Mount Marcy – the highest peak in the Adirondacks, and also the highest peak in the state of New York. What started out as an idea to go down to the Adirondacks to do some mountain biking eventually turned into a last minute quest to climb Mount Marcy. Follow along with me as I climb to the summit and back.
Climbing Mount Marcy
What: A 23km hike to the summit of Mount Marcy and back down
A Big Climb
Friday night – the pub – I mentioned casually that I was going to go down to the Adirondacks and pick up a few mountain bike trails for kicks on a Saturday afternoon, when some friends of mine suggested that I climb to the top of Mount Marcy. After a few bits of Wiki wisdom, a couple Youtube videos, and a few more beers I figured hey why not – wouldn’t that be a great adventure!
Mount Marcy is 1,629m in elevation and is by far the most difficult climb I have completed to date.
A Very Long Day
I started off in Ottawa around 8:30am, grabbed a morning coffee and some supplies from the local grocery store and made my way down through the Ogdensburg bridge. Unfortunately, there was a pretty big detour at the 416 where it meets the 401 and I did not even make it to the Adirondack Loj until close to 1:00pm. It’s a pretty long drive from Ottawa – on a good day, about 3 and a half hours.
It was an overcast day with temperatures around 15 degrees Celsius – a light breeze as well, so pretty much perfect hiking weather, since I tend to run a little hot. I was loaded up with around 4 litres of water and Gatorade, a handful of granola bars and fruit bars, and a few bananas, a fleece, some bug spray, a headlamp, flashlight, and a small first aid kit.
The park staff all expressed their concern that I was starting so late in the day. Typically, it takes 6 to 7 hours to summit Mount Marcy. I did bring a headlamp and a backup flashlight, as well as a small first aid kit, but I did not want to be stuck in the dark going down the slick, muddy rocks. On the other hand, I also did not drive for 4 hours to not make it to the top – time to make haste!
Here’s the full video I put together of the hike from the car all the way to the summit and back down:
The hike up Mount Marcy is pretty difficult, there’s no question about that. The first few kilometres are nice, with groomed trails, but once you get past the dam, large rocks begin to dominate the trail. On this particular day it was very muddy, and the rock surfaces were quite slick in many areas.
I made it up in a quick 3 hours and 8 minutes from my parking spot – that is fast for this trail. It took me a little over 3 and a half hours to make it back down, and let me tell you – around the 5 hour mark, I was really starting to feel the fatigue affect my ability to climb safely. My elevated pace had caught up with me – good thing for snack breaks.
In hindsight, I would plan to take a longer time hiking up the mountain. Somewhere around 10 hours to go up and back down seems appropriate, so that you can enjoy the sights. Plan to pack a lunch and a light dinner, bring lots of water, and comfortable shoes, since you will spend most of your time on hard, rocky surfaces.
An incredible hike, and a great challenge, with almost 1000m of vertical climbing on this particular trail (Van Hoevenberg Trail fyi). Highly recommended for anyone looking for a full day out. Try to take it in on a clear day, so you can enjoy the view at the top!