After three weeks since my last hike I was itching to get out on the trail. But really I can’t complain. In those three weeks I enjoyed two weekends of sailing lessons. Yep. I’m now official for low wind up to 15mph. And had a weekend home to the southern ADKs for a fabulous family weekend.
After my last hike up Marcy in complete cloud cover I was due for some sun and open view. This hike delivered. Due to the weather it meant hiking on Sunday with no recovery day but was so worth it. And my feet were sure happy with some extra rest time between hikes. And happy feet mean a happy hike.
Starting from the ADK Loj via the Hoevenberg Trail the first mile is on a well worn trail and mostly flat. At about a mile you come to the jct. to Algonquin Peak Trail (trail 64). Starts at an easy incline with a few steep pitches. The trail reaches the jct. with the Whales Tail trail at 1.5 miles. Bearing right at the jct., the trail is pretty rough with lots of rock and climbs moderately and then steeply. But all things considered and compared to other trails nothing too challenging. At 2 miles you cross a brook on to a switchback and then continues on a rocky and rough climb.
It gets a pretty steep that will get the blood pumping but then levels for a bit and climbs steeply again to a flat area at 3.1 mi. And climbing over one final steep rock scramble and easing just before reaching the jct. with the spur trail to Wright Peak at 3.4 miles.
At this point I felt like really? I’m already at the Wright junction. There is such a difference compared to so many hikes that can be hours and 5+ miles in before you even reach the “trail”.
Taking the Wright trail to the left it climbs steadily to timberline at .02 and was particularly slick and wet (oh joy). Once leaving the timberline the route is marked with cairns up the bare rock ridge. It just keeps going and going with your calves in full burning mode and reaching the summit at .4 miles. And boy, bang for your buck this must be one of the best. Only a few hours in and beautiful 360 views.
A bit off the summit there is a bronze plague on a large vertical rock face that memorializes four airmen who lost their lives in the crash of a US Air Force bomber in 1962. Some parts of the ill-fated aircraft are still visible.
Now a ‘quick’ jaunt down to the jct. and onto Algonquin. The Algonquin trail begins to climb steeply, going up over several sections of smooth rock – that again were slippery and wet. And one in particular that just kept going and going. A few peeps going down used the very technical butt slide technique.
It levels just before reaching the tree-line. From the timberline the trail is marked with cairns and yellow painted blazes. There are some fun scrambles that will make you catch your breathe. And what feels like a long continual climb up the open rock summit. You can’t see all the way to the top so you think you’re at the last cairn – you are so wrong.
I can’t say enough about the Algonquin summit. The 2nd highest peak in the ADKs and completely breathtaking. It is spectacular and expansive, with a great view of Mt. Colden with its many slides and famous dike. Really it was perfect with the epic views, beautiful weather with just a tint of a breeze. Thank you ADK weather gods.
Continuing down the other side on open rock face and meets the Lake Colden trail at the treeline. The junction to the “unmarked” herd-path is directly next to the trail marker indicating left for the Colden Trail. However, some (insert expletive) wrote “Iroquois” in the yellow arrow. And in my quick pace took it for being the direction to Iroquois – when it was the steep as hell trail down to Colden Lake. This is why we can’t have nice things.
After a very, very steep decent I realized my error and now had to climb back up. I was beat and sure glad I didn’t ascend up Colden. Adding an extra hour+ to my day and by far the hardest part of the day. I was bitter during that whole time. I spoke to a trail steward at Algonquin and she said that hikers keep marking it. Seriously. Just don’t be an asshole.
After hiking back up to the col the herd-less path enters the woods, starts off easy, dips down, crosses some wet sections over bridges and then climbs quickly to the summit of the Boundary Peak at .4 mi. You now descend over open rock, enter the woods for a few hundred yards, and finally climbs steeply up and to the summit of Iroquois Peak summit at 1.1 miles from Algonquin. Some clouds moved in so my pictures don’t do the view justice. Luckily after a quick hike back to Algonquin the sun returned for one last look at the spectacular views. Going back up Algonquin took a bit longer and feels steeper than going down but nothing like the damn Colden trail (yep still bitter).
All and all one of the “easier” of the highest peaks ticking of four mountains and three 46ers. I will be revisiting this hike many times in the years to come. I’m putting it in on my top 10 favorite list for sure. Bottom-line – it is all kinds of awesome:)
Pro-tip: Hikers don’t write on markers!? DEC many, many thanks for all you do but letting the ADK Club put signage up for the herd-paths would be much appreciated. And if not that then arrows next to herd-path entrances are less than ideal placing location. But really hikers stop writing on signs.
What’s in store next? Glad you asked. Haystack. I’ll be tackling that one this coming weekend. And for once I’m being a weather snob – taking a page from my Uncle Dave’s book – since it is one hike I won’t do in cloud clover. ADK Gods please send me your good karma.