Yes, 5,344-foot Mt. Marcy attracts a crowd. No, you don’t have to join it. Most hikers follow a series of trails from the Adirondack Loj to the east. But heed our team’s advice: Head for Marcy’s summit via the Elk Lake Trail and you’ll find guaranteed solitude—and a perfect long weekend—on a 30.6-mile, three-day backpack that tags Marcy and two more 4,000-footers. “It’s pure wilderness,” promises Tim Dubois. “It’s everything you like about the raw, wild character of the Adirondacks rolled into one trip.”
Day one Set out on the Elk Lake Trail (marked with blue discs), which slips through private land for the first 6.5 miles (no camping permitted). At mile 5.5, reach an open bog called Marcy Swamp, with views north to the mountain. In another 3.2 miles, pass an open area in an otherwise dense beech forest where Hurricane Floyd flattened the trees in 1999. Just after, enter Panther Gorge and gain 1,200 feet in a little over three miles before reaching Panther Gorge lean-to and its nearby tent sites. Set up a basecamp here.