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Avalanche Lake Mount Marcy Loop Trail

HARD 29 reviews
#15 of 39 trails in

Avalanche Lake Mount Marcy Loop Trail is a 17.4 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Lake Placid, New York that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

17.4 miles
3,802 feet

dogs on leash




nature trips

bird watching











This is an epic hike that will gain you three more Adirondack 46er peaks of Gray Mountain, Mt Skylight and Mt Marcy; the State Highpoint. Be sure to pay attention to the trail junctions as there a few. You'll pass by a few lakes and the start of the mighty Hudson River. This is a long day trip which will take about 10-12 hours and 17 miles of hiking. Start off my heading towards Marcy Dam which is about 2 miles from the lodge/parking area. The dam will be the start and end of the loop. Make sure to use bear canisters as black bears frequent the area if your spending the night. From here you want to head out on the trail towards Avalanche Pass which you will leave before you actually reach Avalanche Pass. You will come to a trail junction and head towards Lake Arnold on the east side of Mt. Colden. There will be a trail heading off to your left to Indian Falls. Ignore it and keep heading towards Lake Arnold. When you reach Lake Arnold you'll see the trail heading up Colden. Ignore this as you definitely won't want to add another big peak this hike. You'll start heading downhill from Lake Arnold until you meet up with the Feldspar Brook Trail that will bring you up to Lake Tear of the Clouds between all the summits. This is the start of the Hudson River and also the start of Gray Peak. There are a few cairns that marks the trail for Gray Peak (#9 on 46'er list) so be sure to keep you eyes peeled for it. The hike up is steep and there is some hard hand over hand climbing so take your time. It only takes about 25-30 miles to the summit. From there you can see Mt Marcy and Mt Skylight and several others. Once your back down, keep heading down the trail to 4 corners. From there, turn right heading up Mt Skylight (#4 on 46'er list) which is about another 20-30 minutes to the bald summit. More amazing views from there so take your time and enjoy. Climb back down the way you came and now you can climb up the back side of Mt. Marcy. Once you are past the tree line it can be very windy and cold so be ready. Your now on top of the tallest mountain in New York at 5,344ft (#1 on 46'er list). Once you've taken all the pictures and videos of the most amazing views you'll see, don't back track. Head toward the Von Hoevenberg Trail towards Indian Falls / Marcy Dam. Indian Falls is a short trek off the main trail but a good resting spot. Keep heading towards Marcy Dam and then back to the lodge to finish your day.

6 months ago

Yea me and my friends are idiots who decided to start with Avalanche lake and then go to Mt. Marcy. Also we were also stupid and decided to do it all in one day. It took us 16 hours to complete the hike.

Because of the timing and which way we started, our descent of Mt. Marcy was after sunset-

***side note*** the sunset on top of Mt. Marcy moved me to tears

- and we had to hike another 6 miles in the dark. I’m not the epitome of fitness but I’ve been able to keep up on my fair share of hikes, but this was definitely the toughest I have done so far.

If you are not a highly seasoned hiker who is in incredible shape, DO NOT do this all in one day or you will end up in the same situation me and friends were in.

Also, AllTrails may say it’s only a 3k elevation gain, but its way more than that

7 months ago

The trip was incredible, however we were disappointed to find no Macy’s at the summit

7 months ago

Everyone always takes the Van Hovenberg Trail when they go up Marcy... You are missing 95% of what the area has to offer. Avalanche Lake is stunning and is one of the most beautiful places in the world. This should be the one and only trail to take when going up Mount Marcy.

The trail is long and difficult. It would be preferable to do it as a 2 day trip. Avid, athletic, and experienced hikers however can get it done as an 11-12 hour day hike.

My new favorite way up Marcy. Highly recommended.

8 months ago

Did this loop on July 21/22, 2018 with two friends. This is not a 16.7 mile loop as this app claims. It is 18.4 miles. That’s per the Adirondack Mountain Club trail maps, not an inaccurate GPS tracker.

We hiked in on a Friday evening, starting just after 6:30P. First couple miles are pretty uneventful up until Marcy Dam. Some very modest ups and downs on some very gentle terrain. Shortly after Marcy Dam, where the trail splits between Van Hoevenberg and Avalanche Pass trail(name?), things start getting both tougher and steeper, but still not what I
would consider particularly difficult. This continues for another mile or so. Once you pass the sign that no camping beyond this point, things get steeper still. At this point the trail is moderately challenging unless you’re in good physical condition.

We ended our day 1 journey after just over 4 miles, as darkness was setting in at 8:45, and at that point we had made it to Indian Falls. Indian Falls is a very short distance off the trail, and provides a gorgeous rock bluff with a small water feature and beautiful views of Algonquin, Wright and Iroquois across the way.

