Mount Skylight, Mount Marcy, and Gray Peak Loop Trail is a 17.6 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Lake Placid, New York that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
17.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
5,068 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

backpacking

camping

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

muddy

rocky

snow

off trail

Two enormous bald summit 46ers and a trailess Gray Peak in a day loop hike form Heart Lake. A state highpoint as well. This is an epic hike that will gain you three more Adirondack 46er peaks along with the State Highpoint, Mt. Marcy. Make sure to follow the GPS track and pay attention to the trail junctions as there a few. You'll pass by alpine lakes, the start of the mighty Hudson River, and descend the state highpoint past a beautiful waterfall. This hike can be done in one very long day or in an overnight with a stay at Marcy Dam where the loop hike begins. Parking is $10 per day

hiking
1 month ago

Okay let's level-set here. I've been all over the world, for example the Wind River Range in Wyoming, or the Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt, or up Denali. So I'm probably spoiled. Or something. So be forewarned.

But having said that: this hike is kinda miserable. I hate to rain on everyone's parade. I mean there are some beautiful views, especially from the top of Marcy, where I was above the clouds on a beautiful morning.

But the hike up and the hike down were some of the toughest most un-walkable "trails" I've ever seen. And that's before I tell you about the bear problem.

So let's get started. The walk out of the Adirondack Loj to Marcy Dam is a nice little jaunt. And it's a trail, by which I mean a somewhat dirt based path through the woods.

But then you start up. I did this in late September. It was a dry summer. But it had rained a few days. The trail gets wetter and wetter. You're basically hiking up a creek in the woods. In one place that everyone here mentions, just past Lake Arnold, the water was almost to our waist on the trail. Our dog was swimming. And she's not that small.

Now I know what you're thinking: "Who cares, you're hiking!" Sure. But I'm talking four miles of muddy rocky slosh with no views. Just know what you're getting into.

Ok now for the bears. We stopped to camp between Lake Arnold and Marcy. A nice black bear walked into our cook site. I won't bore you with the details but let's start by saying I was camping clean, meaning that all my smelly stuff, including sunscreen and toothpaste and whatever, was in my bear canister at the cook site.

The dog went nuts. I was calling Hey Bear and trying to scare him a bit. But he walked straight up to us and luckily past us to go for the food. I backed away carefully to the lean to, thinking we were safe and he was just looking for food. But guess who showed up to the lean to 30 minutes later? You guessed it. Ursus major. And there he stood for two hours. Sniffing the air. Dog barking. I put loud music on my phone. I waved my arms. Etc. He just kept sniffing. Very close. He came and went throughout the night.

Okay so you're thinking he was a black bear and he wasn't going to hurt us. You try sitting in a lean to with a bear 20-30 feet out all night, those yellow eyes in your headlamp light, his breath steaming up in the air.

Next morning we got ready to go but again, the bear was on the trail out, so we continued up the peaks. I'll say this: THE VIEWS ARE BEAUTIFUL. It was pouring rain when we set out but amazingly cleared just as we summited Marcy and we were above a cloud layer in the sun. They don't call it a high peak for nothing. You'd think you were 10,000 ft higher. Just gorgeous. Fall colors. Mist. Real Lord of the Rings stuff.

But now the walk down. It's a six mile, boulder hoping, sopping wet, creek bed, one slick rock to the next, in the trees. It's not a trail per se, if by trail you mean that dirt thing that you walk on. It's just wet rock after rock, with a bunch of mud in between them. If you want to do the hike bring some beefy boots. This isn't for your trail runners.

Well that's about it. I'm still glad I did. It's a real wilderness. But anyone who thinks the White Mountains are tough, or has put off of a pass in the Winds, or whatever, better know that this thing is the real deal.

Have fun!

