Nippletop is most often climbed with Dial Mountain – due to it being along the same ridge. Dial is located centrally along a very long ridge which requires the hiker to summit either Nippletop first (primary trail) or the shoulder of Noonmark Mountain and Bears Den Mountain (secondary trail). Dial has amazing views from a large boulder located on the summit, the views are limited to the west, but that’s High Peaks Region, not too shabby. The approach to Nippletop and Dial is on the private land of the Adirondack Mountain Reserve. While hiking is guaranteed by virtue of an easement, NO DOGS are permitted in this 100+ year game preserve.
This Adirondack 46 High Peak is number 13 on the 46er list.
Consider combining the primary and secondary trails below for a loop - highly recommended.
Trailhead: Leave Lake Placid on Rte 73, follow Rte 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 is a 13.4 mile RT if you do not decide to combine the two trails. The loop would be shorter in distance, but a bit more demanding. Don’t forget Dial is also along the ridge for a twofer peak day. The hike starts along a road for 0.5 miles to a left turn down between two tennis courts onto Lake Road Way which soon reaches an entrance station. Just past the entrance station is a wooden gate, where you will continue along a dirt road for an additional 2.5 miles before you enter a foot trail. The foot trail starts off very moderate but continues to get steeper in sections. You will pass by a trail for Indian Head and then another for Fish Hawk Cliffs before finally reaching the trail for Colvin and Blake. As you pass by this trail you will be on a somewhat mellow climb to Elk Pass. Elk Pass is a gorgeous destination is itself. As you pass through the three beaver ponds you will some to the base of a very steep ascent.
This ascent will bring you to within 0.1 miles of the summit of Nippletop to your right. This climb is still a bit challenging to the summit. The trail is narrow in spots, but views are continuous.
Family with Young Kids: Not recommended – all trails
Experienced Hiker: Primary trail – 3 to 4 hours to summit,
Out of Shape Hiker: Not recommended – all trails
Most Popular Winter Trailhead
Round Trip Distance
15.0 miles, Nippletop only, 14.5 miles with Dial (loop)
Average Round-trip Time
10+ hours in either direction
Winter Obstacles to be Aware Of
Nothing out of the ordinary
Nippletop has two routes used in the winter, but this is typically because it would be a loop with Dial Mountain. This loop is the primary route used, so the entire loop is in good condition.
From the summit of Dial
From the summit of Dial you will have an almost immediate steep descent followed by a moderate and easy hike for quite a while. The climb up Nippletop is quite moderate as well, spacing out the elevation change over a couple miles. There is an intersection just before the summit, left leads shortly to the open summit with great views and right leads downhill to Elk Pass.
Via Elk Pass
From the parking lot you will need to follow the road to the AMR gate which is 0.7 miles away. Once through the gate you will continue along Lake Road for around 2.5 miles to the trail for Elk Pass on the left. The trail to Elk Pass climbs steadily but never too demanding. Be sure to remain on the Elk Pass Trail and not get detoured up Indian Head, Fish Hawk Cliffs, or Colvin.
Once in Elk Pass you will pass by a few beaver ponds and start a very steep climb, constant climb up to the ridge. Once on the ridge you will need to take a right to the summit, which is quite close; left leads to Dial Mountain.
Some photos courtesy hikingadirondacks.blogspot.com Read their blog post about this hike!