Skylight is the peak with one of the most impressive views, boasting a sighting of over 30 other High Peaks. This completely bald rock dome is very impressive when seen from other regions of the High Peaks and its expanse tends to generate its own odd weather. An Old Native American tale has it, if you don’t bring a rock to the summit and lay it upon its head, it will surely rain, and perhaps this is the explanation of the odd weather effects people talk about.
This Adirondack 46 High Peak is number 4 on the list.
Below is a brief descriptions of the shortest route. We recommend you pick up a guide book for more in depth detail of the other approaches. Skylight is commonly done as a loop with either an approach or return over Mt. Marcy.
Primary Trailhead: Leave Lake Placid on Route 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. Small parking fees will be required. ($10 as of 2013)
This is an 8.5 mile hike, one way. From the Loj follow the hikers' approach trail to the High Peaks that leads to Marcy Dam. From Marcy Dam you will need to follow the trail to Avalanche Pass. You will pass by Avalanche Camps, where you begin to climb. Take a left and head toward Lake Arnold. You will climb steeply up the shoulder of Mount Colden and eventually be at Lake Arnold. At Lake Arnold you will stay left and continue to climb to the top of the pass and descend for a bit into the valley. After a sometimes wet hike through the valley over log bridges and around beaver activity you will pass by Feldspar Lean-to. 0.1 miles past the lean-to is a major T-intersection. Right leads down to Lake Colden. Follow the trail to your left and continue an aggressive climb up to Lake-Tear-of-the-Clouds.
You will hike near the shore of the lake and end up at Four-Corners, a major intersection on the south side of Marcy. (Trail left here is the return over Marcy.) At this point take a right and climb up the shoulder of Skylight. This section tends to be a bit wet and slippery in spots. This final approach is the steepest section of the entire hike. On the summit you will see the rather enormous rock pile that superstitious hikers have built.
This hike is 17-18 miles RT - long with challenging terrain.
Family with Young Kids: Not recommended
Experienced Hiker: Primary trail – 4.5 to 5.5 hours to summit,
Out of Shape Hiker: Not recommended
Most Popular Winter Trailhead
Upper Works to Four-Corners or over Mount Marcy
Round Trip Distance
18.0 miles over Marcy, 20.2 miles from Upper Works
Average Round-trip Time
10 to 12 Hours over Mount Marcy, 11 to 13 hours from Upper Works
Winter Obstacles to be Aware Of
Do not attempt to cross Flowed Lands unless the conditions warrant. The summit can be very windy with artic temperatures and severe wind chill. Be sure you are prepared for this.
Over Mount Marcy
Please see the Mount Marcy page on details on how to access the summit of Marcy. From the summit of Marcy you will descent off the south side toward Four-Corners and go over Schofield Cobble. The descent is fast and somewhat steep. It is 1.1 miles to the intersection; head straight ahead to access Mount Skylight.
The climb up Skylight from Four-Corners is steady and at times very steep. Once the trees get very short the trail can disappear under windblown and deep snow conditions, make your way to the summit as best you can but be sure to know where the trail is for the descent.
From Upper Works
From Upper Works follow the trail to Flowed Lands and Lake Colden which isn’t all that demanding and can be accomplished relatively fast. Once at Flowed Lands depending on ice conditions it is common practice to hike over the Flowed Lands to access the trail near Lake Colden. If you don’t like the idea of hiking over the frozen waters you can also opt to use the trail, which goes up and over several rolling hills, requiring additional elevation gain and loss.
From the dam hike along the Opalescent River and continue on the trail past the Uphill Lean-to and the intersection for Feldspar. The climb remains steady and eventually you will come to Lake Tear of the Clouds. You can also hike over this lake is you feel comfortable and the conditions are adequate. Once past the lake you are at Four-Corners where you need to take a right onto the trail. See above for the remaining portion of the trail to the summit of Mount Skylight.
Please refer to our basic list of winter gear recommendations for day trips, remember this list is only a recommendation, and you should take into consideration your experience, group size, length of trip, conditions, weather forecast, and any unforeseen incidences.