Rocky Peak Ridge
Rocky Peak Ridge is the 20th highest peak in the Adirondacks at 4,420 feet in elevation. It offers outstanding views from its summit, and is usually less-crowded than neighboring Giant.
The shortest route to the summit goes nearly to the summit of Giant before descending and then climbing to Rocky Peak Ridge. Using the Ridge Trail, it is 4.1 miles to the summit from Chapel Pond.
The most scenic route - a hike that some consider the finest in the mountains - starts from Rt. 9 south of New Russia. It is 6.7 miles to the summit with 4,700' of elevation gain due to several descents on the climb. With two cars, one can make a wonderful traverse of 11 miles by continuing on to Giant Mt. (add another 600' of elevation gain) and descending the ridge Trail. See Giant Mountain for instructions for approach via the Chapel Pond area, and see Bald Peak for Route 9 approach.
Families with young children: Not recommended
Experienced hiker: Via Giant: 3 hrs to summit; From Route 9: 5 hours to summit; Traverse: 8-9 hours
Out of Shape Hiker: Not recommended
Rocky Peak Ridge (RPR)
Most Popular Winter Trailhead
Round Trip Distance
Average Round-trip Time
Winter Obstacles to be Aware Of
This trail is very steep and with steep comes icy conditions in many short sections. The ice tends to be a bit more hazardous on the descent rather than the climb. The summit of RPR is very winter on a typical day, wind and face protection is a must. The open ridge can have white-out conditions, even though rare.
This trail is the most popular winter route to the summit of Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge (RPR), but following a close second is the Roaring Brook Trail. A third trail to the summit leads from New Russia but in winter this is a very long course and generally gets little to no use.
RPR is a short abbreviation for the mountain and in conversations will often be referred to as such. As part of a long ridge with Giant the prime route does require you climb Giant first from this side.
From the trailhead you will start to climb steady and steep right off the bat as you make way to the first lookout out over Chapel Pond which is one fine view of the valley. Then you pass by Devils Washbowl and again start a steady moderate to steep climb up the ridge past the Giant Nubble Trail that comes in on the left. The trail along the exposed ridge tends to be a very wind packed section of terrain and is about as beautiful area and sweeping views as you can find in the High Peaks.
Once past the exposed area you will enter the trees again and hike a rolling trail with still some climbing to do, but much more moderate. Pass by the Roaring Brook Trail that comes in on the left and finish off on the ridge to the trail to Rocky Peak Ridge that will come in on the right, 0.2 miles from the summit of Giant.
From here you will drop very steeply and lose a ton of elevation as you need to descend into a high col between the two peaks. The descent is fast and there will probably be some butt sliding involved. The climb on the other side up to the summit of RPR is very moderate and not that steep at all. The climb goes by very quick as you break tree-line and stand atop the open rocky summit. The climb back up and over Giant can actually feel quite grueling at the end of a day just take it slow and enjoy the experience.
If you are climbing RPR it is highly recommended that you get Giant as well, being only 0.2 miles away and all; unless of course you got Giant on a previous trip and just needed RPR.
While snowshoes for traction are usually enough you can opt to use crampons, but snowshoes still need to be part of your equipment. Balaclava, mitts, and wind protection for the open summit.