Iroquois is the third peak along the MacIntyre Mountain Range and is most often climbed with Algonquin Peak and Wright Peak. It technically does not have a trail to the summit, but there is a maintained trail up and over Algonquin and there is a well-defined herd path to Iroquois.
How to get there
Leave Lake Placid on Rte 73, follow Rte 73 toward Keene. Take your first right after the ski jumps onto Adirondack Loj Road. Follow this road to its end and park at the hiker trailhead. There is a fee to park.
By the numbers
- Elevation: 4840 feet
- Iroquois is High Peak #8
The primary route ascends most of Wright and all of Algonquin on the way. Iroquois is one of the High Peaks with rare and endangered alpine vegetation; please tread lightly and stay on bare rock. Iroquois is blessed with a 360 degree view from its bald summit with amazing views, as you can imagine, with the best views of Wallface.
This is a 5.0 mile hike, one way, with mixed terrain. This route starts out along a very busy and popular hiking trail that leads to Marcy Dam. At about 0.9 miles you will come to a major intersection that you need to go straight through and head up Algonquin. From here the terrain gets slowly steeper and much steadier. As you reach 3900’ in elevation the grade eases off a bit, you will notice the rock face of Rong Peak to your right. The intersection for Wright Peak is just a bit further and there will be a rather large congregation area.
From here it is less than a mile to the summit of Algonquin, which you will be required to climb to get to Iroquois. The final ascent up Algonquin is a very steep climb that will get you to tree line. Above tree line you are totally exposed to the elements for over 1-mile to the summit of Iroquois and over 1-mile back to tree line. From the summit of Algonquin you will descend quite steeply over open rock to the intersection with the secondary route and the herd-path to Iroquois.
The herd-path is very narrow and goes through highest bog in the Eastern United States, this is a very fragile ecosystem and care should be taken going through. Along the herd-path you will also have to climb over Boundary Peak. Boundary Peak was the land boundary between the Iroquois and Algonquin Indians, hence the names of the peaks. The final climb up Iroquois is not as demanding as Algonquin.
Secondary Trailhead: This is an 8.0 mile hike, one way, with a moderate to steep terrain. Follow the primary trail to Marcy Dam and Avalanche Camps and instead of heading toward Lake Arnold head toward Avalanche Pass. This next mile is referred to as “Misery Mile;" it’s a bit steep, but not too bad. You will pass through Avalanche Pass where the temperatures are much cooler and make your way along Avalanche Lake. This trail along the lake is very demanding and consists of scrambling, boulders and numerous ladders.
Once past the lake the trail drops a bit to a junction at a trail register. Go right for 0.4 miles past an inlet of Lake Colden to the trail for Algonquin on your right. This trail is one of the steepest in the park, be prepared to get a serious workout. From Lake Colden you will be climbing directly up the fall-line of a tributary of Lake Colden. The trail is typically wet and slippery with several large steps and serious erosion. This trail will exit in the col between Iroquois and Algonquin where you will pick up the herd-path along the primary route.
Heavy winds above tree line, ice conditions along the ridge, white-outs, obscured trail due to snow drifts, and spruce traps: all of these conditions can be witnessed and should be prepared for. Iroquois on one day can be an easy snowshoe if the conditions are great; in ill conditions, the ridge can be very hazardous with arctic conditions.
At tree line for Algonquin Peak, it is good to be prepared for arctic conditions. You will have no shelter or protection from the elements until you climb Algonquin and Iroquois and get back to this location. That is around 3-miles of difficult terrain and exposure. Follow the herd-path, which is easy to locate, but very hard to stay on. Snow drifts and a windblown trail cover most of the course of the herd path. When off the trail you will notice the softness of the snow and the potential for spruce traps are high.
A spruce trap is where snow covers the branches of the spruce and balsam trees but does not get under the branches. This void causes the snow to collapse under your weight causing you to fall to the depth of the snow which can be upwards of 6-feet. The traps are very hard to get out of and the aid of your fellow climbers is sometimes essential.