This is the big one! Mount Marcy is the tallest mountain in New York; while not technically challenging, it will offer plenty of varied terrain and that means a very long day. Marcy has four trails to the summit. The route from the High Peaks Information Center, described below, is the most popular and heavily used — and at 7.4 miles one way, it's also the shortest. The summit of Mount Marcy boasts some of the best views in the north-east with its massive bare-rock dome. Be sure to tread lightly, though. While the Adirondack Park is over 6 million acres, Mount Marcy is home to a small portion of some endangered alpine vegetation. Only about 85 acres in total can be claimed as home to the rare alpine zone vegetation that is being protected. Be sure to walk on the paths laid out for you and stay on open rock.
This Adirondack 46 High Peak is number 1 on the list.
Below is a brief description of the Van Hoevenberg Trail, the most popular route. We recommend you pick up a guide book for more in depth detail on the many other longer approaches to this peak. For those demanding a very long outing or a super challenge, Marcy can also be combined with Mount Skylight and Gray, two other High Peaks.
This is a 14.8 mile round trip with a moderate to steep climb. Starting from the Loj parking lot, the first 2.3 miles of the Van Hoevenberg Trail are easy to moderate as the trail approaches the Marcy Dam site. Hurricane Irene blew out the dam, but there are still excellent views of Mount Colden, Avalanche Mountain, and Wright Peak.
Turn left after the dam to follow Phelps Brook, a rocky trail that becomes steep at times, especially before it reaches Marcy Brook at 4.4 miles. Cross the brook and take the herd path right for about 50 yards to the top of Indian Falls, where there is an outstanding view of the MacIntyre Range.. From Indian Falls you will enjoy a very moderate ascent up to tree line. Tree line can offer amazing views, but also offers at times a severe change in temperature, wind, or visibility.
Things ease off for a bit, and several views of Marcy's summit cone reveal themselves before timberline is reached at 6.8 miles. From here it's a steep climb over open rock to the top, which is reached at 7.4 miles.
Primary Trailhead: The shortest and most popular route leaves from the High Peaks Information Center parking lot, near Adirondak Loj. There is a parking fee ($10 for full day, $5 after 1 p.m.) to use this large lot. Leave Lake Placid on Route 73, turn right on Adirondack Loj Road, and follow it to its end. Pay the fee at the booth, even if no one is inside.
Distance: 7.4 miles to the summit
Elevation: 5,344 feet
Ascent: 3,166 feet