Avalanche Pass and Avalanche Lake Trail

HARD 48 reviews
#28 of 186 trails in

Avalanche Pass and Avalanche Lake Trail is a 10 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near North Elba, New York that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

10.0 miles
1,335 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash



cross country skiing


nature trips







wild flowers





This is a wonderful hike into a beautiful cliff-lined alpine lake deep in the heart of the Adirondack High Peaks Region This is a wonderful hike from Adirondack Loj to Avalanche Lake in between Mt. Colden and Algonquin. You'll climb along ladders and bridges bolted directly to the cliff walls around the lake. The views up the slides and trapdike towards the top of Colden are incredible.

1 month ago

Fantastic trail. Rocky on the climb but not bad. Only a bit of snow/ ice at the pass as of 5/23, but slippery.

2 months ago

Awesome little trail. Stayed at lake colden under my tarp for a quick in and out overnighter, it rained the whole time but it was fun nontheless. I definitely have no idea why this trail is rated hard though, there's a few rock scrambles that kids or older people (maybe some smaller dogs) might have trouble with at avalanche lake, but other than that it's mostly flat.

3 months ago

GREAT trail! I especially liked the bouldering along the lake. Started at the Adirondak Loj/Heart Lake. We camped at the tip of Lake Colden to try out some gear for a backpacking trip. Beautiful hike and mostly flat, just have to negotiate some large rocks. Definitely want to get back out on this one.

5 months ago

Accidentally took this trail at first, but we stuck with it and turns out it was very worth it! The lake was frozen over, we walked the entire length of it over the ice through the valley. We passed the dike walls, and the steep rocks while crossing the lake. Was surreal views. I plan on visiting this trail in the summer to see the lake when it is actually water! Would recommend to see this in the winter (even if you don’t walk across the ice).

11 months ago

Good trail. The conditions are muddy, so be prepared to get dirty. If you are planning on camping, it's worth to continue hiking towards Colden Lake, as the Adirondack's Club very particular about camping sites in that region. Also, no campfires allowed, so bring propane stoves. Bears are very active in the region, so bring a canister or rent one out from the lodge.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Avalanche Lake Trail Closure 8/15-8/25, no thru access along Avalanche Lake.

During this time the DEC and SCA Adirondack Corps will be working on the Hitch-Up Matildas and hikers will not be able to pass thru Avalanche Lake. Access thru Avalanche Pass to the head of the lake and from Lake Colden to the outlet will be possible. Signage will be posted at Avalanche Camps and Lake Colden, as well as Upper Works, ADK Loj and South Meadows.

Please plan ahead for trips during this time period. Also note that the trail from Feldspar to Lake Arnold has some flooded portions of the trail that are worsened with rain.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Great hike. Beautiful all around.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Great view at the lake. Black flies chased us out after trying to eat lunch. Ended up at about 12 miles total round trip back to LOJ parking.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Was an excellent hike... my brother, nephew, son and myself did this hike... up and back from the Adirondack Loj... took us about 7 hours round trip... but we sat at the pass for about 2 hours exploring... would definitely do again!!... guess I should give my nephew credit... he ran down and was done in like 5 hours!!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Completed this trail as part of the Marcy Dam, Avalanche Pass, Avalanche Lake out and back (about 11 miles total ). I rate this trail as a 'Moderate' trail for experienced hikers.The trailhead can be a little tricky to find (hint: its at the far end of the parking area adjacent from the Ranger Station at the Adirondack LOJ). Fairly level hiking until the fifth mile leading to Avalanche Lake. Most of your elevation gain happens there. Be sure to take the trail to the far end of the lake... its worth the extra half mile or so!

This trail offers a lot of character with the wooden ladders and bridges throughout. This is a must hike trail if you are exploring the ADKs, even without a summit. The trail can be very muddy and tick/mosquito prevention is a must (common sense in the ADKs, I know). We experienced a lot of gnats in the final three miles coming down past Marcy Dam (they loved our eyes), plan ahead for those. Also, sturdy hiking boots are a must as the trail becomes rocky when you get past Marcy Dam.

As far as trail markings, don't expect Blazes throughout the trail. However, the trail junctions are marked clearly (see pics) and the trails are heavily travelled and well maintained. It would be difficult to lose the trail at any point. Kudos to those that maintain this area. Well done!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Did this hike on April 12th. Simply a gorgeous, amazing, breathtaking hike. If you hike in April, be prepared for a mostly snowy/icy trail with several muddy spots. We started at Adirondack Loj, and they required snowshoes at 18 bucks a pop to do the Avalanche Lake trail. They were definitely needed! I would imagine into May, you'd have little snow left. Took 2.5 hours to get to the Lake, spent an hour there, and only took about 1.75 hours to walk back, although we are fast walkers! Once you come out of the woods through the pass and onto the lake, you will stop in awe at how magnificent it looks. Will definitely drive up here in the summer to do this hike again!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Really great hike to do if you don't want to climb up a mountain, though pretty popular. Didn't go on the lake as the ice wasn't thick enough, so took the trail on its west shore to get to the other end. The trail is pretty rugged along the lake; lots of boulders, ladders, catwalks and the "hitch-up-matildas". If you're taking the trail instead of going on the lake when visiting in the winter, be careful as there's a lot of places to slip and fall and there's holes that can be covered in deep snow.

Friday, January 06, 2017

I enjoyed snowshoeing this trail. The trail was packed down except for certain parts of "Misery Mile". The snowshoeing on Avalanche Lake was nice and certain sections had snow drifts across the ice. The view of the Trap Dike was nice from the lake.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

This was a nice trail to do. The usual route up to Marcy Dam was pretty much cut out, but when I went onto the Avalanche Pass trail, the trail was cut out but not packed down. The very last mile is where you gain your elevation and I had to cut the trail due to the snow drifts that was happening. I didn't make it all the way to the lake, but I made it pass the Avalanche Pass Slide and down into the "shoot" before I turned back around. This trail crossed over several skiing trails, and I met a lot of cross country skiers heading towards the lake. I want to do this trail in the summer.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Beautiful trail. First trail I completed in the Adirondacks and it stole my heart. Took some time to swim in the lake. Very cold in early June but well worth it. Not a terribly difficult hike but worth it!

cross country skiing
Thursday, September 03, 2015

One of the most iconic hikes in the High Peaks and a must-do cross-country ski tour.

Friday, August 14, 2015


Monday, August 03, 2015

This is rated hard, but as far as ADK trails go it is not hard. Absolutely beautiful though. Hope to climb the trap dike to Colden someday.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Went through from an overnight at Marcy Dam on our way to Algonquin. A great area, the bridges and ladders only add to the fun in this area. Will definitely be going back again.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Hiked in for an overnight in early June with a 16 month old and a 9 year old. Made it just past Marcy dam. Awesome trail, friendly people, mutant hungry black flies and mosquitos. Too much for the kids so we humped it outta there and spent the night at the Comfort Inn Plattsburgh. Definitely going back when the flies aren't so hungry. Bug dope didn't help.

Monday, September 09, 2013

This trail is difficult, steep, and utterly amazing. So rewarding. Breathtaking sights. The avalanche debris, Mt. Colden, the lake--all are incredibly beautiful and awestriking. Worth it.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Amazing hike.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Everything you want in a challenging hike. The widow's walk around Avalanche lake and March Dam are highlights. As is the actual avalanche debris.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

This was an amazing trail. Although we had a miseable rainy day, the views of the trap dike and mt. Colden were amazing. I recomed this trail to people who enjoy climbing largish rocks, and hiking with views.

Moderate to demanding

Thursday, April 12, 2012

this was a tuff one the knee gave me trouble.steep inclins.

Friday, October 28, 2011

This hike through the pass was accidental, not planned at all. My destination for the day was to summit Colden from the L Morgan Porter trail/false summit. Upon reaching the false summit, the clouds started to roll into the area. Making an effort to reach the true summit before inclement weather approached, it started to pour about 2/10's of a mile away from the summit. After finding the summit rock, I was planning to hike back the way I came in (above treeline for some time), when it started to thunder and lightning...wanting to get below treeline as quickly as possible, I decided to descend off the summit towards Lake Colden. The steep trail was like hiking in a continual waterfall. Reaching Lake Colden, came back up through the pass. Enjoyed every minute of this hike. Plan on hiking the pass again, hoping to do a loop of Avalanche Pass to Cold Brook Pass to Indian Pass.

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