Mount Colden via Avalanche Pass Trail

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High Peaks Wilderness

Mount Colden via Avalanche Pass Trail is a 12.8 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 June until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 12.8 miles Elevation Gain: 3,061 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

backpacking

camping

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

bird watching

running

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wildlife

blowdown

bugs

muddy

rocky

scramble

snow

washed out

On this beautiful loop hike you will pass through Avalanche Pass and then ascend the steep Mt. Colden trail from the shores of Lake Colden. On top of this 4,715 foot peak (ADK #11) you will have great views of the MacIntyre Range and also southeast towards Mt. Marcy. This loop trail can be very strenuous and is often done in reverse. There are three options to the summit of Colden - the Lake Arnold trail (not as steep), the trap dyke (read CAREFULLY about this and know your limits before attempting as it can be dangerous) or the Mt. Colden trail which is what this trip log reports.

hiking
5 days ago

Backpacked this trail along with Lake Colden from 5/23-5/25. The summit up Colden was very steep but dry. We descended down Colden on the Lake Arnold side which still had snow and ice, alot of postholing, I used spikes for some of it. Beautiful views at the summit.

hiking
bugs
flooded
muddy
rocky
scramble
snow
washed out
8 days ago

5/24/20 started at 0930, hiked to avalanche pass and lake trail. a little flooded and muddy. got to summit of colden at 1600. no snow on the way up. beautiful views. took lake arnold trail back. lots of snow on that trail. gaitors and spikes recommended. lots of stream crossings and they are all running high and fast. got to the car at 2300. long day but fun. recorded 18 miles on the apple watch round trip.

hiking
9 days ago

We hiked this on 5/23/20. Nice easy moderately flat trail up to Marcy Dam and as well as to the junction of van hoe and avalanche pass. We took avalanche pass up which was beautiful. Hiking through the cols of Algonquin and Colden was really awesome and felt good because the temps dropped a few degrees. Once we hit lake Arnold it was really awesome. Lots of boulders / wooden ladders and bridges. We stopped for a break there and another break right before Mount Colden trail ascent. There is a little bridge there that overlooks the water and is perfect for a break. The first half of the ascent wasn’t bad at all. Once you hit the wooden ladders And stairs it becomes a slug. Although the stairs do help a lot it’s still a relentless climb. About 3/4 of the ascent it really started to tire us out and the sun was beaming down on us getting us pretty fatigued. We pushed through and finally hit the false summit. Amazing views. A moderately easy climb from that point to the official summit as you get the soak in big views the last .2/.3 ascent. Summit was amazing with 270 degree views. Oh i should mention the ascent had limited snow but lots of running water. ( Bare boot is fine) Now onto the descent. Right as you step off the bald summit there was a ton of slippery snow that was 4 feet deep. If we didn’t have our micro spikes it would have been a bad time because a large portion of the descent was like this. Having spikes we really had no issues besides the occasional falling through the snow 4 feet deep making post holes. Lots of monorails all the way down. Once we hit lake Arnold we followed the river a good portion which offered nice cooler temps and more wet feet. We didn’t hit snowless trails until about half way from lake Arnold to the trail split where we took avalanche pass is from the morning. From there again a nice moderately flat trail back to the Loj.

hiking
icy
muddy
off trail
over grown
rocky
1 month ago

Amazing hike. We were originally planning on cutting up the face of the mountain but the ice was so thick and the wind was so stroke decided to go around. The hike around was extremely hard too. We found ourselves in need of spikes and snowshoes at the summit. Be aware, if you don’t download the map prior to the hike, you should have a good map. The cell service is far from good and you will be struggling to see your phone in the hard to navigate parts due to the snow and the feeling of falling. The decent was really nice but could definitely use spikes. Overall I would recommend this if you enjoy pain followed with an amazing reward.

