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Mount Marcy
Adirondack Mountains, New York State
October 5, 2007

Distance: 22.8 km (14.2 mi)
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 970 m (3182 ft

After climbing the second-highest peak in the Adirondack Mountains the day before, Dinah and I set off to do the highest peak, Mount Marcy, using the Van Hoevenberg Trail. Although it's not much higher than Algonquin, Marcy has a longer, easier approach. It's also the highest point in the State of New York. 

It was our second day in the Adirondacks and like the first day, it was hot, a record-breaking 26°C. (We were fortunate with the weather; the previous month saw the Adirondacks hit with snow.) Hoping to avoid the crowds and the midday heat, we started up the trail before 8:00 am. A popular peak, the mountain sees as many as 50 people an hour. Fortunately, this being a Friday, we encountered few people.

There was little elevation gain for the first section of the trail, and everywhere the fall colours filled us with awe. When the trail began to climb, however, the colourful deciduous trees gave way to evergreens. These trees blocked the views for the most part. Near the top, however, the trail rises above the treeline and follows rock slabs to the summit.

From the top of Mount Marcy, haze dimmed the view of distant peaks. After a half-hour stay on the summit, we started back down. We didn't look forward to the descent since there's little to see in the trees, but we did stop to walk to Indian Falls a short way from the trail. Although it was full of people, it was a pleasant place to take a break. Continuing down, we made it back to the trailhead less than 8 hours after setting off. Mount Marcy was the last peak we bagged in the Adirondacks during our short stay in Montreal.

When it comes to majestic peaks, the Adirondacks are no match for the Canadian Rockies near our home in Calgary, Alberta, but the fall colours in New York State outshine anything seen in the Rockies. In fact, autumn is the busiest time in the Adirondacks.


Hiking on Van Hoevenberg Trail

Stone walkway



Hiker with a 40-year-old wicker pack

Brilliant colours along the way

Maple leaves by a birch log

The trail narrows

Marcy Dam

View from the dam

Crossing a stream (there's also a bridge for crossing when the water is high)

First clear view of Mount Marcy from the trail

The summit ahead

Last planks before the summit

On the left, Phelps Mountain, 32nd highest peak

The only section that required scrambling

Mount Haystack, third highest peak in the Adirondack Mountains

Cairns and yellow paint mark the trail

Plaque on the summit (mouse over for a close-up)

Coleman (foreground), Algonquin and Wright Peaks (mouse over for a close-up)

Dinah checks her GPS

Indian Falls


Back into the fall colours

Rocky trail section

More fall colours

More colourful scenery

Red leaves litter the ground

Forest floor

Another view from Marcy Dam on the return

Clean Valley, Mount Marcy (14.2 mi, 5335 ft, 3159 ft)

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