Starter Peaks For The Adirondack 46er

Are you getting ready to hike the 46 high peaks of the Adirondacks? Today over 13,000 people have checked them off their hiking goals list. If you are brand new to hiking, I would not suggest hopping on this just yet.

Get a couple of small hikes and mountaineering experiences under your belt first. If you are a seasoned hiker and ready to start the challenge, here we share what people who have climbed all 46 high peaks have to say about how and where to start.

Cascade And Porter

Most 46ers we’ve spoken to suggest starting here. Cascade Peak is 4,098 feet, and Porter is 4,059 feet. These are the two easiest (if you want to call them that) peaks out of the 46, due to the manageable hike length and maintained trails. It is 2.4 miles to the summit of Cascade, and another 1.4 out and back to Porter. At an average hiking pace, with about a thirty-minute break, the whole thing should take you about 4 hours. This is an excellent way to get your feet wet.

Phelps Mountain

Phelps is a great middle point. The distance is 8.5 miles roundtrip, and the trails are very well marked. It is a long and quite steep couple of miles in the beginning, giving your legs a challenging workout. The Van Hoevenberg Trail Portion, used in the first 3 miles to the summit, is all uphill. The experts say this is an excellent trail to get you used to the stiff leg work you have ahead of you.

East Dix (Grace Peak)

Before hitting the most challenging peak, Grace Dix is first recommended and will put your outdoor skills to use. The distance here is 10.4 miles out and back and takes about 6 hours to complete. We suggest hiking this trail on a dry day, and not right after a rainstorm; it gets very muddy, and there is a lot of climbing over rocks and crossing over some rivers, You will want to pack extra dry socks, regardless.

Tip – Hikers often choose to climb Dix from the South by taking Hunters Pass Trail from Elk Lake Towards Hunters Pass and then on to Dix for a 7.3 mile one way.

The trail itself is challenging, not marked well, and most tracks are not officially maintained. Also, keep your eyes open for slippery rocks that seem to be everywhere and hard to see. Don’t worry, it is not all doom and gloom up there! There are some gorgeous waterfalls and swimming holes, and if you are planning on making this a backpacking trip, there are many great spots to set up a tent and stay the night. There are no designated spots for camping, but as long as you follow the stay 150’ from the trail and any water source, feel free to pop up a tent and call it a night!

Mount Marcy

Here it is! The highest peak in New York State. Number 46 on the list. 14.8 miles, 10 hours round trip, and 5,344 feet in elevation. Mount Marcy. Here we will give you a somewhat shorter route to help you get to the top.

From the ADK Information Center, take the Van Hoevenberg Trail, a 2.3 mile all dirt trail with a couple of rocks, and some roots to hop over. You will then hit Darcy Dam. This is an excellent spot to pull out your camera and take pictures of Colden Mountain, Avalanche Mountain, and Wright Peak.

Continuing from Darcy Dam, you will come to a wooden bridge. From the bridge, go left, following the Mount Marcy signs. From there, it is 0.7 miles to Phelps.

Continue past the trail, and you will come to a stream crossing. This is the steepest and most challenging part of your journey. After crossing, follow the trail for 1.2 miles to an intersection that will take you to Bushnell Falls. Go straight beyond the tree line and push yourself up to the summit. There you are! You made it!

Tips Before you Go:

  • Emergency situations. If you get lost or hurt, use your cell phone to call 911 or the DEC Forest Ranger Dispatch at 833-NYS-Rangers.
  • Weather. Routinely check the Weather forecast for your selected summits.
  • Bear Canister. NYSDEC requires you carry a Bear Canister in the Eastern High Peaks between April 1- November 20.
  • Fires. Check to see when fire ban season starts and ends before planning a trip in which you will need a campfire. Never leave a campfire unattended, and always fully extinguish it.
  • Leave no trace.