It is the hardest mountain to climb in the Adirondacks

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The Adirondack Mountains are timeless because they are beautiful. They form an unforgettable massif in upstate New York and cover approximately 5,000 square miles. They were carved out by years of glaciation and are home to myriad lakes (some of the most famous being Lake Placid, Lake Tear of the Clouds and Lake George). One can decide whether the Adirondacks or the Catskills are better, but they both add very different natural beauty to upstate New York.

The Adirondacks region has hundreds of mountain peaks that, while small by West Coast standards, are impressive. The beaches reach heights of 5,000 feet or more. The toughest hike in the Adirondacks is said to be the Great Range Transverse (or Great Range Trail). Alternatively, there are also easy hikes in the Adirondacks that offer stunning views.

The Great Range Transverse – The Adirondacks’ Toughest Hike

For those ready for the biggest hiking challenge the Adirondacks have to offer, consider hiking the Great Range Transverse. This is an impressive 19.5 mile point to point trail with the trail crossing many peaks. This makes the trail an extra long day hike. The route normally takes around 12.5 hours and is popular for hiking, camping and bird watching. Although popular, it still offers plenty of opportunities to relax in the seclusion of the Adirondacks.

  • Length: 31.5 km or 19.5 miles
  • Duration: About 12.5 hours

The Great Range Transverse is one of the toughest in the United States (or at least the East) and traverses 12 different mountains. In total, hikers must conquer approximately 10,000 feet of elevation gain. The trail has many variations with different side trails and entry points, so there’s no need to complete it all in one day if you don’t want to.

Related: Ask Reddit: Which is Better to Hike, the Adirondacks or New Hampshire’s White Mountains?

What to know about hiking The Great Range Transverse

The best time to embark on the adventure of traversing the Great Range Transverse is from March to December (avoid the worst of winter). Trails are said to be in good condition (apart from a bit of mud between Basin and Saddleback).

The trail is closed to pets, so the pouch will need to stay home.

  • Pets: Prohibited
  • Point: Take plenty of water
  • Sunrise: The sunrise is stunning from Roostercomb

To add extra fun to the hike, get there early (as early as 4:00 a.m.) so you can get to the top of Roostercomb and catch the sunrises.

One of the great things about the trail is that it is versatile and can be varied in many ways. Learn more about the course at alltrails.com.

What’s really difficult about this hike isn’t so much the 20 miles or so or the 10,000 feet of elevation gain. The hardest part is the terrain itself – and especially when there is snow or wet conditions (check if the trail is snow covered before you go).

Hikers often suggest taking 3 liters of water when hiking, there are streams along the way to fill in but some of these can be dry at times.

Related: What to Know About Exploring the Stunning Adirondack Ranges

Mount Marcy The highest mountain in New York

The Great Range Transverse also culminates at the summit of Mount Marcy – the highest point in New York State. Mount Marcy rises to an elevation of 5,344 feet (1,629 m) and sits in the heart of the Adirondack High Peaks region in the High Peaks Wilderness Area.

  • Elevation: 5,344 feet (1,629 m)
  • High season: summer months

During the summer months, the section of the trail that crosses Mount Marcy can be expected to be very busy with people thronging the summit. As you pass Lake Tear of the Clouds, between Mount Marcy and Mount Skylight, note that it is often considered the highest source of the Hudson River.

The Great Range Transverse crosses the Great Range. The Great Range is at the heart of the High Peaks region, between the Ausable Lakes and the Johns Brook Valley. The range extends for approximately 12 miles and has seven of the forty-six High Peaks.

The peaks are Lower Wolfjaw, Upper Wolfjaw, Armstrong, Gothics, Saddleback, Basin, and Haystack. Marcy is at the heart of the High Peaks region but is not normally considered part of the Great Range.


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