Route: Adirondack Great Range Traverse (NY)

New York, US
35 km
Vertical Gain
3000 m

The Great Range is an 11-mile contiguous chain of mountains in the heart of the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks. It's not clear if there is a "standard" way to do the traverse, and the page on it says "Ask ten people what constitutes a Great Range traverse, and you'll likely get ten different answers." But, it seems like doing the traverse requires summitting everything between Hedgehog Mountain and Mount Marcy, possibly incluidng Rooster Comb and Mount Haystack. As done by Wellford (see map) the route is about 25 miles with 9500 feet of elevation gain and 9000 feet of loss, starting at the Rooster Comb TH and ending at the Garden TH, both in Keene Valley. Backpacker Magazine called this the third hardest dayhike in America, and described it thus:

There's no small irony in the fact that New York's tallest peak is merely the last challenge on this classic loop-and far from the toughest. The route scales nine peaks, including six 4,000-footers and the aforementioned 5,344-foot Mt. Marcy. But numerous cols and false summits, plus heinously eroded trail beds, wear you down physically and psychologically. From Keene Valley, the murderer's row of peaks includes Rooster Comb, Hedgehog, Lower Wolf Jaw, Upper Wolf Jaw, Armstrong, Gothics, Saddleback, Haystack, and Marcy, from which you descend the Phelps Trail. Gut-check moments include a half-mile of teetering above a 700-foot drop on a knife-edge between the Wolf Jaws - inevitably followed by a steep climb - and the southeast face of Gothics, a scary-steep, exposed descent over open slab rock. There are long stretches of scrambling and ladder-climbing, and you'll need to carry enough water for the day.

Ben Nephew proposed an "Ultra Tour du Great Range":

Great Range out to Marcy, skipping Haystack for later. Out and back to Skylight because it is an awesome peak, and then up the back of Haystack and back on the Great Range. You can skip Rooster Comb on the way back. The difference in traversing the Great Range depending on the direction is quite profound. The objective here was to create a challenge in the Adirondacks similar to the Swan Song, and the numbers are very similar. It's a long day out and wild ride. (about 29 miles, see Nephew's Strava for the track.)

GPS Track


I ran 5:17:03 today. I accidentally stopped my watch for 29 seconds heading up Saddleback, hence the difference in times (5:16:34 versus 5:17:03). Great weather! A little more mud from LWJ to Basin compared to last year.