Bear Den Trail to Dial Mountain and Nippletop

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Dix Mountain Wilderness

Bear Den Trail to Dial Mountain and Nippletop is a 12.9 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Keene Valley, New York that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, snowshoeing, and backpacking and is best used from March until October.

Length12.9 miElevation gain4,081 ftRoute typeLoop
BackpackingCampingHikingSnowshoeingForestPartially pavedRiverViewsBugsMuddyNo dogs
Description
Waypoints (8)
Facilities
Tips
Getting There

Beginning May 1, and through Oct. 31, 2021, DEC and AMR will require reservations for the 70 available parking spots at the AMR parking lot for daily access to trails on AMR property, as well as the Round Mountain and Noonmark Mountain trailheads accessed through AMR lands. Walk-in users without a reservation will not be permitted. Those arriving to Keene Valley via Greyhound or Trailways bus lines may access with a valid bus ticket from within 24 hours of arrival. Those arriving by bus must check in at the AMR hiker parking lot. The AMR parking lot is only accessible between the hours of 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily, with the exception of overnight parking. Advance reservations are required and can be made between 24 hours and two weeks in advance. Visitors can make reservations for day or overnight use, including overnight parking. It is not necessary to have a vehicle to make a reservation to hike. Those being dropped off and those arriving by bicycle must check in at the AMR hiker parking Lot and produce a valid reservation. All bicycles must be left at the hiker parking lot where a bike rack will be provided and portable restrooms will be available at the parking lot for visitor use. Visitors can begin registering at the new Hiker Reservation web portal, hikeamr.org, which will go live on April 15, with reservations beginning May 1. In an effort to keep the area safe, clean, and enjoyable for all users, parking is limited at other popular trailheads along the Route 73 corridor. Visitors should come prepared with back-up plans in case trailhead parking lots are full: Roadside parking on Route 73 in the vicinity of AMR is dangerous and illegal. Visitors should park only in designated lots and adhere to posted parking restrictions. Illegally parked vehicles will be ticketed and potentially towed at the owner's expense. Other restrictions for recreation on the AMR Conservation Easement continue to apply. These include, but are not limited to: Bicycles are not allowed past the parking area; Hikers must stay on marked hiking trails; Dogs are not allowed on the property; Hunting, trapping, and fishing are prohibited; The public is not allowed to enter on the shores, swim, or boat on any and all lakes, streams, or rivers, or cross the frozen lakes in winter; Entering buildings is prohibited 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.

Huberts

St. Huberts Trailhead: The parking area is just off of Rte 73 just 7.5 miles west from exit 30 off of I-87. You'll then need to walk up the golf course road to the beautiful wooden gate marking the entrance to the Lake Road which you will follow for several miles until veering off on the Gill brook trail. There are no fees to park here.

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.

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Reviews (482)
Photos (1,892)
Activities (431)
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Ron Michael
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Hiking

It was a mild 44°F at 6:10 AM Eastern Mountain time. Clear skies. We set off on road towards the Nippletop trail head. Micro spikes were needed 3 to 4 miles into the hike for only about 15 minutes. Mild mud throughout. About 5.7 miles in micro spikes are definitely needed. The most difficult part of the hike starts at 5.7 miles. Reached the summit of Nippletop at 10:50 am. Cloudy and hazy. Warmer than expected. Views were better if you went to downward area/out look. Reached the summit of Dial at 12:30 PM mostly sunny skies, Christie just farted... resting then heading out to trailhead. Completed at the trail register at 3:49 pm. 14.9 miles total.

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Tyler Crandell
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HikingMuddySnow

Hiked 3/27. 14.8 miles from St. Hubert's Parking lot and back in 9 hr 21 min. Post-holing made it super tedious and frustrating. The view from Nippletop was beautiful and I'm sure the hike would have been enjoyable at a different time of year.

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Cary Frogback
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Hiking

Mud season is here and this trail was a slog. We did bear den - > Dial - > Nippletop and it was postholes and mud the entire way. Trail was 2/5, views were 5/5. Coming down Elk pass was steep, but the easiest part of the day for me.

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P Patel
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Hiking
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Michael Connell
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Snowshoeing

(March 17,2021) My wife and I intended to take this trail to Nippletop. We chose this over the trail up the steep section above Elk Pass which we assumed would be torture. In fact the Bear Den Trail is death by a thousand cuts. At the outset as we ascended the Noonmark shoulder, it was obvious that this was not going to be that much less grade than the Elk Pass trail. After reaching the top of the shoulder you are then asked to give back a generous chunk of real estate, then repurchase that same elevation to get to the top of Bear Den. Then again you donate elevation back the the mountain and again repurchase it going up to Dial. The snow was unbelievably sticky and by the time we reached Dial we gave up on Nippletop. My advice: if you want Nippletop, go the Elk Pass route and just be patient on the steep section.

