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Gray Peak, Mount Skylight, & Mount Marcy via Avalanche Pass

Very Difficult

Trail

14.8 mile 23.8 kilometer point to point
76% Runnable
Very Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 4,069' 1,240 m
Descent: -4,022' -1,226 m
High: 5,249' 1,600 m
Low: 2,381' 726 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 10% (6°)
Max Grade: 44% (24°)

Dogs

Unknown
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Map Key

Trail shared by Anonymous

Starting from Marcy Dam, this moderately difficult loop takes you to some of the most scenic spots in all the ADK.

Anonymous

Features Fall Colors · Geological Significance · Historical Significance · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

There may be restrictions for Avalanche Pass Trail in winter.

Overview

Marcy Dam/Pond is an easy run in from the Adirondack Loj, and is a convenient overnight camping location to base this (and many other) runs. As a result, Marcy Dam is one of the busier locations in the High Peaks Region. In 2011, Hurricane Irene severely damaged the wooden dam, and in 2014, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation stated that what remained of the dam would be removed. It was the dam's impoundment of Marcy Brook that created the pond, and thus in time, the pond will slowly be filled with silt and gradually become no more.

The Avalanche Pass trail takes you on the cliff wall of Avalanche Mountain, and provides breathtaking views of the slides on Mount Colden.

On your way from Gray Peak to Mount Skylight, you'll pass Lake Tear of the Clouds ("LTotC"). LTotC is the highest pond in New York State and is cited as the highest source of the Hudson River. This location also has historical significance: it was at LTotC that then Vice President Theodore Roosevelt (who was descending from Mount Marcy) was informed that President McKinley's gun shot wound had taken a turn for the worse. This began Roosevelt's long trek to Buffalo, where he would be sworn in as President.

Mount Skylight is known for some of the best views of Mount Marcy.

Mount Marcy is the highest point in New York at 5,344 feet. It also has stunning views of the High Peaks region.

Descending from Marcy via the Van Hoevenberg Trail, one can take a break at Indian Falls, which has excellent views of the MacIntyre Range.

Need to Know

Adirondack Loj charges daily for parking.

Be aware of bear safety strategies, and if staying overnight, you need to bring a bear canister.

Description

Starting at Marcy Dam, follow the Avalanche Pass Trail (also called Upper Works). At the south end of Lake Colden, take a left when you come across the Calamity Brook Trail/Mount Marcy Trail (I've seen it called both - if you followed the map above and traveled on the west side of Lake Colden (passing by the NYS DEC Lake Colden Interior Outpost) you should almost immediately cross a dam. Can also take the Avalanche Lake to Lake Colden Trail, which takes you on the east side of Lake Colden).

Continue on Calamity Brook Trail/Mount Marcy Trail until you reach Gray Peak Trail. This is a relatively steep ascent. Follow that to the summit, then return to Calamity Brook Trail/Mount Marcy Trail. Continue heading east on the trail until you reach the Four Corners.

At the Four Corners, follow the trail leading south to Mount Skylight Trail. This is a relatively steep ascent. Follow that trail back down to the Four Corners, where you'll take the trail heading north to reach Mount Marcy. This is a steep ascent, and caution should be taken. From the summit of Mount Marcy, take the Van Hoevenberg Trail back to Marcy Dam. Van Hoevenberg trail is long, but a relatively moderate incline for most of it.

Due to the max grade, I rated this as an extremely difficult run, however, large portions of it are very manageable. Would not recommend as your first 46er route, and, as always, come prepared.

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We need help with the following missing trail information:

Dogs Allowed, Flora & Fauna, Runner Notes, History & Background

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in New York

#3,134

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873 Since Jul 23, 2019
Very Difficult

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Photos

Almost to the top.
May 27, 2015 near Lake Pl…, NY
Phelps Brook Dam Pond
May 27, 2015 near Lake Pl…, NY
Little Marcy
Jul 28, 2017 near Lake Pl…, NY
Suspended walkway along Avalanche Pass Trail
Jun 12, 2019 near Lake Pl…, NY
The view facing south from the top of Mt. Skylight.
Feb 20, 2019 near Lake Pl…, NY
The view from the summit.
May 27, 2015 near Lake Pl…, NY

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