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Backpacker Magazine – January/February 2010

Readers' Choice Northeast Hikes: Panther Gorge and Mt. Marcy, Adirondack Park, NY

Bag New York's high point and two other big peaks.

by: Northeast Reader Map Team

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Panther Gorge & Mt. Marcy Adirondack Park, NY (Tim Seaver)
Panther Gorge & Mt. Marcy Adirondack Park, NY (Tim Seaver)

READERS CHOICE 2010
See which other trips made it into our annual awards.
Ricketts Glen State Park, PA | Panther Gorge and Mt. Marcy, Adirondack Park, NY | Bernard Mountain, Acadia National Park, ME | Vermont's Green Mountains Foliage | Maine's 100-Mile Wilderness | Burroughs Range Loop, Catskill Mountain Preserve, NY |

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.



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Reader Rating: -

READERS COMMENTS

Dean
Apr 14, 2011

The way this winter has been I would imagine a lot of the high peaks, especially Marcy will have plenty of snow and possibly ice until late june/july...its not uncommon to see them even in late July/August!

Bushwicker
Mar 10, 2011

Me & my buds arw planning on doing this hike this coming June, starting from Elk Lake Lodge. Does anyone know how long a hike it is to Panther Gorge lean-to (at a moderately manly pace)?

Mike
Oct 11, 2010

Considering doing the Elk Lake trail Oct 18-21. What weather should I expect? Do we really need a bear canister?
Did Bright Angel trail, Grand Canyon in May. Will this hike be more challanging than that?

Thanks!

Bryan
Sep 14, 2010

Just got back from doing this 3 day trip from Elk Lake. had absolutely perfect weather for Saturday's summit pushes. We hit Haystack first and then over to Marcy. Was amazed at some of the insanely steep pitches on Haystack. We had Haystack's summit to ourselves; left Panther Gorge lean-to at 7:30 AM and were up there by shortly after 9. Didn't see a single other person from Friday morning until around 11 AM Saturday on the way up to Marcy.

This was a great fitness test for me and my group; definitely need to work on the knees and hips! The descent from Marcy heading to Skylight had me tip toeing down, couldn't imagine doing it in rainy weather and fog!

Bryan
Sep 14, 2010

Just got back from doing this 3 day trip from Elk Lake. had absolutely perfect weather for Saturday's summit pushes. We hit Haystack first and then over to Marcy. Was amazed at some of the insanely steep pitches on Haystack. We had Haystack's summit to ourselves; left Panther Gorge lean-to at 7:30 AM and were up there by shortly after 9. Didn't see a single other person from Friday morning until around 11 AM Saturday on the way up to Marcy.

This was a great fitness test for me and my group; definitely need to work on the knees and hips! The descent from Marcy heading to Skylight had me tip toeing down, couldn't imagine doing it in rainy weather and fog!

Kim Phillips, Backpacker
May 24, 2010

Jim Wallace: Mount Marcy is a two-page article. Click on the "2" at the bottom of the page to read the rest of the story.

Steve
Apr 29, 2010

Hiking Marcy in May is unpredictable. Be prepared for snow as you reach higher elevations and the black flies in May are relentless. Once on the summit however, there are less flies and spectacular views. Anyone who has hiked in the Adirondacks knows many of the trails follow streams and creek beds. When they are still covered with snow, the melt running underneath hollows out the snow and you can literally spend hours pulling yourself out of waist deep snow as you continually crash through the hollowed out trail. Take it from someone who has been there, check trail conditions ahead of time and pack snow shoes if there is any snow on the trail!

Jim Wallace
Apr 17, 2010

What kind of shit is this?I have to subscribe to read the rest of the article?I buy the magazine,but wish to just see this article.I've climbed Marcy a ton of times,but never from Panther Gorge

Robin
Feb 28, 2010

Hiked Marcy in July '09. The r/t day hike from Loj to summit is a full day hike. Be prepared for wet boggy areas and trail mud. Views are great once past Indian Falls, not much till then. wind chill on the summit even in late July. Rangers are usually on the trail and summit stewards are great to talk with. Enjoy!

CJ
Feb 26, 2010

I have hiked and backpacked in the Adirondacks many times. The High Peaks region is my favorite. Have you every hiked a dry creek bed,uphill for 7 miles? That is the High Peaks. Challenging but very rewarding.

Rich
Feb 19, 2010

The climb up Haystack from Panther Gorge will give you a thrill. There is a lot of elevation gain in a short time ( or it is very steep) and you are exposed for a good portion of the climb. It is definitely remote and you may not see anything but bears until you reach the summitt's.

B. Maier
Feb 18, 2010

Check and make sure certain high terrain trails are not closed due to wet ground and the effort to protect the environment. Definitely be prepared for anything as you go from low to high elevation. This includes bears, difficult terrain, high cliffs/drop offs, etc., and make darn sure you have good hiking boots. Anything over 10 miles for inexperienced hikers will be grueling - you might want to plan an overnight. Once you head up mountain, there will be limited water so bring plenty with you (several liters per person).

Bill
Feb 18, 2010

If you don't have a lot of backpacking experience..Hike Marcy from the Loj...If you need to ask what gear to bring you need to do more research..

sara
Feb 07, 2010

hit the trail early...we slept in our car. wear good shoes (it seems like common sense, but trust me) bring moleskin in case your feet start to blister. we have always done the shorter hike (19 miles roundtrip) in 1 day. be prepared for bears. have fun :)

melissa
Jan 30, 2010

A friend and I would like to hike Marcy in the spring (maybe May?) but don't have a lot of backpacking experience. Any simple suggestions, eg. gear? how much water? or even what time to hit the trail on days 1 & 3? Thanks!

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