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Bear Den Trail to Dial Mountain and Nippletop

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Adirondack Mountain Reserve

Bear Den Trail to Dial Mountain and Nippletop is a 12.7 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Keene Valley, New York that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October.

Distance: 12.7 miles Elevation Gain: 4,124 feet Route Type: Loop

backpacking

camping

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

walking

forest

partially paved

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

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 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. Although the Adirondack Mountain Reserve is private land, it is open to the public for hiking.

hiking
blowdown
bugs
muddy
5 days ago

Hiked 7/3/2020, Nippletop > Dial > Bear. Would recommend this direction if you are up for the steep ascent - more challenging and could be faster than doing the opposite direction. Very few people on this trail: stopped at Dial for lunch and had the overlook to myself, which was awesome. Mosquitoes very prevalent on GIll Brook by the stream. Some mud between Nippletop and Dial but nothing compared to what I experienced on the Marcy trail the day before.

Very easy going up Leech. Beautiful views all along the way. Elk pass was very steep to start with coming down but honestly wasn't all to bad once you get past the first miles of Elk Pass

hiking
muddy
6 days ago

7/2/20- There is only one lot open at AMR, so had to park up at one of the lots on Rt 73. Thought we had gotten there at a decent time, but lot was already full. Went up the Leach Trial and there is one stretch at the beginning, where there is some solid elevation gain on the way up to Bear Den. The rest of the way up is not too bad and there are some nice flat stretches, but I have yet to see a high peak in the ADKs that is "easy". Pretty muddy once you go over Dial and up to Nipple Top and as others have said going down Elk Pass is pretty steep, no thanks on going up that way. Bugs were not too bad, some on Nippletop, but nothing out of control and following Gill Brook out to the Lake Road is a nice little stretch.

Great Conditions. All blowdown has been clear and lil to no mud

hiking
bugs
private property
16 days ago

Trail ended up being a little over 6,700 ft of elevation.

hiking
bugs
muddy
private property
19 days ago

I liked this trail! Muddy at parts, but fine. Got out of my car (Rt 73 lot) at 11:15AM and back in the car at 6:45 PM so definitely a pretty long one... I’m in average shape. Bring extra water and food. Not for inexperienced hikers.

This was a great hike, the trail was great. Minimal mud, bugs at the top of nippletop but not too bad. The first mile or two were fairly steep but beautiful. The ascent to dial and nippletop was fairly gradual and not too technical. Would definitely go down elks pass, the trail was so steep. After about 1-2 miles of steep descent it was gradual to the parking lot again

22 days ago

Hiked on 6/13 & went to Bear Den Dial Nippletop. We went up Leech Trail and came down Elk pass. This was by far the best way to do it! Leech is pretty steep but it's also gradual. A lot of "up and down" as you go. Elk pass is extremely steep for about 1.5 miles and then flattens out so it's much more enjoyable to go down this way I think. When we hiked on 6/13, it was pretty chilly and actually snowed on dial & nippletop. Visibility was poor at the top and didn't get that gorgeous view I look forward to seeing on all the summits! Nevertheless, it's an enjoyable hike at least the way we went (Up leech and down elk pass). Pretty muddy at parts but not too bad. Overall, it was a nice time but just wish we went when we could actually have had a view!

Pure pain and 17.3 miles the way we went though the way down was flat and road walking which was worth it. Steep never ending pain lol not very rocky though only in some spots! Lots of waterfalls and I stepped in but up to my knees it was hilarious and now I’m saying rip to my feet

Trail very manageable, biggest problem is getting to it with very high number of hikers accessing AMR. Suggest arrival at 6 am or plan for creative ways to expedite getting to AMR. Loop of Nippletop to Dial and then Bear Den made ascent on eroded trail manageable and descent on gradual decline less technical.