1 month ago

I did this trail in 11.5 hours, I didn't think I would make it as I didn't bring a head lamp but that was good motivation to move fast. It was raining and half the trail was flooded. Was tough but I was super happy I was able to do all 3 summit. Also the view was amazing and the best training mountain for high altitude if you in Ontario.

hiking
2 months ago

Very challenging hike. I clocked 18.2 miles. Gray had a much better view than I was expecting. The Four Corners was my favorite part of the hike; being able to shoot up Gray, Skylight, and Marcy in a short amount of time was very rewarding.

paddle sports
3 months ago

Mount Sasquatch was a treat. We ran out of candy corn as we reached the peak which was very sad. We met the Sasquatch and he told us in reality he was a yeti. That’s fine. Not as cool. He offered us more candy corn in his white van and we gladly accepted. Great hike for anyone who likes to look at objects, preferably trees or rocks.

3 months ago

A solid day with solid mountains. Gray has lookouts on a Boulder but plan to spend your time hanging out on Skylight and Marcy, two of the best summits around. Long walk in to the Marcy trail but once you get there it’s not long before you’re taking the herd path to gray, and at that point you’ll summit all 3 in just a couple hours as that point a lot of the leg work is done. The bog on lake Arnold trail with floating logs was atrocious to cross and of course both shoes were soaked. If doing this loop I’d recommend bringing flip flops/Crocs/etc in your pack for this section of the trail. Just take off the boots and switch to sandals. Other than that section of the trail this hike was great.

hiking
3 months ago

Having hiked Marcy multiple times in the past I decided to do Skylight and Gray as an out-and-back, sunset hike from the LOJ via Lake Arnold trail. It had rained heavily the past 3 days so I was a bit concerned about going through the floating bridges area near Feldspar after dark. Yep... I was soaked up past the knee-both times. It may have been due to the recent rainfall but the water level even while on the bridges was deeper than 2.5 feet at times. Easy enough to find your way through it, just know you are going to get wet and (though I didn't use them) trekking poles would probably help.

I was on Gray during sunset and made it to Skylight just before the sun disappeared behind the MacIntyre Range. Sitting on top of Skylight by myself after 9:30pm as the stars came out was a magical experience.

The last 9+ miles back to the LOJ were in darkness. Eerily silent between Feldspar and Lake Arnold- no wind due to the surrounding mountains, no toads, no bugs, no birds, no streams- it was a natural deadzone. I turned off my headlamp at one point just to experience it with all senses and the silence was almost deafening.

I did not see any hikers out on the trails past 7pm (near Lake Arnold and they were descending quickly). Was nice to have what would normally be a busy trail to myself at sunset. It didn't start to rain on me until 1:45 am which was about 15 mins before finishing.

hiking
4 months ago

this was a brutal hike to do in 90+ weather in a day. Save marcy for last and stay in the tree cover out of the sun that way. I burn through water so bring a filter. I'll be coming back to do it again!

hiking
4 months ago

Amazing trip! Well worth it, even the hike down.

4 months ago

Fun run. No whining people took about 6:20 mins

4 months ago

This is not for the faint of heart!

It is a brutal 17 miles whether it’s from the heat, the mud, the ice/snow at the top etc. You will not get a break here.

All that hard work pays off in the end with absolutely gorgeous views from the summit, waterfalls, and wildlife. It is definitely one of my favorites.

It took my group about 12 hours to complete this hike and we are experienced and relatively swift hikers. (Who also stoped for 3 lunches along the way

backpacking
5 months ago

Very strenuous, but worth every step. You’ll pass multiple waterfalls, beautiful views. You might be too exhausted to appreciate them, however. I recommend (if you’re doing a multiday trip) to leave your heavy packs down at the base and climb up with daypacks.

hiking
Monday, September 25, 2017

Did it on an overcast day! Beautiful still and such fun rocks to climb! Dog did it with me! Would recommend an early start, but if not, headlamps!