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Adam Hicks
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Hiking
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Kelsey Hayes
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Hiking

Beautiful day to be on the trails. Well traveled, hard packed trail going up Elk Pass. Trail was blown in a bit with looser snow between Nippletop and Dial summits. Significant post holes on the way over as well as for the remainder of the hike. Overall a fantastic winter hike.

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Andrea Cartier
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HikingGreat!

Completed trail yesterday and it was amazing!!! The views were spectacular legit better than I anticipated. Climb up Bears Den was a little challenge at first, short trip to Dial & then decent hike up NT. Elks pass coming down was great lots of slides! Roughly around 11 hrs with all the stops and eating (friend had a bad knee)!!! Amazing winter hike still in awww! Wore snow shoes for some and micro spikes, I didn’t notice much ice!

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Jennifer Heffernan
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Hiking
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John Klein
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Hiking
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Sean Merges
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Snowshoeing
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Sue Coonrod
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Hiking

Nicely packed out. A little blown in around Elk Pass. Great hike. About 8 hours total for this old lady!

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Beth Hopp
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HikingGreat!Snow

Very easy to follow trail. We had perfect conditions with beautiful blue skies, light layer of powdery snow, no wind. Great views throughout hike, not just on the summits. Added Colvin as a last minute decision, 15.8 miles, according to our recording, in 10 hrs, finished in the dark.

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Ethan Bliss
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Hiking

Semi packed trail all the way to dial , got halfway down dial on our way to nippletop trail turned to unbroken, which would have forced us to hike out in the dark, so we turned around. Frustrating hike , up and down for 6 hours moving time

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Danielle Kempf
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HikingSnow

Not icy, bear den to dial lots of snow but ok without snowshoes. Going to nippletop had no broken trail

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Chris Perilli
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Hiking

Incredible hiking experience with amazing views. This hike is by no means easy and far closer to 16-17 miles than 13. Micro spikes are a must at the very least with snow shoes being highly recommended. The ascent up elk pass is extremely steep so be wary. All around great hike. Took us about 10 hours with a sick friend.

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Christina Angell
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HikingGreat!

Long day- completed 10/10/16. Great hike

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Mark Akers
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Hiking
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Jim Guarino
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HikingGreat!IcySnow

Started at 8:15. The lake road had a couple of inches of snow on it. I took the Lake Road to the Gill Brook trail and proceeded towards Elk Pass. It was quiet on the trails, with only 3" - 4" of snow below 3,500', so no need for snowshoes. The ponds at Elk Pass looked very peaceful frozen over. I then turned an made the steep ascent to Nippletop. I wanted to take this loop to experience Elk Pass. I knew the ascent would be steep, but it was worth it. I arrived at noon and it was snowing and windy at the summit of Nippletop. About 4" - 6" of snow above 3,500' elevation, depending on the area. I then proceeded to Dial and arrived around 1:20. Then proceeded over Bear Den mountain and back out to Lake Road and the Ausable Club. I was back at the car at 4:05pm. 14 miles

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Sam Fromowitz
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HikingGreat!IcyPrivate propertySnow

Did this on 12/19. Roughly 5-6 inches of loose snow and a lot of ice on the ground. We had first tracks as we left our vehicles at 5:30am. Most definitely a difficult hike, but don't let anyone tell you it's not worth it. Both Dial and Nippletop (and even Bear Den) have excellent views at their summit (which may be helped by the fact that it was winter so no leaves to block any views). Microspikes required. With a couple out of shape members in our group and the snow being hard to walk on, we travelled slow. Tracked 17 miles from leaving the parking lot to getting back to it, took us just under 13 hours. We went out by way Indian Head and got on lake road 3 miles away from the AMR gate. Definitely do Dial first. Doing it last results in multiple brutal elevation changes at the end. As well, by doing Nippletop last, you get views of the great range the entire way down the mountain. 100% recommend.

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Paul Korytkowski
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HikingIcySnow

I hiked this yesterday (12/10). Loved both the peaks, but the trail can be unforgiving. As soon as you gain elevation, you go on a descent (between lake road and nippletop). When you hop on the trail, alltrails may give you a notification that you are "off trail". Don't worry, you're not, and you'll be back "on trail" in about 30 feet. Just an FYI, I recorded closer to 15 miles, so plan for that

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Tara McLaughlin
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BackpackingGreat!
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