Adirondack Park: Five Mountain Loop

This 17.3-mile Adirondack adventure leads to the 4,000-foot summits of Macomb Mountain, Hough Peak, and The Dixes.
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This 17.3-mile Adirondack adventure leads to the 4,000-foot summits of Macomb Mountain, Hough Peak, and The Dixes.

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. Head southwest past a killer swimming hole to cross the North Fork of the Bouquet River at mile .7.

From here, the trail weaves through ferny undergrowth to another crossing at mile 3.3. Just beyond are three tent sites. 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, where a 35- to 40-degree rock slab leads .3 mile to the open summit of East Dix. 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. From here, drop 500 feet to a saddle between South Dix and 4,405-foot Macomb Mountain. A spur leads to Macomb, the day's third 46er. Return to South Dix and head north to 4,400-foot Hough Peak. 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.

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; mountaineer.com).

-Mapped by Berne Broudy, AuthenticOutdoors.com

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 27.8

Waypoints

DIX001

Location: 44.112714, -73.709207

From an off-the-road parking lot where the North Fork of the Bouquet River crosses Route 73, follow the trail past several campsites and killer swimming holes.

DIX002

Location: 44.110052, -73.718991

The trail crosses the river (follow the cairns that mark the route). Next, continue a gradual climb.

DIX003

Location: 44.070814, -73.76195

After passing a group campsite area, the trail begins a steeper climb up the base of the East Dix slide (there's a single campsite near the top of the slide). Note: In super dry years, you'll have to backtrack to the headwaters of the Bouquet to get water for the rest of the trip.

DIX004

Location: 44.065711, -73.757186

Pass a single campsite (water trickles down the slide and pools at the edge near this spot). Fill up here for the rest of the hike (unless it's been very dry recently). From here, the trail leaves the slide to begin a scramble to the summit of East Dix. The final 100 feet up East Dix are steep but there is a bushwhack option on the right side. If the slide is wet, follow a herd path that starts on the right-hand side and traverses left about 300 feet up.

DIX005

Location: 44.065094, -73.757379

From the top of East Dix, take in views of the entire Dix Cirque then follow cairns along the rocky ridge to the South Dix summit (climb the rockpile).

DIX006

Location: 44.059936, -73.774567

Descend southwest to a saddle for an optional, 1.4-mile out-and-back detour to Macomb Mountain, another 4,000-foot high peak. Hikers can bypass the detour by hiking northwest along the ridgeline to Hough Peak.

DIX007

Location: 44.057878, -73.777335

From the saddle between South Dix and Macomb Mountain, climb through a fern forest with thick, lush vegetation.

DIX008

Location: 44.051699, -73.780242

Macomb Mountain: Macomb's summit ledges offer outstanding views to the west-northwest of the Dix Wilderness and the Colvin Range. From here, backtrack to South Dix (Waypoint 7) and continue northwest toward Hough Peak.

DIX009

Location: 44.065387, -73.777614

From a saddle northwest of South Dix, tackle a steep climb to Hough Peak through softwood forest.

DIX010

Location: 44.069642, -73.777785

From the top of Hough Peak, descend northwest through a blowdown area that affords great views of Dix and Beck-horn ahead.

DIX011

Location: 44.079847, -73.78506

Continue past Beck-horn, the false summit of Dix Mountain.

DIX012

Location: 44.082268, -73.786626

Dix Mountain: Take in 360-degree Adirondack views from the hike's high point. Ahead, hike down a steep and rooty maintained trail along the Dix slide. Follow cairns and paint as you cross the slide on a 1,600-foot descent. From here to the end of the hike, the route follows an established and maintained trail.

DIX013

Location: 44.092948, -73.78727

At the base of the Dix slide, the grade mellows as the trail continues descending gradually towards the Bouquet River.

DIX014

Location: 44.107556, -73.774266

Cross the Bouquet River, passing a lean-to shelter. Ahead, the trail passes a junction up to Noonmark Mountain before continuing its gradual descent. Further on, bear right at the trail marker toward the shimmering Round Pond; listen for the slap of beavers.

DIX015

Location: 44.13131, -73.7306

From the trailhead parking lot on VT 73, it's a 1.9-mile walk (or shuttle drive) back to the beginning of the hike.