Bear Den Trail to Dial Mountain and Nippletop

HARD 9 reviews
#45 of 175 trails in

Bear Den Trail to Dial Mountain and Nippletop is a 12.8 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Keene Valley, NY that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

12.8 miles 4002 feet Loop



mountain biking


trail running


cross country skiing





A strenuous hike via the Leach Trail that will take you over Bear Den, Dial (ADK High Peak @ 4020') and Nippletop (ADK High Peak 4620') returning via Elk Pass. Excellent trail experience and views. This hike is strenuous and can be difficult. It can be done in either direction via Leach (long, steady up) or Elk Pass (short, very steep up). The views from Bear Den are limited although there is an outcrop just past the "peak" that can be climbed and offers some nice views. Dial offers very nice views of the Great Range as well as Blake and Colvin. The trail from Dial to Nippletop follows the ridge and is an enjoyable walk with a very limited decent/ascent. The views from Nippletop into the Great Range and down through Elk Lake are breathtaking. the hike back down Elk Pass is very steep so take your time and then enjoy the walk along the river on your way back out.

16 days ago

This was a nice loop to do that hits 2 high peaks. I did the loop counter clockwise and climbed Nippletop first. I took Lake Road and the Gill Brook Cutoff to Elk Pass. The trail was muddy in places but you could navigate around it. The ascent up to Nippletop wasn't bad as you got good views of the Great Range. There was overcast and windy at the summit of Nippletop, so the views weren't the best. The were nice views from the summit of Dial of the Great Range. By hiking Nippletop first, you'll have the steep climb done and then you can cruise your way out through Dial. Bear Den summit was ok and Noonmark shoulder gives you great views of the Great Range. I would recommend doing the loop counter clockwise as I found it to be easier.

24 days ago

We took the gill brook trail to elk pass to nippletop then hit dial and bear den. It was a long beautiful day! I recommend counterclockwise loop!

3 months ago

step in the beginning. View is amazing.

9 months ago

Great loop that hits two high peaks. Nippletop has one of the best panoramas of all the 46.

1 year ago

Awesome trail. Summits were breath taking! I would do it again

1 year ago

Did a slight variation on the loop- started from the Ausable Country Club and walked up Lake Rd to the end where the trailhead for Indian Head is located. Amazing views of Lower and Upper Ausable Lake! Then we hiked past Fish Hawk Cliffs and up to the pond that feeds Gils Brook where we filtered extra water for the last push up Elks Pass. Trail here is very steep for about 1.5 miles. Then we hit the summit of Nippletop and headed back down to Dial and Bear Den. Not sure exactly how many miles this is total, probably 15-16. Took us about 12 hours- plenty of time at the viewpoints and for snacks along the way! Overall a great day hike! We camped at the base of Roaring Brook Falls and even though there was a good number of groups there (it was Labor Day weekend) it was quiet.

1 year ago

Excellent hike with amazing views! Challenging!

2 years ago

One my favorite hikes in the Adirondacks so far! Started from St. Hubert's and went Bear Den - Dial - Nippletop. Very strenuous hike but very rewarding, the hike down on Elk's Pass is crazy steep but offers great views all the way down and the short hike past the body of water that feeds into Gil Brook is beautiful. Beware of false summits!

4 years ago

Great hike! The leach Trail starts climbing right at the beginning and continues to climb until you reach Bear Den. No views at Bear Den but there is a nice "climb-able" outcrop nearby that offers great views. Both Dial and Nippletop are enjoyable peaks but Nippletop offers amazing views. Our GPS logged us at just over 14.5 miles. This is a difficult hike with very little if any water sources once on Leach Trail so be prepared with a well packed daypack.