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 (1). Head southwest past a killer swimming hole to cross the North Fork of the Bouquet River at mile .7 (2). From here, the trail weaves through ferny undergrowth to another crossing at mile 3.3. Just beyond are three tent sites (Note: There are also multiple tent sites before mile 3.3) (3). 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 (4), where a 35- to 40-degree rock slab leads .3 mile to the open summit of East Dix (5). 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 and blue markers southwest along the ridge for a mile to the top of 4,060-foot South Dix (6). From here, drop 500 feet to a saddle (7) between South Dix and 4,405-foot Macomb Mountain. A spur leads to Macomb (8), the day’s third 46er. Return to South Dix and head north to 4,400-foot Hough Peak (9). 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); Do not attempt in the dark. 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.
Driving From Keene Valley, drive south on NY 73 seven miles to a bridge over the North Fork of the Bouquet River. Park in a pullout on the left, immediately after the bridge. Beware: The parking entrance is rough. Late August is primo (no blackflies).
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).