Ascent of Mount Marcy on 2014-08-10

Climber: Alan Barber

Others in Party:Mike Duggins
Date:Sunday, August 10, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Marcy
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:5344 ft / 1628 m

Ascent Trip Report

Mike and I met in Boston and drove through Massachusetts taking time to high point Mount Greylock before spending the night in Lake Placid at Art Devlin’s Olympic Motor Inn. The next morning after a McDonald’s breakfast we headed out to ascend the highest point of New York. Mount Marcy is in the Adirondack Mountains outside of Lake Placid. On the way to the trail head we passed to the ski jumps at the Olympic Jumping Complex built for the 1980 Olympics.

Just east of town past the ski jumps, we turned onto Adirondack Loj road which leads to the trail head at the Adirondack Loj. The trailhead is at the end of the first parking lot. We considered parking on about a mile from the Loj on Meadows lane and using the old road which is reported to be smoother and easier hiking but a little longer. However, in the end we opted to use the standard trail. However, at the end of our hike we regretted this decision because the trail has lots of ups and downs, roots and rocks which our tired legs did not appreciate.

We paid the fee, parked in the Adirondack Loj parking lot, and started up the trail at 7:10am. There was a trail register at the beginning of the trail as well as a pile of small rocks were hikers were asked to pick up and carry to the top to help with preservation of the protected vegetation. The trail started flat and well cared for with wooden bridges built over marshy areas.

The blue blazes and trail markers clearly showed the way and getting lost was never a concern. After about one hour of brisk hiking we covered 2½ miles and arrived at Marcy Dam. We were disappointed to see that the dam had been breached by the recent Hurricane. The pond was only a remnant of what the earlier photographs show. After a brief stop we crossed the creek just below the dam not using the bridge lower down and found the second trail register. We signed in and pushed on. The trail generally followed Phelps Brook and eventually we came to a log bridge which we crossed about 9 am. The trail became rocky and narrow and began to rise. Several sections which were prone to flooding had been covered using logs creating a boardwalk of sorts.

Later we saw the sign to Indian falls but decided to visit it after we summitted. The trail beyond Indian Falls was variously pitched but we made good time. Fortunately, mosquitoes were not a problem. As the trees tinned out we got our first good view of Mount Marcy. From that point on the path was noticeably steeper and we have to negotiate several rocky areas. We came to a flat spot with a seat carved into a stone which gave a great view of the summit. As we got above tree line the trail became steeper and some rock scrambling was required. Once we arrived at the rock cairns the views opened up and we could see for miles.Towards the summit the protected vegetation was apparent along with Bristlecone pines. We reached the summit at 12:30 am. The GPS indicated that we covered 7.33 miles on our upward hike. There was a reference USGS marker with an arrow pointing to the actual high point but unfortunately the actual USGS benchmark is gone and only the top of its spike remained.

In addition to the USGS marker there is a plaque embedded in the stone. At the top the summit steward reminded us to stay off the plants. We ate a quick lunch, changed socks, and took several summit shots. At 1 pm we started back down. We took the short side trail to Indian Falls and enjoyed the views and a little washing up in the cold fast flowing water. We made it back to the second bridge at 3:50 pm and the high water bridge at 4:30 pm. Shortly afterwards we reached the register and signed out. Before using the bridge below March Dam to cross the creek, we saw the trail to the Meadows lane parking area and wished we could be hiking that flat road instead of the irregular and rocky trail back to the Adirondack Loj. Perhaps we will use it next time. We finally made it back to the trailhead at 5:35 pm feeling every one of the almost 15 miles we had covered.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3300 ft / 1005 m
    Round-Trip Distance:14.7 mi / 23.6 km
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Stream Ford, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3300 ft / 1005 m
    Distance:7.3 mi / 11.8 km
    Start Trailhead:2044 ft / 623 m
Descent Statistics
    Distance:7.3 mi / 11.8 km

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