As many people ski this route as snowshoe it, but the trail does require advanced intermediate ability - i.e. a darn good snowplow. The usual start is Adirondack Loj ($10/day parking fee) located at the end of Adirondak Loj Rd., a 5 mile road to the right off of Rt. 73 two miles east toward Keene. One can also park on the road at four miles from Rt. 73 and ski via Meadow Lane and the truck trail. This route has no parking fee, is better with minimal snow, but is over a mile longer each way.
Winter Overview and Trail Conditions:
From the Loj follow the "main highway" trail into the High Peaks Region that leads to Marcy Dam. This trail will be packed solid by hikers before and after you. While snowshoes may seem unneeded they are required anytime there is over 8 inches of snow. From Marcy Dam you will need to follow the trail to Avalanche Camps and Avalanche Pass. You will pass by Avalanche Camps 1.1 miles from Marcy Dam, which is a great place to lay your head if you wanted to extend an outing. This is where the snowshoeing or skiing becomes much more serious. The mile or so past Avalanche Camps is often called “Misery Mile;” it’s not really that bad. Snowshoers should bear right and follow the summer hiking trail, while skiers will have an easier time bearing left toward Lake Arnold for 200 yds and then bearing right onto the ski route that twice crosses the hiking trail to maintain an easier grade.
After a long and steady snowshoe uphill, you will soon be passing by a couple newer slides on the side of Mount Colden. This is the top of the pass where the temperatures are typically much cooler. Slightly descending you will enter the heart of the pass with vast cliffs and rocks loom over you. The trail then descends more to Avalanche Lake. Many choose to stop here and enjoy the views of the sheer rock cliffs of Colden and Avalanche Mountain as they meet the surface of ice-covered Avalanche Lake. If there is sufficient snow for skiing or snowshoeing, the ice on the lake is usually solid enough to continue and enjoy the additional views from the surface of the lake. The outlet at the far end is the only danger spot, so you may need to exit the ice 50-100 yds before the outlet. This narrow pass can also be windy, so be prepared with extra clothing and perhaps even a face mask.
Distance Round Trip:
Approximate Time Round Trip:
Families with Kids: 6 to 7 hours
Experienced Snowshoers: 4 to 5 hours
Out of Shape Snowshoers: 5 to 6 hours
Difficulty: 1=easiest, 5=hardest
Three: Mainly due to distance, but terrain can be a bit steep in areas as well
Additional Important Information:
Snowshoeing or skiing over a frozen body of water is a winter past time; it can access you to areas not seen by most in the summer. With that being said it is a dangerous activity to cross frozen water bodies and should be done with care and respect for your environment. Know the ice conditions and be prepared for anything including heavy winds, snow drifts, whiteouts, slushy conditions, and thin ice.