Indian Falls is not open to camping anymore, due to erosion. It used to be a designated camp area, and it shows as there are clearings throughout the area. I am not one for breaking park rules, but we were extremely respectful of the land, left no trace, and hammock camped as opposed to setting up tents on the vegetation, so I don’t feel bad about it. The views were just too stunning to pass up. And the night sky was incredible.

From there, we rose at 5:00A to pack up, have a quick bite and push on to the summit. The remaining 3+ miles to the top were mostly steep and rugged, but very little in the way of any exposure or scrambles. Pretty vanilla stuff. But the views to the east as you enter the alpine zone are nothing short of spectacular. I’ve hiked the biggest peaks in all parts of the northeast states and these views take the cake. The volume, depth and density of adjacent high peaks on a clear day make for and absolutely stunning panorama that quite literally takes your breath away. It is well worth the 12 mile out and back trip to this point just to take this in, even if you didn’t go any further. Someday I will catch a sunrise from this spot. It became an instant bucket list item.

The last stretch to the summit is a bit rocky and has a couple interesting parts. But nothing like what you’ll find for scrambles on a Katahdin, Adams or even Monadnock. But the 360 views at the top are excellent. Very little crowds when we were there. We summited just before 9:00A.

Heading down toward Tear of the Clouds, Lake Colden and Avalanche Pass from there, the first couple miles of descent are rough on the knees. You lose a lot of elevation in a short amount of time, putting a ton of stress on knee joint stabilizers. If you have knee problems, this will trigger them, no doubt. From there it levels off and is very moderate for the remaining 9 or so miles, with a few short exceptions. However the terrain is very rooty and rocky for the entire duration. It’s a tough one on the feet. But a very serene setting. Very peaceful wilderness with endless eye candy in the way of mountain and lake views. Avalanche lake is a treat. Gorgeous setting. Great place to stop for lunch and dip your feet in the cool waters. The ladder and ramps offer some interesting play along the way.

From Avalanche Lake back, it’s a 5+ mile slog to the trail head in which your feet and knees are begging for mercy. But it was all well worth the pain.

Great trip, great trails. Would definitely do it again, pain and all.

8 months ago

This trail has some of the most amazing views and some of the hardest terrain you’ll find in the East Coast but it’s all worth it when you get to the highest point in New York State

8 months ago

Great hike! Took my 5 month old Vizsla and made it all the way to Mt. Marcy and back with no problems. The receptionist at the camping office was super rude but other than that it was a great weekend.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Great trails but really need snowshoes in the avalanche pass , be well prepare in winter . A lot of « lean-to » near the trails. Enjoy !

Sunday, July 30, 2017

We've done a variation of it: from ADK Loj - Marcy Dam - Marcy - 4 Corners - Skylight - Tear of Clouds - Colden lake - Avalanche lake - back to Dam and Loj.
~3 hours to Marcy summit. Break for 30 mins. 1 hour to Skylight and back to 4 Corners.
We were moving at a good pace although mud slowed us down and completed the loop in ~ 11 hours.
It is a great hike, excellent views from summits and by the lake shore. Nothing too difficult but requires quite a bit of stamina.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Did the loop as an clockwise overnighter staying at Feldspar after summiting Mt. Marcy. Was a beautiful hike and the views from atop Marcy are breathtaking. Liked the clock-wise direction because it gave us plenty of time to enjoy Marcy and then having more time at gorgeous Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake the next day. Wasn't easy and it's not a hike if you're looking for solitude during the summer months, but it's a trip that I'd happily do again.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Hardest hike I've done in my life! The section around the lake is both technical and fun. So many views. This hike took 11 hours so start early. I'm not a slow hiker either. This one will challenge you.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

great hike on a August weekend. a little bit of an adventure at times but made all three gray skylight Marcy in one day with my gf.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Incredible and beautigul -yet also, for a day hike ,long and physically demanding -worth it

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Awesome! Highly recommended!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Great hike. Started at 10 and ended at 7:30 in the dark. Challenging but doable in a day. Bring a headlamp unless you start earlier. GPS said over 18 miles and 5,000+ feet of elevation gain.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Mt Skylight only from the loj. Definitely a long hike, start early. Very peaceful and quiet the entire Sunday. I think I only saw a handful of other hikers.

Monday, May 25, 2015

It was a great trail. Lots of amazing views. Not too much snow. In the 18 miles there was maybe less then a mile of snow, less then a foot deep and it was thinning pretty quickly. Gray peak was a little hard with the climbing. There was no trail, but a pretty decent herd path. Gray and Skylight both took about 30 minutes to summit. Marcy took about 45 minutes because of how steep she is. But coming down off Marcy was long, with lots of boulder hopping. Overall, it was a great day.

3 months ago

7 months ago

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

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