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Adirondack High Peaks
High Peaks Wilderness
Mount Colden, at 4714 feet, is the eleventh highest peak in New York State. The peak is named after David S. Colden, an investor in the McIntyre Iron Works, in 1836. The peak was briefly renamed "Mount McMartin" the next year, but the older name persisted. The mountain is known for its distinctive Trap Dyke, a large crevice running up the center of the mountain, which can clearly be seen from Avalanche Lake.
There are two maintained trails up Mount Colden. The first, which approaches from the northeast, passes by Lake Arnold before ascending the summit after crossing over several false peaks. The second trail, which is steeper, approaches from the southwest, starting from Lake Colden. Both approaches can reached from the popular Adirondak Loj trailhead. After hiking from the Loj to the Avalanche Lean-Tos, climbers can head southwest through Avalanche Pass and past Avalanche Lake to reach Lake Colden and the trail to Colden from the southwest. Alternatively, they can head southeast to reach Lake Arnold and the northeast approach. Lake Colden and the southwest approach can also be reached from the Upper Works trailhead.
Mt. Colden Loop from Adirondack LOJ (14.8 miles)
Sign in to the register at the rear of the “Hiker parking lot” at Adirondack LOJ and head down the trail to Marcy Dam. At about 1 mile down the trail, a junction is reached with the trail to Algonquin. Stay to the left and follow the trail signs to Marcy Dam, which is reached about 1.3 miles later.
Once you reached Marcy Dam sign in at the second trail register and move along the water for just a bit before turning left on the Van Hovenberg Trail. At about 100 yards past the register, you come to a trail junction (on the right) that is Avalanche Pass Trail and you will head out that way. Another 1.1 miles, and you’ll pass over Marcy Brook (which has been to your right up till this point) and reach the Lean-to at Avalanche Camp. Right in front of the lean-to, you will see the Feldspar Brook Trail junction that heads left off the Avalanche Pass Trail. Take the left onto the trail.
The next 1.5 miles will take you up to Lake Arnold. The only thing to watch for is a trail (Indian Pass/Crossover Trail) that comes in from the left about 1 mile past Avalanche Camp. Just stay to the right (signs are posted that will direct you toward Lake Arnold). After 1.5 miles you’ll reach Lake Arnold after having gained about 1200 feet since Avalanche Camp.
At Lake Arnold, you’ll find the L. Morgan Porter Trail junction (on the right) that will lead you to the summit. At 1 mile past Lake Arnold you’ll come up on what is referred to as the “North Summit”. Its actually a false summit at about 4530 feet well short and below the real summit that is still a ways off. From there it is an easy traverse over to the actual summit.
At some arbitrary point on the summit, the Porter trail becomes the “Lake Colden to Mt. Colden Trail”. Once you continue steeply off this summit area, you will descend back into the trees. The next 1.4 miles will take you the rest of the way down to Lake Colden. It is a very steep trail that will descend about 2000 feet in 1.6 miles. At the bottom you’ll hit the Avalanche Pass Trail again at the shores of Lake Colden. Make a right at the trail junction and follow the trail along the lake. This trail will continue, with a few twists and turns past Lake Colden and over to Avalanche Lake (follow the signs).
Once past the lake, the trail will continue, fairly typically through the woods until you reach Avalanche Camp that you passed by earlier. From there, follow the reverse trail from the morning and head out past Marcy Dam and back to the LOJ. This hike has an overall elevation gain of 3800 feet and you can expect to spend the whole day hiking.
Directions: From Lake Placid, take NY 73 east out of town to the Adirondack LOJ Road about 2 miles past the ski jumps. Turn left and follow the road to it's end at the Adirondack LOJ.
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