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Avalanche Lake Mount Marcy Loop Trail

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High Peaks Wilderness

Avalanche Lake Mount Marcy Loop Trail is a 20 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.

Distance: 20.0 miles Elevation Gain: 3,802 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

backpacking

camping

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wildlife

bugs

muddy

rocky

scramble

This is a long day trip which will take about 10-12 hours and 17 miles of hiking. Start off by 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 you plan on 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. Disregard this and 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 you're 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. You're 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.

bugs
muddy
rocky
scramble
11 days ago

Very difficult trail but rewarding. Alltrails says this loop is 17.4 miles but we calculated 20.5 miles. Lots of beautiful views, although it was a bit muddy, it's not as bad as other reviews mentioned around this time of year. would recommend doing this as a backpacking overnight trip as it can be very exhausting trying to complete the full loop in one day. Just completed this trail on 6/26/20.

hiking
bugs
flooded
muddy
rocky
scramble
20 days ago

This hike was such a great experience. Added Mount Skylight to the loop, which brought it to 18.8 miles total. We went through Avalanche Pass and Lake Colden first, on our way in, which brought us up the back side to summit Mount Marcy.

backpacking
bugs
flooded
muddy
rocky
scramble
23 days ago

hiking
icy
muddy
1 month ago

We took a modified version via Arnold lake trail, and very muddy. We did not have micro spikes so that made it harder. Walking through deep snow melt puddles

hiking
1 month ago

Great view! Worth it for sure, and can be done as a loop. Included Algonquin instead of staying down in the valley- which I strongly recommend. In general, there was still a lot of snow, ice, mud and water! Especially down Marcy going clockwise. Expect to go much slower than you usually would for similar hike. The elevation gain/loss is steep, and with the ice/water/mud, it gets technical (but not as bad as Algonquin going down south). Microspike were very useful.

hiking
muddy
rocky
snow
1 month ago

I do not recommend taking a dog on this hike. As most people said, this is a VERY difficult hike. I've done sections of the AT, but never anything with this combination of mud/water, steepness, and boulder-crossing. Despite some recently very warm weather, there was still slick snow for miles on both sides of Marcy's peak. Stepping to either side of the edge of the packed snow meant falling waist-deep in most spots. Along Avalanche Lake, the ladders and ramps are interesting and fun - but NOT with a dog. I had to carry mine up and down ladders and over some of the bigger gaps between boulders, which was very dangerous and scary. All that said, the views along the backside of Marcy, Lake Colden, and Avalanche Lake are absolutely stunning. We stayed the night at the South end of Lake Colden before summiting Marcy and completing the loop on day 2. In total, because of the dog and because we were through-hiking with full backpacks, it took about 16 hours over 18+ miles.

hiking
muddy
8 months ago

Amazing trail, got a little hard to spot the trail markers coming up the back side of Marcy but nothing too out of place, hiked it in late august an trails were muddy as all hell but made for a amazing all day trip. Lots an lots of views of waterfalls an mountains an some technical trail too. Very rocky in parts.

hiking
muddy
rocky
10 months ago

I did this as a day hike on 8/21 knowing it was gonna be wet as hell, but despite absolutely flooded trails between Avalanche Lake and Mt Marcy it is a beautiful hike and I'd love to do it again with better summiting conditions to knock off of few more 46s. I started at the trail head at 5:45am and was back at the parking area at 3pm. I was going at a pretty intense pace because of the weather but even after the elevation was behind me this is among the most challenging trails I've done. I took only one short break this entire hike so I don't suggest you barrel through as I did. Plan for at least 11 of hiking. I did this loop clockwise with summiting Marcy before a thunderstorm rolled in as my main goal. I was on the trail head at 5:40am and was able to be on the summit by about 8:45 hiking at a very brisk pace. Visibility was extremely low on top of Marcy and as an experienced hiker I found it extremely challenging to locate the trail markers heading down the backside of the summit. There is a fairly large expanse on the rock face where the paint markers weren't discernable and there were no cairns near enough to be visible through the fog. It took me several trys walking down the summit then back up before I was able to stumble across the marked trail so be careful if your weather outlook isn't favorable. They call this mountain cloud splitter for a reason. Sections of the trail between Marcy and Lake Colden are reportedly very muddy even on a dry day and it is not an easy trail to begin with. For me there was enough rain that I may as well have been hiking down a creek. It was impossible to stay dry and you had to be super vigilant to make it over/around the rocks and roots. Even as a fit hiker I found it challenging, but it's a pretty exciting trek with lots of variation. I wasn't able to summit any of the other peaks along the trail because of lightning and the lack of visibility but I imagine in better weather I'd have taken more time to get in at least grays and skylight and enjoy the waterfalls along the opalescent river.

hiking
muddy
rocky
10 months ago

backpacking
11 months ago

We summited the first day then stayed at the campsite near lake Arnold trail 2miles from the peak. Challenging but very worth it.

hiking
muddy
rocky
scramble
11 months ago

hiking
private property
11 months ago

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