This hike features a treed summit and some steep portions of the trail. However, there are spectacular views from the summit rock. The Wolf Jaws got their names because a painter, Alexander Wyant, said the deep col between them resembled a wolf's jaw.
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: 4,185 feet
- Elevation gain: Depends on which trail is taken. See below.
- Distance: Depends on which trail is taken. See below.
- Upper Wolf Jaw is High Peak #29
- Follow Leave No Trace principles
There are two routes to the summit of Upper Wolf Jaw 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 preserve. (If you do want to take your dog, use the secondary trailhead from the Garden.)
This is 4.2 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.
Following the West River Trail, the footpath starts right behind the gatehouse. It follows the bank of the Ausable River, featuring views of distant mountains and river pools. 2 miles from the parking lot, you reach the Wedge Brook Trail. From here, the trail climbs steeply to a possible campsite 3.2 miles from the parking lot. Once again, the trail starts climbing steeply to a cut off with the State Range Trail which leads to Upper Wolf Jaw. This is at 3.6 miles and the cut off is 0.3 miles long. From here's it's less than a mile to Upper Wolf Jaw, but you'll have to work for the summit. The trail is very steep to a false summit; the actual summit is 0.4 miles away. There is a short spur trail leading 20 yards to a view.
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 (not maintained) 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 Upper Wolfjaw goes left past the DEC Interior Outpost to a bridge over Johns Brook. Stay straight immediately after the bridge and begin the climb up to the ADK Range Trail.
From the Outpost, you'll climb steady and pass by two campsites within 0.4 and 0.6 miles. Around one mile from the Outpost, cross over a debris field from a slide. The trail climbs moderately from here until it reaches the intersection of the trail coming from AMR 2 miles from the Outpost. From here's it's less than a mile to Upper Wolf Jaw, but you'll have to work for the summit. The trail is very steep to a false summit; the actual summit is 0.4 miles away. There is a short spur trail leading 20 yards to a view.
- Ascent from JBL: 2,000 feet
- Distance: 6 miles, one way
This trail is a steady climb but not a difficult one. On most days the trail is packed solid by heavy use. The final climb isn’t all that steep, but it is the steepest portion of the day.