Nippletop is most often climbed with Dial Mountain - due to it being along the same ridge. Dial is located centrally along a very long ridge which requires the hiker to summit either Nippletop first (primary trail) or the shoulder of Noonmark Mountain and Bears Den Mountain (secondary trail). Dial has amazing views from a large boulder located on the summit, the views are limited to the west, but that's High Peaks Region, not too shabby.
This Adirondack 46 High Peak is number 13 on the 46er list.
Consider combining the primary and secondary trails below for a loop - highly recommended.
Primary Trailhead: Leave Lake Placid on Rte 73, follow Rte 73 through Keene and Keene Valley and into Saint Huberts. Parking is across the road from the Roaring Brook Falls Trailhead for Giant Mountain.
This is a 13.4 mile RT if you do not decide to combine the two trails. The loop would be shorter in distance, but a bit more demanding. Don't forget Dial is also along the ridge for a twofer peak day. The hike starts along a road for 0.75 miles to a wooden gate, where you will continue along a dirt road for an additional 2.5 miles before you enter a foot trail. The foot trail starts off very moderate but continues to get steeper in sections. You will pass by a trail for Indian Head and then another for Fish Hawk Cliffs before finally reaching the trail for Colvin and Blake. As you pass by this trail you will be on a somewhat mellow climb to Elk Pass. Elk Pass is a gorgeous destination is itself. As you pass through the three beaver ponds you will some to the base of a very steep ascent.
This ascent will bring you to within 0.1 miles of the summit of Nippletop to your right. This climb is still a bit challenging to the summit. The trail is narrow in spots, but views are continuous.
Secondary Trailhead: Leave Lake Placid on Rte 73, follow Rte 73 through Keene and Keene Valley and into Saint Huberts. Parking is across the road from the Roaring Brook Falls Trailhead for Giant Mountain.
This is an 15.0 mile RT if you didn't use the loop option, use the loop option it's much more rewarding and much less demanding. This trail starts from the same location as above but leaves the Lake Road a bit earlier. This trail also requires the hiker to climb over the shoulder of Noonmark and the summit of Bears Den Mountain. The hike starts along a road for 0.75 miles to a wooden gate, where you will continue along a dirt road (Lake Road) for an additional 1.0 miles to the trail on the left. Immediately you will start a climb from the road and the climb will get continuously steep to the shoulder of Noonmark. The shoulder of Noonmark was part of a major forest fire a few years back and the scars are still there today.
A sharp descent from the shoulder will quickly get you climbing again, but this time up Bears Den Mountain. Bears Den Mountain is a fully wooded summit, who actual location is hard to recognize. The descent past Bears Den Mountain is very moderate before you make the final approach to the summit of Dial Mountain.
From the summit of Dial, you will approach a steep descent, but the total elevation loss is not too bad. Since Nippletop is much higher than Dial the climb will be much longer. From the base of the descent expect a steady but not too steep of a climb to the intersection with the Elk Pass Trail, this is where you join in with the primary trail above.
13.4-15 miles RT, depending on route, long hike and challenging summit, Elevation: 4620' Ascent 4050'
Family with Young Kids: Not recommended - all trails
Experienced Hiker: Primary trail - 3 to 4 hours to summit, Secondary trail -5 to 5.5 hours to summit
Out of Shape Hiker: Not recommended - all trails
Some photos courtesy hikingadirondacks.blogspot.com Read their blog post about this hike!