Hiking Mount Marcy
Mount Marcy, elevation 5,344 feet, is the highest mountain in the Adirondacks, and the one that draws the most hikers each year. More than 20,000 people make the seven-mile trek annually, and on a busy July weekend, as many as 200 people crowd at the summit.
Things have certainly changed since that day in 1872, when Verplanck Colvin first hiked the mountain and discovered Lake Tear of the Clouds. “But how wild and desolate this spot!” he wrote. “It is possible that not even an Indian ever stood upon these shores. There is no mark of ax, no barked tree, nor blackened remnants of fire; not a severed twig or a human footprint.…”
Hiking from Adirondak Loj
Because of problems with over-use, park personnel urge hikers to shy away from Mount Marcy and tackle lesser-known peaks instead. If, however, hike Mount Marcy you must, one main trail begins at the Adirondak Loj. Known as the Van Hoevenberg Trail, it is marked in blue. Along the way you’ll pass the Marcy Dam, Phelps Brooks, and Indian Falls. From the summit of Mt. Marcy, a 1.1-mile trail leads to Lake Tear of the Clouds, the source of the Hudson River.
High in the mountains on the shores of Heart Lake is Adirondak Loj (Adirondak Loj Rd., off Rte. 73, 518/523-3441, www.adk.org), the retreat of the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK). Built in the 1920s, the classic lodge centers on a common room equipped with rocking chairs, a large fireplace, and a moose head.
The lodge offers accommodations for 46 people (ranging in type from private rooms to 18-person dormitories), along with a campground, cabins, and the High Peaks Information Center (8 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 8 a.m.–8 p.m. Sat.–Sun. May–Nov., call for off-season hours), selling camping supplies, maps, and outdoor guidebooks. In summer, the lodge sponsors numerous seminars and workshops; in winter, skis and snowshoes can be rented here. Several trailheads begin at the Loj.
The Loj is eight miles south of Lake Placid. Rates for private rooms start at $110 d; rates for bunk beds start at $34 per person. Breakfast, served family-style, is included in the room rates; dinners and trail lunches can be arranged. You don’t have to be an ADK member to stay here, but you must make reservations well in advance.
Hiking to Wanika Falls
On Averyville Road, 1.2 miles past the intersection with Old Military Road, is a blue-marked trail that leads to Wanika Falls. The day-long hike takes about seven hours over 13.4 miles, but the terrain is easy, and the waterfalls make the trip worthwhile. According to the Adirondack Mountain Club, the route leads through some of the finest forest in the region before ascending an old road leading to the Chubb River and the cascading falls, several hundred feet high. The trail is part of the much longer Northville–Placid Trail laid out by the Adirondack Mountain Club in 1922 and 1923.
Outfitters and Guides
Canoes and other boats can be rented at Jones Outfitters (2733 Main St., 518/523-3468) and Captain Marney’s (3 Victor Herbert Dr., 518/523-9746). Bear Cub Adventure Tours (30 Bear Cub Rd., 518/523-4339) offers guided canoeing, fishing, backpacking, and hiking trips.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition