Bear Den Trail to Dial Mountain and Nippletop is a 12.7 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Saint Huberts, New York that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and snowshoeing and is best used from March until October.

DISTANCE
12.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
4,124 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

forest

partially paved

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

snow

no dogs

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. Beware that no dogs are allowed and this restriction is strictly enforced. The parking is across the highway from the Roaring Brook access to Giant Mt. and is at the southerly of the two junctions of Rt. 73 and Ausable Rd. (not "Ausable Club Rd.") On a busy weekend, you will likely have to park on the highway. From the parking area, walk 1/2-mile up the road past a golf course. Just before reaching he large clubhouse, turn left and down between two tennis courts to the gate house and trail register.

1 month ago

Was a relatively challenging trail, picked a day during the August heat wave, big mistake. Did not make it to Nippletop, will have to do that one separate if possible.

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome trail. Well marked. Lots of mud.

1 month ago

Did this hike on 10/6/18. Weather was cool limited sun only in the afternoon. Did the loop counter clockwise going up elk pass to nippletop first. Got a late start due to the parking situation. The lots at the AMR hiking lot was full had to park on highway about .5 mike away. Note don’t park along the roadways but n the AMR hiking parking areas. There were about 20 or so cars parked in no parking areas that got tickets. By the time we got to Nippletop’s summit it was socked in by fog and clouds. Very windy and cold. Had a quick lunch. Made out was over to Dial . Views were better but clouds came in. Made our way done and out via Bear Den . Trails were very muddy . It’s hard for me to say what direction is easier because I was tied from a long road trip the day before and a little under the weather. I would say doing elk pass first because it’s steep. Over all a great hike wish the weather was better. Might have to return and do this one again.

1 month ago

I did the loop clockwise and I’m glad, the trails are so wet and muddy that coming up from Elk Pass the water would be running down your sleeves. The promised clear sky never happened so I skipped Indian Head, no views. I loved the ups and downs of this loop, and the easy run back on Lake Road.

hiking
1 month ago

Easy to follow, very muddy, non-technical hike with Nippletop showing the best view of the entire great range without actually being in it. Our group enjoyed Nips’ view even more than Algonquin’s. Dial is nice but not amazing and Noonmark shoulder is less than Dial but still enjoyable.

After a lot of contemplation we did the loop clockwise and were so happy we did. The views only improve this way giving you something to look forward to. The ascent is more gradual with only a 40 min stretch up to Noonmark shoulder being steep. It’s as steep as Elk Pass but much shorter and way less rocks. We left Nippletop with lots of energy still from a pretty easy morning climb and feeling fresh and rested from lunch at the summit. Descending Elk Pass was pretty non-technical (only 2 or 3 bigger rock slabs) and totally fine for us. If your cardio isn’t very strong but you have good knees definitely do clockwise. Going up Elk Pass will hit your lungs and legs hard, it’s steadily steep and long. If you have any issues with knees or pain descending normally, then take the loop counter clockwise.

We added on Indian Head and it is a must for this loop being so close. Its a stunning and perfect ending with Lake Road being an easy cool down to a long day instead of descending that steep section down from Noonmark shoulder, tired, with mediocre views after Dial. 10.5 hours from the car with an hours worth of breaks but we moved slower than average with everyone passing us that day. Hiked with 2 newbies with no hiking experience but good physical strength.

hiking
2 months ago

Did the trail via h g leach to bear den dial and finally nippletop, it rained a good bit half way through so views at the top were not too great but it was a awesome day aside for that. Out and back from the parking lot it was a good 15.1 miles with some detours but very enjoyable!

hiking
2 months ago

Long approach to Elk Pass, steep and strenuous climb up to Nippletop, and almost only descent from there to Dial and Bear Den. Knees were hurting after. Made in 6hrs

backpacking
4 months ago

Incredible hike. This was our first loop since my gf broke her back in January 2018. We arrived at the AMR gate at about 7:30AM Saturday morning with full packs. Headed up the Gill Brook trail for our ascent and made a quick stop at Indian Head (@9:45ish). Indian Head has some AMAZING views, so I’d suggest stopping if time permits. Hiked for another few hours and set up camp at the Elk Pass ponds. There was room for maybe 2-3 tent sites. With time to spare, we decided to leave our packs and head towards Colvin. The hike up Colvin wasn’t too intense (arrived at 2:30PM). Colvin has a very small survey marker, getting us our first High Peak of the weekend.

We were running low on water and stamina, so we decided against attempting Blake. After speaking with some fellow hikers, it seemed like a lot of work that we didn’t want to exert for a wooded summit. We made it back to the tent and made some dinner. We’ll have to come back another time.

Hit the trail Sunday at 7:30AM up Elk Pass. This was quite difficult, especially after filling up 4 water bottles (Elk Pass is your last chance to fill up!) and having full packs. There are views behind you almost the whole way up to the split. We got to the split at 9:15AM, ditched our packs, and ran 0.2 miles to Nippletop. Awesome views westward towards the Great Range and Marcy in the distance.

Trail to Dial was 1.9 miles and felt long. There were a few ascents and descents before you reached Dial, which felt kinda cruel. Headed out was pretty gradual and a nice breather from the steepness of Elk Pass. The way down bothered both of our knees and we were happy to get back to the car.

85 degree weather, sunshine, full packs, and 30-45 min on each of the peaks (plus Indian Head), got back to the car at around 3PM Sunday. Would consider a lighter day pack and faster pace if I were to do it again. Headed in to Keene for a well deserved beer! 38 more to go!

4 months ago

Took about 9 hours round trip with a roughly 25 minute break on each summit. Ended clocking around 14.1 miles total. Went up Elk pass to Nippletop first definitely seemed like the way to go! Would be tough descending that way.

hiking
4 months ago

Did this hike Saturday. Went backwords, via Bear den to Dial then to Nippletop. Not a whole lot of people on the trail that day. Maybe passed 3 groups (10 total). We started at 6:30 am and it was about 70 degrees at the bottom. Started getting windy and rained on about the time we hit the summit of Dial. Nippletop was great views for the first five minutes. Then it turned to clouds and no view. But we were able to get summit pictures.

hiking
5 months ago

My family and I hiked this loop counterclockwise, starting up the Gill Brook Trail/Elk Pass to Nippletop then over to Dial and back down Bear Den Mt and the HG Leach Trail. In our opinion this was definitely the way to do it. The Gill Brook Trail is beautiful and very easy to walk, the ground is soft and just roots, no large rocks that are typical of the high peaks until you get up closer to the ascent of Nippletop. The trail from Nippletop to Dial was fairly easy, mostly downhill with a quick ascent to the summit of Dial. Coming back down BDM and the HG Leach Trail was much steeper than we anticipated after seeing everyone say this was the less-steep path. Most of the trail was dry when we hiked, only muddy the top 1/3 of the trail probably. Overall a great hike, we had perfect weather. 9 hours roundtrip.

hiking
5 months ago

Trail has quite a few ups and downs to it. I had gone clockwise which is usually against my better judgement as I like to get my elevation out of the way first if possible. I went in this direction because if I had enough steam and the sky cleared up (as it was raining out), I was going to hit up fish hawk cliffs and Indian Head. I had plenty of steam left after descending Elk Pass but it had begun to rain heavily. I will be back for those on a clearer day.

Trail was a little wet. Near the Nippletop summit it was quite muddy. No views above 3500 ft. due to low hanging clouds. The only view I had all day was from the Noonmark shoulder looking up at Bear Den, Dial, and Nippletop. Elk Pass had some brand new traversing boards to walk over the anticipated mud wallows which were nice.

I keep hearing about how steep the Elk Pass trail up to Nippletop is, but honestly it wasn't too bad. In my opinion: the Seward Mountain Trail (off Seward Mtn), Panther Brook Trail (off Panther in the Santanoni's), Cold Brook Trail (Marshall's shoulder), and the Slide Brook Trail (off Macomb in the Dix) are noticeably more difficulty. I'm wondering if this one gets more attention due to the volume of hikers using it vs. the others. This is not to say it is not steep- it is. It is just well maintained, easy to follow, water re-routes off the trail are great, and if you take your time (especially when it is raining) you'll be fine. Big plus in that I did not see any of that slick, red moss that plagues hikers on steep, heavily saturated, sun-soaked ascents/descents!

hiking
7 months ago

Extremely challenging especially in these winter like conditions we are still experiencing in NYS. I would like to experience it again when the weather is nicer. Also, we did the loop trail but AllTrails glitched while we were out there so half of the hike is missing. We did this in 11 hours if you are starting the timing from the registry.

7 months ago

Completed this hike yesterday. Great view on Nippletop! This hike took me 10 hours. I used spikes, snowshoes, and crampons. Came back through Gill Brook trail for as long as I could before getting back to Lake Road. A bit over 15 miles..

hiking
9 months ago

Brutal winter hike if you go take alltrail's suggestion and do Nippletop first, but i imagine its a matter of preference if you want to get most of the climbing done asap. Trail from Elk Pass up to Nippletop is mostly ice. You will need decent spikes for this. Regular microspikes wont cut it as the couple a few dozen feet behind me found out (they had to quit halfway up because they couldnt make it up a particularly icy spot and i didnt have rope to help them). Also make sure to wear snowshoes since whatever isnt ice is 3-4 feet of fluffy snow, and if you stray 3 inches off the narrow packed down trail you will immediately posthole up to your waist. Once you get to Nippletop Summit the views are amazing and definitely worth the strenuous climb. The trail to Dial and over Bear Den is pretty easy from here (but keep your snowshoes on), with a little more climbing up to Noonmarks shoulder. There are also plenty of spots steep enough on the descent that you can literally sit down and butt slide 20-100 feet at a time to save energy (just use an ice axe or trekking poles to steer and stop) and have some fun. The only downside to this hike is the long approach up the access road you have to walk, but otherwise the views and the trail are 10/10

hiking
Friday, October 20, 2017

Great Hike. Hiked Lake Rd to Gil Brook Trail. Lots of little waterfalls along the way. Took the short trip to Indian Head before returning to Elk Pass trail. You walk by a few nice ponds before heading up Nippletop. Fairly steep but not to bad. Great views. Very windy when I was there. Trail over to Dial is easy. Small rock ledge to see some views. Then it Was Bear Den Mt, the shoulder of Noonmark, and some small Mt that didn’t show up on my map. Great views though. After that it was a hike back to Lake Rd and out. The hike was 14 1/2 miles. Including breaks it took about 9 1/2 hours.

hiking
Friday, October 13, 2017

Beware that no dogs are allowed and this restriction is strictly enforced. The parking is across the highway from the Roaring Brook access to Giant Mt. and is at the southerly of the two junctions of Rt. 73 and Ausable Rd. (not "Ausable Club Rd.") On a busy weekend, you will likely have to park on the highway. From the parking area, walk 1/2-mile up the road past a golf course. Just before reaching he large clubhouse, turn left and down between two tennis courts to the gate house and trail register.

Friday, October 13, 2017

This hike has a little bit of everything in it...

Starting out from the Ausable golf club and trekking down Lake road is a nice (but fairly long 4 mile) start to warm you up if you don’t like getting out of the car and immediately inclining.

We looped counter clockwise to get the long road trek out of the way first and took a detour, adding less than a mile, to the loop by checking out Indian Head and Fish Hawk cliffs. It’s 100% worth the effort when you’re so close and you wouldn’t want to miss it.

From there until you get to Elk Pass it’s not too bad but I’ll admit it was a pretty tough stretch to scale Nippletop as you gain over 1,000 feet in a mile or so. However once there it’s totally worth the view. Has to be one of the top in the peaks. We spent a good 40 minutes at the summit and then descended to Dial which was another 3 miles.

The road to Dial was pretty gradual and like Nippletop had a great view. From there we continued our descent and passed over Noonmark shoulder and had a pretty cool time walking through the newer stretch of trees grown after the fire years back. The shoulder also had some nice views and it’s really the only time you’ll have to ascend again.

From there the last 4 miles are pretty steep downhill until you’re back on Lake road with only a mile left to the club.

I personally like to get all the heavy lifting done in a short span and the real challenge here is the 1,500 feet you’ll gain in one area going up Nippletop. The rest of the hike can pretty much be dedicated to great views and enjoyment.

I’d recommend reserving 8-12 hours for this hike. We spent about 1.5 hours on summits and taking pictures and we moved at a somewhat slower pace than we had planned and it took us about 10 hours total.

hiking
Sunday, October 01, 2017

Great hike! 15 and 16 for me :) We went up clockwise via Bear Den then Dial and Nippletop. I like getting elevation out of the way first and this was a good route for me. The decent from Nippletop was steep (wet from snow melting) but doable it eventually levels out. The elk to gill brook was pretty flat and I enjoyed a cool but long flatter decent. If going counter clockwise seems you'd walk flat a long way before ascending Nippletop. The hike from Dial to Nippletop was fairly flat, easier ascents and had some snow. Views at Nippletop were spectacular. If I had to do this again I'd go clockwise.

hiking
Sunday, September 24, 2017

This trail was my first high peaks adventure, and reminded me that I am no longer a young pup.

It was a blast! We took the "clockwise" loop. From what we experienced, and what the other hikers that went the "counter clockwise" direction looked like climbing the final ascent to Nippletop, I'd say we took the easier route. Our route was a climb right from the get go and got the engine pumping hard, but after the descent from Nippletop to Elks Pass it was a decent hike out with a nice flat road to finish up.

Bring lots of water (I went through 4Liters). The only suitable water source for filtering was Gill Brook on our descent. Elks Pass was kind of stagnant and questionable in terms of use in a filter.

If you have ailing leg joints, be sure to bring your braces. The descent did a number on my knees as well as my partner's knee and ankle.

All in all, it was physically painful on the body, but was well worth the views and exercise.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

This trail was my first high peaks adventure, and reminded me that I am no longer a young pup.

It was a blast! We took the "clockwise" loop. From what we experienced, and what the other hikers that went the "counter clockwise" direction looked like climbing the final ascent to Nippletop, I'd say we took the easier route. Our route was a climb right from the get go and got the engine pumping hard, but after the descent from Nippletop to Elks Pass it was a decent hike out with a nice flat road to finish up.

Bring lots of water (I went through 4Liters). The only suitable water source for filtering was Gill Brook on our descent. Elks Pass was kind of stagnant and questionable in terms of use in a filter.

If you have ailing leg joints, be sure to bring your braces. The descent did a number on my knees as well as my partner's knee and ankle.

All in all, it was physically painful on the body, but was well worth the views and exercise.

hiking
Monday, September 18, 2017

This was my first high peak and it was tough but so worth it! You do have to park and walk down a paved road through a golf course for a
Few miles which was interesting. Trails were pretty clear and dry. I don't have much to compare it to but the view was breath taking. It took us about 4 hours to get to the top of dial. We were pretty slow getting up there So I'm sure a more experienced hiker can get up quicker. Can't wait for my next one !

hiking
Sunday, September 10, 2017

Really cool hike. Ascent begins immediately on way up Noonmark shoulder to Bear Den to Dial, gradual fairly easy meander to Nippletop, fairly steep descend down Nippletop to Elk Pass and beautiful views of Gills Brook on the way back to the road. Summit was in the clouds on both peaks but great day hiking otherwise! From parking lot to parking lot took our group of three 9 hours and 40 minutes with multiple rest stops along the way.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

great hike, beautiful views. We did the counterclockwise loop, taking the third left from the road in ausable club and going up through fish hawk cliffs. We stopped off at Indian head 1st, a tiny but very worth it detour. then up the steepest section to nippletop first, and finally down to dial and bear. this way is great because if you get an early start you don't run into many people and there is less road time at the end. super enjoyable!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Muddy but spectacular views.

backpacking
Sunday, August 20, 2017

Super awesome, challenging hike. Granted, we did it with the intention of camping, so the weight of our packs made for an additional challenge. Going up Bear Den to Dial to Nippletop felt like the best way to go, getting the steep incline out of the way, and camping in along Elk Pass, so that all we had for our second day was the descent.

We could have done it all in a day if we didn't have huge packs, and if we did it again, we would do the loop as a day hike.

The views were 100% worth it, but the trail conditions were super muddy and slick.

hiking
Thursday, August 17, 2017

Incredible hike -- but so steep until the top of Dial

hiking
Thursday, August 03, 2017

Dial and Nippletop was a nice fun day, lots of uphill, and a dozen great views. We started by heading up over Bear Den Mountain. Lots and lots of bear tracks so keep a watchful eye. No markers that I could find for Dial or Nippletop. But the views were great. From the intersection near Nippletop, it says .2 miles, just keep in mind its a long .2mile. The day I went it was extremely muddy. Heading down Elk pass was steep but fairly easy. Once getting back onto Lake Rd it was an easy return. Overall time was 12 hours from car to car.

hiking
Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Reasonably challenging hike. I made two wrong turns as the GPS trace witnesses: one in the beginning - started on a wrong trail (to Noonmark) and then after the beaver ponds. Great views from both Nippletop and Dial; from the Noonmark shoulder too. I have done it counterclockwise: steep climb to Nippletop and then gradual descent for the rest of the loop.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

what a challenge!

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