Avalanche Lake is beautiful and remote. It's well worth the trip for those who are prepared for the miles. Avalanche Pass is usually approached from the Adirondack Loj. But it can also be approached from the Upper Works, and when the two are combined make for an excellent through hike. Below both routes are described for those who want to hike the complete pass from Lake Placid to Newcomb or vice versa.
How to get there
Upper Works: From exit 29 on the I87, follow the Blue Ridge Road (CR84) toward Newcomb. Continue for roughly 18 miles to the Tahawus Road (CR25) on the right. Follow this road for 6.3 miles to a left at a sign for the High Peaks and then to its end at Upper Works at 9 miles.
Adirondack Loj: Leave Lake Placid on Rte 73, follow Route 73 toward Keene. Continue for about 3 miles to Adirondack Loj Road on the right. Follow Adirondack Loj Road to its end at Heart Lake and park in the main parking lot. A $10 parking fee will be required.
This is a 6.8 mile hike, one way to the south end of Avalanche Lake. Starting from Upper Works it is a long day to the south shore of Avalanche Lake and back, but a rewarding through hike to Adirondak Loj.
From the parking area at Upper Works. the trail starts mostly flat, but starts its climb to Flowed Lands after a junction at 1.6 miles. Flowed Lands, reached at 4.5 miles offers amazing views through the valley past Mount Colden. From Flowed Lands you will hike its perimeter along a difficult trail of many ups and downs to the dam on Lake Colden. From the dam you will pass through a heavily used camping are along the shore of Lake Colden. Past Lake Colden you will climb a bit to the south end of Avalanche Lake where the views are breathtaking.
- Elevation: 925'
- Ascent: 2,535'
This is a 5.2 mile hike, one way to the south end of Avalanche Lake. From the Loj follow the hikers' approach trail to the High Peaks that leads to Marcy Dam. From Marcy Dam, follow the trail toward Lake Colden. The first mile is a gentle climb, but the next half-mile is steeper to the new (1999) slide at the top of the pass. Passing by a couple of newer (2011) slides on the side of Mount Colden you make your way through the apex of the pass where the temperatures are typically much cooler. Vast cliffs and wet rocks loom over you as light fights to get to the ground. The trail then descends to Avalanche Lake.
The hike past the lake is a bit demanding, especially with full packs, many choose to stop here and enjoy the views of the sheer rock cliffs of Colden and Avalanche Mountain as they meet the cold, placid waters of Avalanche Lake. Past this point you will contend with boulders, ladders and a very windy trail, but the views along this section of trail are amazing and well worth the effort.
Cross-Country skiing and snowshoeing
Following the same route, winter hikers may snowshoe or ski to the lake. Note: Short winter daylight hours and a long route necessitate proper winter gear and emergency equipment. See DEC's Hike Smart NY page for more info on safe winter adventures.