Went up to Bear Den first, then Dial, then Nippletop. Going down from Nippletop was a quick, steep descent, but seemed easier this way rather than hiking up to Nippletop first since there is a constant decline without any breaks. Snowing most of the way up once we hit Dial, but nothing that stuck. The clouds and snow likited the views, but worth sticking around the peaks for 15+ minutes for the beautiful views because the weather passes quickly at the top!

hiking
25 days ago

Did Nippletop to Dial to Bear Den -- definitely a strenuous hike and ran into some rain, hail, and snow which made the hike even tougher. Very rewarding hike though would definitely recommend this one. Going that direction the waterfalls at the beginning of the trail were gorgeous and got some great unexpected views off of Bear Den. As others have noted, it's really tough getting a parking spot -- arrived at 9am and had to park on the side of the road about .8 miles from the main lot.

hiking
25 days ago

A nice high peak hike for a day trip. Was fairly steep early on going up the Leach trail and maintained a steady ascent. Didn't notice when we summited Bear Den, and Dial summit was just a large boulder to the side of the trail that we might not have noticed without the people on it. Nippletop had some nice views but was a little cloudy. Hiked on 13 June and it snowed on and off the whole way up. Took us a little over 8 hours, but that included very frequent stops to add/remove clothing as the weather fluctuated constantly. Get there early for parking.

hiking
29 days ago

Hiked with a great group on a near perfect day. Only real issue, get to parking lot early. Nice to get 2 of the 46 on one day. Don’t miss the views looking towards Bear Den Mountain, (look for the camera icon on the all trails app) Dial and Nippletop. This is an area of new growth due to a fire and where you will find the most inspiring views. Did the trail starting at Nippletop, then Dial and Bear Den Mountain. This was recommended to us by the gate attendant. If traveling this direction the overlook (camera icon) is after Bear Den Mountain. Don’t miss it

hiking
private property
1 month ago

Started this hike at 5:20am. Parking lot was pretty empty but more cars were there when we left around 3:30. Easy walk to the trailhead by the golf course and to the fork for Bear Den and Dial. We went Bear Den > Dial > Nippletop. Definitely recommend doing this order. Steep at times ascending and not too muddy. Great views on both Dial and Nippletop! The descend from Nippletop was challenging and felt like forever. Passed Gill Brook on the last leg of the hike which had some cool waterfalls! Took about 10 hours with some breaks

Awesome hike! Get there early to get a parking spot at AMR. We went to Dial first. It was quite steep but easy to navigate. It was moderately muddy the last mile. Limited views at the tiny summit. Nippletop views were stunning. We went down the other trail The first mile was very steep and rocky. Quite a bit of mud. Gill Brook is beautiful. The cutoff to the road was the way to go for a quicker and easier finish. No ice at all.

hiking
blowdown
flooded
muddy
over grown
washed out
1 month ago

Completed 5/31. Arrived at 530am with plenty of parking left! Did the trail as Bear Den/Dial/Nippletop. Weather on the ground was high 50s and sunny. Walked right over Bear Den and didn’t even notice! Views from Dial were absolutely beautiful! The accent was quite a bit, but mixing it with the decent parts helped the knees a lot, highly recommend this way. The trail between Dial and Nippletop was very easy going. The weather though took a turn for the worst and it began snowing/hailing, along with everything being wet. The decent to Elk Pass was brutal, but quick. Easy going return to the parking area after that. My GPS tracker this as 14.8 miles though, took about 8.5 hours. Only time i saw anybody was multiple large groups heading to the summit of Nippletop, and a couple people ascending Elk Pass.

hiking
icy
snow
1 month ago

Great hike! Completed 5/27. Clocked 13.5 miles from parking lot, 7:30 moving time. Did the loop in the direction of Bears Den > Dial > Nippletop and if I were to do it again, I'd go the same way. Strenuous once you leave Lake Road, pretty much all the way up to Dial, but made for an easier end-of-day. (Steep descent, though, coming down from Nippletop!) There was still quite a bit of snow and ice within a mile or so of each peak, and between Dial and Nippletop; definitely still recommend microspikes!

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