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Backpacker Magazine – August 2009

Rip & Go: Five Mountain Loop - Adirondack High Peaks, NY

Trek to the trail-free summits of Macomb, Hough, and The Dixes

by: Berne Broudy, Illustrations by Supercorn

East Dix Slide (Nancie Battaglia)
East Dix Slide (Nancie Battaglia)

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GPS-Enabled Trip Report
See this trip on a map, download it to your phone, GPS, or computer, and more.

Do It
Forty-six peaks in the Adirondacks rise higher than 4,000 feet. Locals call them "46ers," and you'll tag five on this 17.3-mile loop. From a parking area on the south side of NY 73, seven miles south of Keene Valley, access the unsigned (and unnamed) but easy-to-spot trail (1). Head southwest past a killer swimming hole to cross the North Fork of the Bouquet River at mile .7 (2). From here, the trail weaves through ferny undergrowth to another crossing at mile 3.3. Just beyond are three tent sites (3). Camp here and rest up for a big day two. In the morning, top off your water; this is your last reliable water source for the next 10 miles. The trail gets steeper and rockier and peters out at mile 4.7, at the base of the East Dix slide (4), where a 35- to 40-degree rock slab leads .3 mile to the open summit of East Dix (5). Note: If it's raining, skip the steep scramble for a faint path to the right of the slide's base.

At the 4,012-foot summit, follow cairns southwest along the ridge for a mile to the top of 4,060-foot South Dix (6). From here, drop 500 feet to a saddle (7) between South Dix and 4,405-foot Macomb Mountain. A spur leads to Macomb (8), the day's third 46er. Return to South Dix and head north to 4,400-foot Hough Peak (9). Beyond, the forest transitions to birch and stunted balsam as you climb steeply toward 4,857-foot Dix Mountain. Reach the Beckhorn (a false summit) at mile 8.9 (10), then continue to the top (11). Descend the steep and rooty Dix Trail 1,600 feet to a traverse of the Dix Slide at mile 9.9 (12). The trail levels out beyond here and reaches the Bouquet lean-to at mile 11.2 (13). Camp here for one more night out (first-come, first-serve). From here, it's a gradual 4.2-mile descent to the road (14), then 1.9 miles east to your car.

Trip Planner
Driving From Keene Valley, drive south on NY 73 seven miles to a bridge over the North Fork of the Bouquet River. Park in a pullout on the left, immediately after the bridge. Beware: The parking entrance is rough. Late August is primo (no blackflies).

Gear up Get everything from fuel to crampons, rent a pack and poles, and browse the region's best map selection for ADK trails at The Mountaineer (1866 NY 73, Keene Valley, NY; 518-576-2281;

None required.

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Reader Rating: -


Star Star Star Star Star
Erik Johnson
Dec 21, 2013

I did this loop this past July on a rainy and windy day and it is was still one of my favorite hikes out of all the high peaks. We started going up the scramble to Macomb, which was some of the most fun hiking I have done. From everything I have read we missed some spectacular views, but if I had the chance I would do this loop again with or without them.

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Oct 22, 2010

how is it for winter hiking? do we need ropes to lower packs or scramble.

Oct 04, 2010

Campfires are allowed in the Dix Wilderness region in the Adirondacks. They are not allowed; however, in the Eastern High Peaks Region of the park which is where majority of the 46ers are located.

Sep 11, 2010

I remembered that campfire was not allowed? is this still true?

Brock Landers
Sep 10, 2010

Regarding the Mt Marcy loop hike starting at the Garden that proceeds over Saddleback & Basin Mts.I did this last year from the Slant Rock lean to w/o a heavy pack and found the last 200 feet of both MTS quite technical.Saddleback is the most technical of all peaks in the High Peaks region acording to locals.To do this with a heavy pack from the direction of the Garden would be very difficult as you would have to lower yourself to footholds you cant see.Best to to these Mtns from the direction of Slant Rock as a day pack hike!! The trail guides agree with me!!

Derek Mitchell
Jul 16, 2010

Noonmark Diner is the best!


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