Description

Mount Marcy (Mohawk: Tewawe’éstha) is the highest point in New York State, with an elevation of 5,343 feet (1,629 m). It is located in the Town of Keene in Essex County. The mountain is in the heart of the Adirondack High Peaks Region of the High Peaks Wilderness Area. Its stature and expansive views make it a popular destination for hikers, who crowd its summit in the summer months. Lake Tear of the Clouds, at the col between Mt. Marcy and Mt. Skylight, is often cited as the highest source of the Hudson River, via Feldspar Brook and the Opalescent River, even though the main stem of the Opalescent River has as its source a higher point two miles north of Lake of the Clouds, and that stem is a mile longer than Feldspar Brook. Mount Marcy is one of the High Peaks of the Adirondack Mountains. The majority of the mountain is forested, although the final few hundred feet is above the tree line. The peak is dominated by rocky outcrops, lichens, and alpine shrubs. There are two plaques at the top commemorating the centennial of the climb as well as the mountain summit itself. The shortest and most frequently used route up the mountain is from the northwest, the Van Hoevenberg Trail, which starts at the Adirondak Loj near Heart Lake. From there it is 7.4 miles (11.2 km) to the summit, a lengthy (22.4 km) roundtrip which can nevertheless be done in a day. A large section of the trail is suitable for alpine skiing and snowboarding. The summit via the Johns Brook Trail from the Garden parking north of the mountain in Keene Valley is an 18-mile (28.8 km) round trip, which may be broken at Johns Brook Lodge. A lengthier southern approach can be made from either of the two major trailheads for the southern High Peaks, Upper Works or Elk Lake. Visibility on the summit occasionally affords very distant views of most of the Montregian Hills volcano chain in Quebec's St Lawrence valley as far north as Mont St Hillaire. Views of Burlington and Lake Champlain adorn the surrounding Green Mountains with visibility extending far beyond the Southern Adirondacks as well.

There are four main trails to Mount Marcy's summit. The route from the Adirondak Loj parking area, the Van Hoevenberg Trail, is the most popular and heavily used — and at 7.4 miles one way, it's also the shortest. We recommend you pick up a guidebook for more in-depth details on the longer approaches to this peak. For those demanding a very long outing or a super challenge, a hike up Marcy can also be combined with Mount Skylight and Gray, two other High Peaks.

Climbing Mount Marcy is a rite of passage for many area hikers, whether it’s a personal goal on its own or a small piece of the pursuit to become an Adirondack 46er. Beginning from the High Peaks Information Center (HPIC) at the serene Heart Lake, this moderate, 14.5-mile hike passes scenic areas, like the old Marcy Dam and Indian Falls, before climbing for a half-mile on the windswept, rocky slope above treeline to a summit with spectacular 360-degree views of the surrounding Adirondack landscape and adjacent mountains. Mount Marcy is a special place in the High Peaks Wilderness, more than five miles away from any road and a mile into the sky and reachable only by those on foot, thus making it a worthwhile journey into a wilderness as deep as you can find anywhere in the region.

Mount Marcy is a challenging mountain that should only be attempted by experienced hikers, especially in winter. Snowshoes are a must for much of the route, and snow spikes or crampons are necessary to climb the exposed upper reaches of the peak. Plan on the temperature in the higher elevations being at least 20 degrees colder than in the valley, not including the windchill. Bring several extra non-cotton layers, a headlamp with spare batteries, extra food, a windbreaker, goggles, face mask, and supplies for spending the night in case of emergency.

The mountain is named after Gov. William L. Marcy, the 19th-century Governor of New York, who authorized the environmental survey that explored the area. Its first recorded ascent was on August 5, 1837, by a large party led by Ebenezer Emmons looking for the source of the East Fork of the Hudson River.[7] Today the summit may be reached by multiple trails. Though a long hike by any route, a round-trip can be made in a day.

From the south (Albany or New York City), take I-87 north to Exit 30 and head west (left) on Route 73 towards Lake Placid for 26.5 miles, where you’ll take a left onto Adirondack Loj Road. The road is winding and becomes unpaved, however; you’ll reach the ticket booth after 4.8 miles. From the north (Plattsburgh or Montreal), take I-87 south to Exit 34 and head west (left) on Route 9N towards Lake Placid for 26 miles, where you will bear right (west) on Route 73. After approximately 11 miles on Route 73, take a left onto Adirondack Loj Road.

You’ll reach a high-water bridge at 2.6 miles (44.15719, -73.9474), where you will have the option to cross the brook now or continue about 500 feet farther upstream for a more natural water crossing via rock hopping (44.15616, -73.94622). If it’s early in the spring, if it’s been raining lately, or if you’re unsure about the water level, use the bridge, as it’s better to stay safe and dry this early in the hike. After some more uphill trekking, you’ll come to the intersection with the trail to Phelps Mountain (44.1516, -73.93561) at mile 3.3, a worthy day hike on its own.


Starting Point

From the parking lot located at Adirondak Loj (plan to pay a $10 US parking fee), follow the signs to Marcy Dam, then to Mount Marcy using the Van Hoevenberg Trail. During the ascent, take the time to make a short round trip to see Indian Falls. A wooden sign will indicate the location of these beautiful waterfalls. A little further on, once on Marcy's rocky shoulder, you must follow the cairns (rock piles) and yellow painted markers to reach the summit. The return trip is by the same path.

Alternative

You can create a superb loop down to Skylight and Gray Mountains on your return. To do this, just proceed on the same path from the top of Marcy to achieve a spot called Four Corners. You can quickly reach Mount Skylight's summit from here, where the view is also outstanding. Please read the Skylight and Gray Mountains data sheet for more information on this loop.

Schedule



Photos of Mount Marcy, New York

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