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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.

Key Skill
Slide Hiking
At mile 4.75, you'll encounter East Dix slide, a vertiginous, 850-foot-long rock slab. It's the most exciting–and dangerous–section of the hike. Follow these steps to ascend with ease:

1) Shorten your trekking poles for a more stable plant, and use the wrist straps so you can let go of the pole to scramble on all fours for short sections.
2) Maintain a low and forward center of gravity by keeping your knees bent and relaxed and your hands slightly forward. If you use a chest pack for your camera, move it to your pack and stuff the heaviest items closest to your back.
3) Test footing and handholds before committing. Sections of trickling water can be slippery. Slide your foot back and forth with part of your weight on it while balancing your upper body with your poles. If it slips, search for another hold.
4) Use the rest step; it's not just for high-altitude peaks. Step forward onto your left leg while keeping body weight on your right leg with your knee locked. Pause before transferring your weight to your left leg. Then step forward. These micro-rests between steps will enable you to ascend steadily without burning out.

See This

Geologists believe that this rock, one of the oldest on Earth, formed when North America and Europe split, bringing billion-year-old magma to the surface. East Dix slide, an 850-foot-long swath, is one of the best places to see the bumpy, blue-gray rock. The slide is significantly older than the peaks surrounding it, which are a comparatively youthful 10 million years old.

Locals Know
The Adirondacks, and the Dix Wilderness in particular, are hotbeds for rare birds (almost 300 total species have been sighted here). "Boreal bird habitat is rare in the continental U.S.," says Phil Brown, publisher of Adirondack Birds: 60 Great Places to Find Birds. "The black pole warbler, Swainson's thrush, American pipet, and black-backed woodpecker are most often seen in Canada and Alaska. But we have them here, too, thanks to pockets of boreal habitat in the High Peaks." In shady stands of stunted spruce, like on the slopes of Hough, listen for the soft rat-a-tat tapping of the black-backed woodpecker, or the call of the yellow-bellied flycatcher, which makes itself known with a kill-ink, tu-wee, or when it's feeling territorial, a confident brrrt sound.

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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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