Mount Colden via Avalanche Pass Trail

HARD 75 reviews
#6 of 43 trails in

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

12.8 miles
3,061 feet

dogs on leash




nature trips


trail running









old growth




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.

1 day ago

Not short or easy but it’s gorgeous and worth the effort

2 days ago

Loved this hike!!! We hiked on 8/12. We went up Lake Arnold Trail and down around Lake Colden/ Avalanche pass. I actually think this is the best way to do the hike (though as someone whose knees generally start hurting coming down- I get why people are recommending the reverse). There were a lot of steep slabs and some of the hikers we met commented on how it was hard for them coming up. The hike was ~16.2 miles to and from Adirondack Loj. We stopped for about an hour total between the summit and Lake Colden. Very beautiful. The water on Lake Colden perfectly reflected the sky. Took us 9 hours total. This was one of my favorite high peaks (I’ve done 24 now) mainly because of the incredible summit views and hiking along the Matilda’s.

3 days ago

13/10 would do this hike again, though not with my dog again.

This hike was amazing. Definitely agree with previous reviewers to do this loop counter clockwise, I wouldn't have wanted to go down the mountain on the Lake Colden side. Not an easy hike by any means, but the views were absolutely beautiful.

That being said, I would STRONGLY advise against doing this hike with your dog, at least if you have a larger dog. There are a lot of ladders that are practically impossible for a dog to traverse on the path around Avalanche Lake, but those are doable. The worst one was at the top of Mount Colden, over 10' high with no way for a dog to travel around it. My advise would be to do an out and back on the Lake Arnold side of Mount Colden if you'd like to bring your dog.

5 days ago

This was so much fun all around.

17 days ago

This was not an easy hike, but absolutely worth it. Getting to Avalanche Lake was pretty easy going and it is so gorgeous. Even saw a couple of people scaling the rock face of Mt Colden! Got to the end of the trail and decided I wanted to go ahead and do Mt Colden. The climb on this side (south) was a lot of climbing straight rock face. Not horrible, but very precarious since there is water running down most of it and it is a steep angle for most of it... so much so that they have built stairs on a handful of sections. Towards the top of that climb, I could really feel the elevation starting to affect my breathing, had to take breaks more often, but otherwise fine.

The final scrabble near the top is straight rock face which, in parts, has no foliage on the down side of the mountain; one of the only climbs I have done where I was a bit worried about sliding off. No problems though. The view at the top... there are really no words... you just have to see it... pictures don’t even do it justice. It was clear when I got up there and you can see for miles in most directions.

Climb down was much less steep and followed a river bed for a good bit, making you rock jump (which is hard after you just climbed ~2000 feet). Lots of water on the way, so plenty of places to cool off and refill, including one waterfall with a good size pool under it just off the path (on the left just before the Lake Arnold Trail veers to the left, so keep your ears open as you can barely see it from the trail).

1 month ago

Chose to do the Avalanche Lake/Lake Arnold loop counterclockwise. Would not want to do it the other way with that steep part. Trails were dry, no bugs. Clear skies, great views of Algonquin, etc. to the West and Marcy, Giant, etc to the Southeast. We did miss the turn left/up from the lake (the sigh is high and pointed the other way) and had to backtrack a bit.

1 month ago

Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world, so you should listen to him
The hike was ok

1 month ago

5 of us including an 11 and 13 year old did this hike 2 days ago. It took us 8 hours and 45 minutes with quite a few breaks and a longer stop on the peak.
Hike was quite easy aside from the ascent from avalanche lake to the summit of Mount Colden which is rocky and steep.
Was very glad to have done the hike counterclockwise as this would have been a treacherous descent.
The hike around avalanche lake was fantastic with ladders, and hitch up Mathilda’s - fun for all.
Doing an out and back to mount Colden via Lake Arnold would be easier and a bit shorter but not nearly as interesting or fun.
This was a fantastic hike - one of my favourites in ADKs.

1 month ago

Some deer flies but a great day. Beautiful views.

1 month ago

It’s a grind up the loop from avalanche lake but you will be glad you climbed up it and not down. Views are incredible.
Took us just about 8 hours with a 30 minute detour.

1 month ago

Beautiful hike! Avalanche pass was amazing!!!! Loved being able to hike right along the water, looking up at the giant mountainside. The route along Avalanche Lake is truly a fun obstacle course of ladders, planks, boulders, Mathilda’s, making this so enjoyable. The climb up Colden was steep from this direction, but I’d rather go up this way than down. A fair amount of sheer rock, but doable. ADK workers have done an amazing job of building stairs to climb the steepest of the sheer rock. Be sure to look back and catch incredible views towards the top. There was only one spot towards the top where I really felt I needed a hand hold. Views were amazing, clear day and we could see mountains for miles! Going down towards Arnold lake was much easier. Arnold lake truly is more of a buggy pond, so not a great spot to stop, in our opinion. Then, it was just a pretty unremarkable hike back to Marcy dam and the lodge. Made me almost wish we had taken the longer route back by Rainbow falls, but my legs were tired and appreciated taking the most direct route back. Loop is 13.6 miles, my very imperfect watch had it closer to 14.5/15. Took us about 9 hours of actual hiking. My son is fast, but had to hold up for me, I’m more of a moderate pace, I think. And enjoyed taking it slowly through Avalanche Pass area. With 1+ hours of stops, back at the Loj in about 10 hours. Loved this one!!!! Will definitely do it again!!!

