Stand on the summit of New York State’s highest peak, surrounded by gorgeous alpine flowers and an endless 360 degree view. Break up this long hike into a couple of days and maximize your time in nature by using Johns Brook Lodge as your base camp.
Trailhead: Garden in Keene Valley. There is a $7 per day fee to park in this lot, and it fills quickly on weekends. Arrive early or hike on a weekday to avoid the crowds, or park at Marcy Field and take the shuttle to the trailhead. While parking at Marcy Field is free, the shuttle only runs Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays and there is a $5 round trip fee to use it.
Base Camp: Enjoy a 3.5 mile hike on rolling terrain following a trail marked with yellow DEC disks, also known as the Phelps Trail. After 3.1 miles, at the T, turn right to follow it for another half mile or so to Johns Brook Lodge. Don’t worry about pitching a tent in the rain or whether the lean-tos will be full when you arrive. Make a reservation at JBL to have a bunk and dinner waiting for you! Spend some quiet reflection time beside Johns Brook or mingle with other guests, and don’t forget to check out the stars from the new porch before heading off to bed!
The Hike: From the large signpost outside of JBL, follow the yellow marked (Phelps) trail toward Mount Marcy for approximately 1.5 miles to a junction. Here you’ll want to take the red marked trail to the left to stay on the Phelps Trail and rock hop across Johns Brook. The Phelps Trail continues to be marked with red DEC disks for 3.5 miles, over which you’ll encounter a mix of level and moderate terrain with some steep sections, and cross Johns Brook a couple more times. You’ll then find yourself at a junction with the blue marked Van Hoevenberg Trail, which you will follow 0.6 miles to the summit of Mount Marcy. During this last leg, you’ll find yourself out on open rock and the trail will have cairns and yellow paint blazes guiding you up. You’ll be in the arctic-alpine zone, so be sure to stay on the rocks and watch where you step! Enjoy your trail lunch on New York’s high point, and return the way you hiked up. For full trail descriptions and details, refer to the High Peaks Trails guide book and Trails of the Adirondack High Peaks map.
Special Considerations: The summit of Mount Marcy is home to an arctic-alpine zone where you’ll find rare and fragile plants. Please walk only on solid, hard rock surfaces to protect these plants and avoid stepping on vegetation.
Optional Side Trip: Head down a steep 250 yard spur trail to see Bushnell Falls. Find the spur trail by hiking approximately 1.5 miles on the yellow marked Phelps Trail from JBL and keep an eye out on the left. It’s about 50 yards before the trail junction with the Hopkins Trail (yellow) and Phelps Trail (red).
Get Out There:
Guide Book: High Peaks Trails, 14th edition, page 32-34.
Map: Trails of the Adirondack High Peaks Map, 14th edition
Call 518-523-3441 for reservations at Johns Brook Lodge or visit www.adk.org