hiking
Sunday, August 27, 2017

We camped at Marcy Dam the night before the hike and again the night after, so it was about 13 miles for us. We also did the loop in a clockwise direction, so we climbed Marcy first, then Skylight, then Gray, and out along the Feldspar Brook trail. The views were fabulous, especially from Marcy and Skylight. The floating bridges at Feldspar were not that bad after several dry days and we were able to get across without getting wet or using water shoes.

hiking
Thursday, August 17, 2017

This was my first time up Marcy, and definitely not my last. Great views, as one can expect from the High Peaks Region!
One note of caution, however; the bridges over the marshy areas between Feldspar and Lake Arnold are in disrepair as of August 15th, 2017. Plan on getting wet!

hiking
Saturday, July 22, 2017

Amazing views with moderate climbs. Had enough time to add Haystack to the loop as well. Highly recommended!

backpacking
Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Super easy and fun I love it

hiking
Friday, May 26, 2017

Just an incredible day, hike and company. So lucky to experience it.
http://mimiandjoe.blogspot.com/2016/10/an-epic-hike-gray-mountain-mount.html

hiking
Thursday, December 29, 2016

An amazing hike and very challenging. It took us 12 hours. half the group did skylight, the other half didn't bring enough water to do it. we got stuck in a pop up thunder storm on the way up Marcy. definitely a hike I will never forget!

hiking
Sunday, December 11, 2016

An amazing hike but pretty challenging. The loop incorporates some of the most impressive sights in the High Peaks. Plan on being out for a full day as its a long hike (it's more like 19 miles round trip) with a lot of climbing. It took my group about 12 hours. It was April when we did the hike so there was still a lot of snow. To do the loop, take the Avalanche Pass Trail past Marcy Dam and then go left on the trail to Lake Arnold. After Lake Arnold, the trail descends into a valley with many wet areas. At one place you walk across floating boards in a bog; this section might be troublesome after heavy rain. Past the Uphill Lean-To you go left and climb up to Lake Tear-of-the-Clouds. Gray Peak is trailless but the herd path is easy to follow. Just look for it on the other side of the stream right at the lake's outlet. It's steep but not too long. The spur trail for Skylight is much easier, and the views from the summit are spectacular. The ascent of Marcy from Four Corners is exhilarating and almost completely above treeline. From Marcy's summit we could see hundreds of miles in every direction. I was awed looking towards Mt. Haystack and seeing the really deep Panther Gorge that separates the two peaks. The descent on the Van Hoevenberg Trail was comparatively easier and was a respite after a hard, but rewarding day. Don't forget to visit Indian Falls on the way down, we didn't go see it but it's a really short detour where there's supposed to be a nice lookout.

hiking
Saturday, September 10, 2016

Very challenging trail path offers you three peaks in a roll. Three peaks are very close. The Gray is an unofficial trail but gives you a direct view of Whiteface Mt if you sit on the rock at the summit. The Skylight is on the opposite side.
Skylight is my favorite trail to the peak. It takes only 20 mins on the well worn path with steep slope.
Marcy is very rocky when you get close to the summit. No doubt you can have panoramic view of other mountains. We even saw the Green Mt and White Mt. This depends on the weather condition.

camping
Wednesday, August 31, 2016

My friend and I did the Marcy, Skylight, and Gray Loop. However, Gray is considered a unmaintained herd path and isn't marked so we passed it by accident. We would of back tracked but would of risked not making it out before dark so we decided against it. The hike is NOT 16.9 miles like the site says. If we had done Gray it would of been a total of just over 19 miles. But besides that it was a challenging but amazing hike! So glad we split it up between two days. The views are amazing from Skylight and we had the peak to ourselves. Marcy is very touristy but it was still breathtaking.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

climbed the loop of grey, skylight, Marcy in one very long day. we did on Saturday and the weather was perfect. the views were amazing on skylight. my gf and I felt very rewarded with three more peaks in this epic loop. if you plan on having breaks and extended photo time leave early or make a two day. love it all

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