wet hike through the valley over log bridges and around beaver activity you will pass by Feldspar Lean-to. 0.1 miles past the lean-to is a major T-intersection. Left leads up to Four-Corners, south of Mount Marcy. Right leads to Uphill, the start of the herd-path.
Heading right you will have a moderate, but often wet hike to the Uphill Lean-to. The herd-path is directly across the trail from the lean-to, marked by a cairn. This herd-path is also the start of the Cliff Route. The Redfield route is the main one and continues straight after the Cliff turn-off. From here you will hike along a gorgeous brook and at times in it. Be sure to take time to look back every now and then to enjoy the views as they open up. There are many attractive small waterfalls along the way as well. The summit of Redfield is a large boulder, offering nice views.
Do not attempt to cross Flowed Lands unless the conditions warrant. The herd path is tough to follow in areas if the route has not been broken out. Moving water in the brook can be hazardous and not allow ice to get thick; you could break through if not careful. Tread lightly. The summit is very good in the winter, with outstanding views as you stand atop many feet of snow.
Avalanche Lake is beautiful and remote. It's well worth the trip for those who are prepared for the miles. Avalanche Pass is usually approached from the Adirondack Loj. But it can also be approached from the Upper Works, and when the two are combined make for an excellent through hike. Below both routes are described for those who want to hike the complete pass from Lake Placid to Newcomb or vice versa.
How to get there
Upper Works: From exit 29 on the I87, follow the Blue Ridge Road (CR84) toward Newcomb. Continue for roughly 18 miles to the Tahawus Road (CR25) on the right. Follow this road for 6.3 miles to a left at a sign for the High Peaks and then to its end at Upper Works at 9 miles.
Adirondack Loj: Leave Lake Placid on Rte 73, follow Route 73 toward Keene. Continue for about 3 miles to Adirondack Loj Road on the right. Follow Adirondack Loj Road to its end at Heart Lake and park in the main parking lot. A $10 parking fee will be required.
This is a 6.8 mile hike, one way to the south end of Avalanche Lake. Starting from Upper Works it is a long day to the south shore of Avalanche Lake and back, but a rewarding through hike to Adirondak Loj.
From the parking area at Upper Works. the trail starts mostly flat, but starts its climb to Flowed Lands after a junction at 1.6 miles. Flowed Lands, reached at 4.5 miles offers amazing views through the valley past Mount Colden. From Flowed Lands you will hike its perimeter along a difficult trail of many ups and downs to the dam on Lake Colden. From the dam you will pass through a heavily used camping are along the shore of Lake Colden. Past Lake Colden you will climb a bit to the south end of Avalanche Lake where the views are breathtaking.
- Elevation: 925'
- Ascent: 2,535'
This is a 5.2 mile hike, one way to the south end of Avalanche Lake. From the Loj follow the hikers' approach trail to the High Peaks that leads to Marcy Dam. From Marcy Dam, follow the trail toward Lake Colden. The first mile is a gentle climb, but the next half-mile is steeper to the new (1999) slide at the top of the pass. Passing by a couple of newer (2011) slides on the side of Mount Colden you make your way through the apex of the pass where the temperatures are typically much cooler. Vast cliffs and wet rocks loom over you as light fights to get to the ground. The trail then descends to Avalanche Lake.
The hike past the lake is a bit demanding, especially with full packs, many choose to stop here and enjoy the views of the sheer rock cliffs of Colden and Avalanche Mountain as they meet the cold, placid waters of Avalanche Lake. Past this point you will contend with boulders, ladders and a very windy trail, but the views along this section of trail are amazing and well worth the effort.
Cross-Country skiing and snowshoeing
Following the same route, winter hikers may snowshoe or ski to the lake. Note: Short winter daylight hours and a long route necessitate proper winter gear and emergency equipment. See DEC's Hike Smart NY page for more info on safe winter adventures.