1 month ago

I'm currently here at Colden headed to Mt. Iroquois then lastly Algonquin. Then home to develope my collection of new pics.

3 months ago

Best hike ive been on, beautiful and really challenging.

4 months ago

Did this loop last week. Crossing-over Avalanche Lake saved a lot of time. Very nice hike with nice viewpoints.

8 months ago

Strenuous, but rewarding.

9 months ago

Beautiful trail into Colden that goes through Avalanche Pass and Avalanche Lake! The ascent is pretty steep but it’s made easier by many ladders and staircase steps that have recently been constructed. Great views of Marcy, Algonquin, Iroquois, and Wright peaks.

10 months ago

I really enjoyed this loop, however, this trail is *NOT DOG FRIENDLY*. I had my 55 lb pooch with me and I chose to carry him up and down ladders rather than turn around. This is definitely a very muddy hike, I would not recommend it immediately following heavy rain and I imagine the bugs are killer during the Summer months. The views are fantastic from the summit and once you break tree line. Took me about 6.5 hours with plenty of stops for pictures and a lunch.

10 months ago

A long hike for sure with plenty of scrambles, but if you don't mind the horrific amounts of biting flies and deep mud, Colden offers excellent views of Marcy, Algonquin, Wright, and Iroquois. And the path around Avalanche lake makes you feel like you're on a playground with all the ladders, bridges and rock jumping. Well worth the trip.

11 months ago

No quick way to get to Colden so its a longer hike but to be honest, compared to other high peaks, the overall grades are not that steep. Due to all the rain this season, the terrain is pretty muddy, especially around Lake Arnold. Views at the summit are impressive, Marcy and the Great Range to the SE and the McIntyre Range to the NW.

11 months ago

Great trail to Avalanche Pass then a great climb up into Colden. Great new Hitchup Mathildas along Avalanche Lake and new stairs up granite steeps on the side of Colden. Coming down the backside to Arnold Lake seems to never end but the beautiful memories from the 360 degree summit of Colden makes it all worth it. Helps that we hit a top 10 hiking weather day. 72 degrees and brilliant sunshine!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Great trail with great views and features. I would rate it as moderate difficulty level, but it definitely gives you the taste of the region (it get's a lot more strenuous near the great peaks) . If you are planning on camping near the lake, plan on arriving earlier as it's a pretty busy spot. Also, make sure you bring a bear canister that up to Adirondacks club's standards (it's free to swap your canister for the approved one, or rent one out for 40$/week if you don't have one). Bears are pretty active by the lake. We saw 3 during our 2 days stay.

Friday, August 04, 2017

What an awesome mountain. Excellent views looking west at the entire Macintyre range and east at Marcy and the upper great range. It was an absolutely perfect day when I had gone out (which may be positively effecting my review here a little). Finished the hike in 6 hours 10 minutes (that includes a 30 min summit stop). Hiked as an out-and-back past Lake Arnold.

*Note: if ascending via Lake Arnold trail, there is a false summit. With low hanging clouds I could easily see this being mistaken as colden's peak. Also there is no marker for the actual summit. When you get to the top of the expansive summit you will see a sign that says "Please place your rocks here." There is a tiny trail just behind it- follow it and you'll come to a boulder surrounded by trees. On top of the boulder is a hole with "Peak" scraped in the rock next to it (I've attached an image).

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Great hike! Definitely recommended! Rather easy as well.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

loved it!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Awesome hike, great views, amazing lakes

Monday, June 12, 2017

This is a really beautiful hike with stunning views at the top, and a few challenging scrambles. We hiked it counter clockwise, as the west side is steep with slippery climbs and wanted to avoid coming down that.

Friday, October 14, 2016

This was a very good hike. The trail was muddy in places from the rain the day before and there was ice as you got closer to the summit. The trail around Lake Arnold was wet and very muddy to trek through. The false summit as you come up from Lake Arnold had good views, but if you look you'll see the true summit which you still have to get to. I did this hike as an out and back instead of the loop. The trail was busy with people today, as I was surprised cause the weather was cold at the summit. You didn't need microspikes, just be a little cautious where you stepped. The summit was very windy today so I didn't stay up there that long. You can see the MacIntyre Range and Mount Marshal from the summit.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Great day hike. 'nuff said about the beauty of Avalanche Lake. Steep ascent from Lake Colden to summit is a great workout. If you are in shape you will revel in the workout. Amazed by the efforts of staff/volunteers to build the amazing staircases in the steepest sections. I counted 101 steps in one of them! Love the ADK.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Possibly my favorite spot in the ADK Park.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Avalanche pass is breathtaking & a really fun hike. The climb up Mt Colden is no joke, but the reward of the amazing view from the summit makes it completely worth it!

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