Big Slide has to be one of the best views of the High Peaks with the Great Range unfolding right before you. I lucked out that the weather cleared up after some rain and overcast skies for a perfect hike with warm (but not hot) temperatures and perfect clear ski. The one down side was that it was wet, slippery, and at times the trail became a mud filled bath or washed away to a raging river. That being said loved the hike for spectacular views throughout the day – even if my feet were soaking wet and lost most of my big toenail to the ADK gods.
I took the approach starting from the Garden Parking lot over the Three Brothers (Three separate peaks). The brothers protect Big Slide with all the might that only brothers can.
The first .4 miles is an easy hike with a slight incline before crossing Juliet Brook (oh only if I knew how much water I would see), and steady moderate climb to some “steeper” pitches (steep is a relative term – it was more of a crevice in rock wall but compared to later inclines was cake. My new hiking poles were amazing to save my knees and hip for later). Until reaching a nice resting ledge at .8 with views of Keene Vally and the Great Range.
Some more woods before hitting ledges, open rock and pitches (a.k.a rock scrambles) to the First Brother at 1.5miles offering more great views. Then onto traversing the open summit, rock ledges, and yes watch your steep or the fall looks to be a slide off the side while making my way to the Second Brother at 1.8.
Of the three Brothers the second was my favorite, an open summit (compared the Third mostly in the woods) and offers views of both Big Slide and the First Brother. The Third Brother is a bit anticlimactic compared and is mostly in the woods but does offer one ledge for a great view of Big Slide and the first peek at it’s namesake.
From the Third Brother the trail descends into a mature spruce forest. My pictures do not do it justice. I saw not a soul in this part of the hike with only the penetrating smell of life (a.k.a spring and soil) while winter was still shaking off its grips (yes there was ice and snow). The deep green moss covering everything seemed to be a scene from some sort of magical movie with little light coming through the darkness was a stark contrast to the open summits from the Brothers. But boy was there mud and water. If I had known how the day would of turned out I would not of wasted so much energy and time trying to keep my feet dry
At 3.2, after crossing a stream, it climbs steeply to 3.7 and this is where it gets real. I ran into a group of three guys who were as winded as me and looking up at the rock climbing ahead. They remarked how this isn’t hiking it’s rock climbing! My response: Welcome to the Adirondacks. The last 0.3 climbs 700 feet and the log ladders were welcome. The last scramble/rock climbing section reminded me once again that Mother Nature does not think of us short(er) peeps.
The summit is wooded, with an excellent open rock cliff that faces southeast, towards the entire great range. The view was spectacular! You can see a 180˚ panorama, from Giant, all the way to Algonquin. It was such a beautiful clear day I could see my home state of Vermont distinctive Camel’s Hump Mountain in the distance.
After enjoying a longer rest than usual, chatting it up with others at the summit and soaking in all that the views have to offer decided to make it a loop trip and descent via Slide Mountain Brook Trail. I heard from peeps who took it up that it wasn’t that wet and offered no scrambles/rock climbing though 1.5 miles longer (I was not looking forward to going down some of those rock-climbing pitches while slippery and with tired legs).
Want to know how many times you cross the brook? Eight. Yes eight times. No biggie in low water but this calm brook was a raging river, taking over the trail in numerous parts. Usual stepping stones and even a couple of planks were all washed away. After spending far too much time trying to find a safe (and dry) crossing for my short 5’4″ legs I gave in and just walked across in the water. Boy that water is ice cold!
No biggie, right? Right. Well minus that one crossing where the water was up to my hips. Thank you to fast drying shorts! The one nice thing is I no longer tried to avoid mud or wet spots. What’s the point, right? And found the best footing for the fastest (safe) pace.
Once you hit John Brook Lodge (or just short of it) it’s an easy 3 miles to the Garden parking lot. But those 3miles take longer than you think and while it is easy walk it gets a bit old after a while. That being said I enjoyed the fast clip and no more river crossings!
Can’t say enough about what a beautiful hike, with open summits, great views, deep mature forest, roaring brooks – yep it has it all. However, my feet did not fair so well. Essentially being wet most of the trip, once I was home, realized that most of my big toenail had come detached. I guess it didn’t like all the river crossings.
Big Slide: completed 05/17/2014, total distance 10.5miles, Elevation 4240, Order of height 27, hike time: 9 hrs