Gothics is truly one of the greatest peaks in the northeast, hands down. This bald summit offers 360 degree views and is a favorite among many for its spectacular vista and unique climb.
This hike is accessed through a conservation easement with the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR). A parking reservation is needed from May 1 - October 31. Although it is called a “parking reservation,” everyone will need a reservation to access hikes leaving from AMR, whether you drove yourself, rode a bike, got dropped-off, or walked. These reservations can be made online via the AMR website. For more information, please read these FAQs or contact the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
By the numbers
- Elevation: 4,736 feet
- Elevation gain: Depends on which trail is taken. See below.
- Distance: Depends on which trail is taken. See below.
- Gothics is High Peak #10
- Follow Leave No Trace principles
There are two routes to the summit of Gothics described below.
This is part of the St Huberts parking area/trailhead. Leave Lake Placid on Route 73, follow Route 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 approach is on private land of the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR). Dogs are absolutely prohibited in this game preserve. (If you do want to take your dog, use the secondary trailhead from the Garden.)
This is 6.2 miles, one way, with a moderate to steep ascent. From the parking lot you will initially have to follow a dirt road to a paved road. At 1/2 mile from the parking area and just before reaching the main club house, turn left and down between two tennis courts on Lake Road Way to get to the gate into the AMR. The AMR is a private property area with recreational easements, special rules apply to use and those are posted at the gate. At the gate you will need to hike the dirt access road for 2 miles to the Gothics trail on the right. This trail leads through the forest to a bridge over the Ausable River and then to the base of Beaver Meadow Falls.
The trail climbs steeply to the left of the falls via a ladder before easing off to a steady climb with a few steeper sections. After crossing a slide 2 miles from the Lake Road, the climb becomes very steep before four small ladders allow a descent to a junction with the Range Trail. Armstrong is to your right and Gothics to the left. Follow left up the spine of the ridge and enjoy the amazing views as they unfold. Climbing Gothics from the AMR has the advantage of a possible loop trip with a return via Pyramid Peak, which some consider to have the best single view in the mountains. This slightly longer return is found by continuing 200 yards past the summit and going left. The trail descends steeply, climbs to Pyramid and then descends steeply to a junction at 1 mile from the summit of Gothics. Turn left and descend at a more moderate grade past Rainbow Falls to the bridge below the dam at the Lower Ausable Lake. The Lake Road is across the bridge and up 100 yards.
Ascent from Lake Road: 3,050 feet
From the Garden
This route leaves from The Garden in Keene Valley; there is a small parking fee at the trailhead. Parking is limited and fills up early most weekend mornings. Leave Lake Placid on Route 73, continue through Keene and into Keene Valley and turn right at the sign for the High Peaks at the Ausable Inn and follow Adirondack St. to Johns Brook Lane. It is 1.6 miles from Rt. 73 to the Garden with the last 0.2 miles on a narrow dirt road.
This is a 7.1 mile hike, one way with a mixture of terrain. From the Garden parking area, the trail is mostly flat with gentle climbs past an intersection with the Southside Trial at 0.5 miles. Continuing straight you will be hiking along a portion of rolling hills till you drop steeply into Johns Brook Valley with a trail register at the junction. Johns Brook Lodge is to the right, but the most direct route to Gothics goes left past the DEC Interior Outpost to a bridge over Johns Brook. Turn right immediately after the bridge and begin a steady ascent along Orebed Brook.
Going straight through a five-way intersection, the Ore Bed Trail continues at a moderate grade for another mile, but steepens after a second brook crossing. One soon encounters new slides on the right due to Hurricane Irene and then a long series of wooden stairs. The top of the Ore Bed Trail leaves you between Gothics (left) and Saddleback (right). Head left up the Cable Route. The Cable Route is a very steep and exposed climb where a coated cable has been run aid ones ascent. If you have issues with exposure, you might want to choose an alternate route. This route will bring you first to the west summit of Gothics and then to the true summit slightly further away.
Ascent from JBL: 2,360 feet
Be cautious: there can be strong winds and deep snowdrift along the ridge and upon the summit; whiteout conditions can exist. Wind protection is a must.
Snowshoeing Gothics in winter is a serious endeavor that should only be attempted after tackling a few of the area's smaller mountains. Snowshoes are required and will suffice on the generally well-packed trail, but snow spikes are highly recommended for the steep upper reaches of the mountain. The open stretches along the Cable Route are particularly hazardous when icy and should only be attempted by hikers with the proper gear and with experience on steep, open, icy routes. This is especially important on the descent.
Expect a significant drop in temperature as elevation is gained, and be prepared for strong winds on the open summit ledge. Always bring extra layers, especially for higher elevations, and don't hesitate to turn around if the weather starts to turn.