3 months ago

epic..... views....

hiking
3 months ago

Absolutely gorgeous hike! Hiked 2/15 with negative temps but beautiful skies. Hiked out and back via the Lake Arnold trail. Used snowshoes the whole time, enough snow coverage that there was no open rock. Trail was broken out by a skier until 3/4 of a mile before the summit when he went down the slide. Trail was easy to break until we got to the false summit and then it got a bit confusing but still doable.

hiking
3 months ago

Hiked Colden via Lake Arnold both ways on 1-28-2020. Completely socked in and no views from the top but the trails are in the easiest and safest shape ive ever seen in winter. Dont be fooled and stop at the false summit.

hiking
snow
4 months ago

Fri 1/31/20 -I couldn't find an out and back route to review so I reviewed it here. I did the Adk loj to Lake Arnold trail, then to Colden out and back. Trails were in good shape, Not too steep from this side except for a couple spots. Fairly easy but a solid 12 miles or so.

hiking
4 months ago

2020/01/04 - Mt Colden

hiking
icy
snow
6 months ago

Hike on Saturday, November 30th. 14° at start, 9° at summit with 40 mph winds. Great hike! Very long, I ran most of the flat sections and limited my breaks. ended up taking me just over 6 hours. Brought snow shoes but did not use (they are required). Micro spikes were a must, crampons would have been helpful near summit. Did this hike solo and felt good about the whole thing other than a 15 minute period in which about a quarter mile from summit coming from the avalanche lake side, there is about a 200' section that is so vertical and was nearly all ice. Below it is a drop off all the way down to the lake and rocks. No surviving it. I was uncomfortable during this section due to being alone, but made it nonetheless. Just take your time and be safe out there. Initial conditions are not a sign of what to expect at summit.

hiking
muddy
rocky
7 months ago

This was a great hike. It’s really only steep for two miles but it’s a really tough and demanding two miles that you’ll feel the rest of the hike. Avalanche pass is beautiful. Lots of fun rock scrambles, Matildas, etc. I wouldn’t bring my dog but I saw a few on the trail so it’s doable. The climb to Mt Colden is worth the effort. It ended up being a little over 15 miles for us, but some of that is because we parked at the South Meadows trailhead instead of the Loj.

hiking
muddy
rocky
scramble
7 months ago

First time backpacker here.... Camped at Lake Arnold and headed up the east side of Mt Colden with a 40+lb backpack! Strenuous but doable. Great views at the top. Hike down the west side was terrifying and I can't imagine trying to go up that way, especially with a full pack. Took much longer than anticipated and ended up exhausted at the juncture for Lake Colden. After 3hr hiking in the dark, had to make an emergency shelter on the trail (no flat area, trail was on a steep incline next to lake) with a tarp and try again at sunrise. Was thankfully able to complete the 5.8 mile leg from Lake Colden to Loj in about 7hrs. Trail around Avalanche Lake was very rocky and slow going. This hike was day 4 and my body had had enough!

hiking
7 months ago

First peak I've done. Did it mid October, weather was just right. Got cold with medium-weight jacket on if we didn't keep moving. Ascended via Avalanche Lake route, starting at 6:30am with 40 degree temp. Reached summit @ 11am. Final push near the summit is ~2000ft ascent over 1.6 miles, pretty tiring & there was some ice. Fair amount of step/ladder sections. Make sure you have shoes with good tread. Summit is fairly wide with plenty of room to hang around & killer views. Took a 30 min break & descended down Lake Arnold side, much less steep. Arrived back at Loj by 3:30pm. Would not recommend descending down Avalanche Lake side, too steep. Up & down Arnold side would be easiest but up Avalanche & down Arnold is traditional logged route, & most fun...plus you pass awesome Avalanche Lake on the way in. Trails were a little wet w/ some mud sections but no huge puddles. Clear skies.

Awesome techy climb up the mountain. Be sure to leave time to get back at the end of the day if you are leaf peeping! Treking poles highly recommended. Pack light.

hiking
icy
muddy
rocky
7 months ago

Arrived at the Adirondak Loj around 6:30am (Saturday) but the parking lot was already full. We had to park a mile up the Loj road and walk to the Loj to start our hike. The hike was fairly easy and dry until we got near Avalanche Lake. Wooden boards and rocks became pretty icy so we had to go very slowly especially on the boards that are over water. From there the hike gets steeper, wetter, and more icy. Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden are absolutely beautiful and the hike along the sides of them is a lot of fun. The hike to the summit of Colden was again very steep and icy and contained many long sections of angled ladders to help get up steep flat rock. The view from the top is amazing and we had the perfect day with no wind and unlimited visibility. Take your time at the top to appreciate the view. On the way back we look a slightly longer route and visited the Indian Falls lookout. A super gorgeous waterfall that overlooks more great scenery. From there we took the Van Hoevenburg trail back to the Loj. If you are coming on a weekend, get there super early or the parking lot will be full like it was in our case. Overall, this hike was the most beautiful I've ever done, while still being long and difficult enough to challenge us.

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