Iroquois Peak | Snowshoe
Most Popular Winter Trailhead
Round Trip Distance
Average Round-trip Time
8 to 10 hours
Winter Obstacles to be Aware Of
Heavy winds above tree line, ice conditions along the ridge, white-outs, obscured trail due to snow drifts, and spruce traps. All of these conditions can be witnessed and should be prepared for. Iroquois on one day can be an easy snowshoe if the conditions are great; in ill conditions the ridge can be very hazardous with artic conditions.
This trail is by far the most popular winter route to the summit of Iroquois; the only other option would be a very long and difficult climb up from Lake Colden. From the Loj start your hike along the main route into the High Peaks that leads to Marcy Dam. This 0.9 mile portion of the trail will be very solid nearing the consistency of concrete. After 0.9 miles you will come to an interception; continue straight toward Algonquin Peak.
The grade remains moderate but eventually gets much steeper as you start to climb the shoulder of Wright Peak. Once in the col with Rong Peak, which is rock wall on your right, you will start climbing much steeper. A sign warns climbers of the risks of winter climbing. Soon you will pass by the Wright Peak Tail on the left and start a much harder and steeper climb that will bring you over Algonquin Peak.
At tree line for Algonquin Peaks it is good to be prepared for arctic conditions. You will have no shelter or protection from the elements until you climb Algonquin and Iroquois and get back to this location. That is around 3-miles of difficult terrain and exposure. Once over Algonquin you will descend to the intersection with the herd-path for Iroquois Peak and the Lake Colden Trail.
Follow the herd-path which is easy to locate, but very hard to stay on. Snow drifts and a windblown trail cover most of the course of the herd path. When off the trail you will notice the softness of the snow and the potential for spruce traps are high.
A spruce trap is where snow covers the branches of the spruce and balsam trees but does not get under the branches. This void causes the snow to collapse under your weight causing you to fall to the depth of the snow which can be upwards of 6-feet. The traps are very hard to get out of and the aid of your fellow climbers is sometimes essential, another reason to not hike the 46 High Peaks in winter alone.
The ridge will bring you over Boundary Peak to the open rock summit of Iroquois. Returning back to Algonquin is much easier as you now have a trail to follow, but conditions remain the same. Many winter climbers will tackle Wright Peak on the Way out to add a third High Peak to the days adventure.
Crampons for climbing over Algonquin could be needed; you should have them just in case. Wind and cold protection, balaclava, mittens are preferred for added hand warmth; goggles would be good to have just in case you need additional wind protection.
Please refer to our basic list of winter gear recommendations for day trips and remember this list is only a recommendation and you should take into light your experience, group size, length of trip, conditions, weather forecast, and any unforeseen incidences.