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Views of the High Peaks are dominated by the Great Range, an imposing chain of eight 4,000-foot peaks 12 miles southeast of Lake Placid. While many hikers choose to gaze at it from easier trails, those who tackle this demanding lasso loop will trace the range’s airy ridgeline to three of its northernmost summits.
Pick up West River Trail off Lake Road and amble southwest along the East Branch Ausable River through hemlock and beech. The climbing ramps up on Gothics-Armstrong Trail, gaining 2,700 feet in the 2.4-mile stretch to Gothics’s 4,736-foot summit. Hike north across slabs and krummholz to 4,400-foot Armstrong Mountain. Descend ledges on the back to finish the day’s climb on 4,185-foot Upper Wolfjaw.
-Mapped by Lisa Densmore, Densmore Designs.com
TO TRAILHEAD: From the bridge over Johns Brook in Keene Valley, drive 3.3 miles east on NY 73 to Saint Huberts. At the second junction with Ausable Rd., turn right. Go about 100 yards. The trailhead parking lot is on the left. This is the same parking lot for the hike to Noonmark and Round Mountains. Parking is not permitted along Ausable Road. Walk up the dirt road to the trailhead.
- Distance: 20.0
Location: 44.149724, -73.767885
To reach the trailhead from the parking area on Ausable Club Road, walk west on the dirt road into the Ausable Club.
Location: 44.149657, -73.774899
Continue straight on the dirt road, ignoring the trail to Noonmark, which departs on the left.
Location: 44.151089, -73.779116
Turn left on Lake Road, and head southwest between the tennis courts.
Location: 44.149854, -73.781428
At the trailhead, turn right to start the 11-mile lasso loop. Ahead, cross the East Branch Ausable River on a footbridge.
Location: 44.150385, -73.784062
Turn left on the West River Trail on the far side of the bridge.
Location: 44.147048, -73.788943
Lower Cathedral Rocks Trail departs to the right. Continue straight on West River Trail.
Location: 44.14366, -73.796561
Continue straight on West River Trail at the junction with the upper Cathedral Rocks Trail.
Location: 44.14309, -73.799458
Continue straight on West River Trail at the junction with the trail to Canyon Bridge.
Location: 44.135699, -73.810852
Bear left (south), continuing on the West River Trail, at the junction with the trail from Wolfjaw Notch.
Location: 44.129138, -73.816645
Turn right (northwest) toward Gothics Col at the junction with the trail to Gothics Col.
Location: 44.130386, -73.820057
Continue straight on the Gothics Col Trail where Lost Lookout Trail departs on the left.
Location: 44.130584, -73.824099
Cross the wilderness boundary into state land.
Location: 44.130767, -73.845814
Pass a balancing boulder.
Location: 44.130669, -73.852253
At Gothics Col, turn left (northeast) to summit Gothics.
Location: 44.127706, -73.857415
Crest the top of Gothics. Next, backtrack to GRT014 and continue straight. Climb north across rock slabs and krummholz toward Armstrong Mountain.
Location: 44.134575, -73.849728
Summit Armstrong Mountain, then descend ledges on the backside.
Location: 44.140242, -73.845162
Turn left on the spur to Upper Wolfjaw.
Location: 44.140473, -73.845356
Summit Upper Wolfjaw, then return to GRT017 and turn left.
Location: 44.144758, -73.836182
Turn right at Wolfjaw Notch, immediately passing the upper trail to Lower Wolfjaw Mountain.
Location: 44.144122, -73.834713
Continue straight past the trail to Lower Wolfjaw.
Location: 44.144107, -73.831367
Hike past the lower trail to Lower Wolfjaw.
Location: 44.136629, -73.815878
Cross the wilderness boundary. Ahead, reconnect with GRT009 and turn left. Retrace the route back to your car.