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Backpacker Magazine – August 2009

Where Solitude Rules - Surprise Escapes

Find real solitude amid the crowds at these secret stashes.

by: Dougald MacDonald

Olympic National Park (Don Geyer)
Olympic National Park (Don Geyer)
Grand Canyon (Dave Showalter)
Grand Canyon (Dave Showalter)

Guide's Secret Mt. Rainier National Park
"Klapatche and St. Andrews Parks are two of the most spectacular areas of Mt. Rainier," says Eric Simonson, of International Mountain Guides, "but they've been visited very little since the West Side Road was closed by flooding." A perfect day trip: Ride a bike eight miles up the road to St. Andrews trailhead, and hike 6.5 miles (round-trip) to lily-filled meadows. nps.gov/mora


SOLITUDE RULES

Find more crowd-free hikes.

Adirondacks, New York
Scramble the Great Slide to the top of East Dix.

Few summits in the Dix Range have maintained trails, all but guaranteeing solitude in this quiet corner of the High Peaks. To climb 4,012-foot East Dix, you'll follow unmarked social trails and the Great Slide, an exciting scramble on the northwest face. From NY 73, hike along two forks of the Bouquet River through a birch forest, reaching the Great Slide after 5.5 miles.

The swath of broken granite shoots up 850 feet at an average angle of almost 40 degrees. In dry conditions, it should be a cinch, but don't let your guard down–you'll definitely need to use your hands at the top. (Don't like exposure? A social path weaves through the trees alongside.) From the summit, return the way you came or continue over South Dix, Hough Mountain, and Dix Mountain (stock up on water for this challenging three-mile traverse). At the summit of 4,857-foot Dix Mountain, you'll finally reach a maintained trail, which you can follow about five miles north to the highway, ending 1.9 miles from your car.

Days 1
Maps USGS topos Witherbee and Mt. Marcy
Permits None for dayhikes
Info adk.org




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READERS COMMENTS

Anonymous
Feb 04, 2011

I wouldn't say that you're going to find solitude at Klapatche and St. Andrews unless you're hiking up there out of season (and then, you're chancing some iffy-looking snow around St. Andrews Lake). In season, Klapatche (along with Golden Lakes) is known for its gorgeous sunsets, and oftentimes the backcountry campground is full - so it's hardly solitary. That said, it's not like visiting Sunrise or Paradise which is swarming with tourists in flip flops - the people who you will run into are almost sure to be Wonderland thru hikers (:

Ted
Sep 10, 2009

I did this loop over labor day weekend, although I did the whole hike in a day and a half. I got to the trail head mid-afternoon, and hiked to Gourd Lake that evening. The next day I did the rest of the loop and didn't see a single person the second day till I got back to the trail head.

Be aware, the trail leading away from stone lake isn't the best, so have a good map with you. Also, the descent to stone lake is a very steep one, so I would not do this loop backwards...

Britton Maier
Aug 20, 2009

On August 23, 2009, a friend and I attempted this Adirondack Five Peaks Loop starting with the hike to the East Dix slide. First, let me state that this is an excellent hike, especially if you like hiking along mountain rivers and streams. However, as the description states, the trail from NY-73 & the Bouquet River is not marked. There are numerous well-worn social trails but the trail is not clear on how to reach East Dix. We frequently found ourselves off the trail but eventually found our way to the base of the slide. Suggestion: from NY-73 & Bouquet River, start out on trail on the east side of the River. You do not need to go more than 1/2 mile before you need to find a crossing to the west side of the river where you pick up the official trail. If you attempt to start on the west side of the river, the trail is wiped out by a rock slide. If on the east side trail you reach the flooded area behind the beaver dam, you need to backtrack a ways and find a river crossing. We found two crossings that got us onto the correct trail on the west side of the trail. The first opportunity was across a large fallen tree and then up the far bank to the trail (this is probably the more difficult to find crossing). The second crossing is where the "flume" is located. By this we mean where the river water is typically constricted between two huge boulders and then drops 30-40 feet in a water fall to a pool below. To cross, you must be on top of the boulders where the water shoots between them. There is a rock wedged between the boulders; use this wedged rock as your stepping stone to the other side. Proceed up the bank and the trail is there. As you head up river on the trail, you will reach a fork in the trail. One trail heads to the right and continues up the north fork of the Bouquet River - you do not want this trail although there is a nice campsite a mile or so back where the trail more or less ends (requires some bushwacking). The trail you do want branches off to the left and descends quickly. From here, the trail is well defined and fairly easy to follow. You will cross the river and several small streams. In places, you will actually hike up stream/river beds so keep your eyes open to follow the logical trail. Eventually you will arrive at a firepit (no camping allowed) with white birch trees. The only trail option is to cross the stream next to the firepit site. On the other side, you will see an official campsite. Go into the campsite and take the trail out of the campsite located in the site and on your right. Do not take the trail up stream/river that is outside the campsite where you just crossed. Once you are on the trail out of the campsite, you will be able to remain on the trail and reach the East Dix slide. To the left of the base of the slide is a campsite good for at least one tent if not two (we did a 2-person tent and a bivy). If it rained recently, water will be streaming down the slide and you will have a water source; if no rain, then backtrack to the river for water (not too far away). The trail on the right side of the slide is just as steep and demanding as climbing the slide. However, someone recently marked the trail with plastic ribbon ties which was quite helpful. Once you reach the top of East Dix, follow the trail towards South Dix and eventually onto a marked trail that helps you complete the Loop and brings you back to NY-73 about 1.9 miles west/north of your parked vehicle.

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