Distance 23 miles
Gain 9,000 feet
Why it’s grand You won’t find many tougher hikes in the Northeast—or in America—than this legendary Adirondack challenge. The GRT has it all: exposed scrambling, slide climbs, tough trail, and six 4,000-footers, including Mt. Marcy, the state’s highest peak.
Do it Park a shuttle car at Heart Lake ($10/day) and drive west to an unnamed trailhead off NY 73 just south of the town of Keene Valley. Start your hike up 2,762-foot Rooster Comb, the first of the peaks. Don’t expect much flat ground after the rocky tabletop summit—this hike packs in 8,500 feet of elevation loss to counter the 9,000 feet of gain. You’ll face steep scrambling, the ascent up igneous slabs on Gothics (with a cable to aid), and rocky descents on a high, weather-vulnerable ridge. Water is typically available at the Basin/Little Haystack Col (mile 9) through early August.
Theodore Roosevelt (then vice president) was hiking Mt. Marcy when he learned that President McKinley was on his deathbed.
Contact (518) 668-4447; adk.org
Maps USGS quads Keene Valley, Mount Marcy, North Elba ($8 each; store.usgs.gov)
Season June to September
Permits None for dayhikes or one-night trips