The tallest of the trail-less peaks, Gray is often climbed in conjunction with Skylight and Marcy, and was named by Verplanck Colvin for the botanist Asa Gray. The summit is somewhat filled with trees, but with stunted growth, so there are still great views to be seen from the top towards Skylight.
Distance: ~15 miles round-trip
Elevation: 4,840 ft
Ascent: 2,661 ft from Adirondack Loj
The hike up Gray begins the same as Mt Marcy, hiking a rolling to gradual trail for 2.3 miles to Marcy Dam. If you are hiking with younger or less experienced hikers, they can accompany you as far as the dam and then turn back for an easy, gentle walk. Plus, the view from the dam makes it a beautiful place to stop and have a picnic or quick snack. The bridge across the dam washed out in 2011, so you’ll cross the stream a little before the dam. After reaching the dam, you’ll see the trail register ahead for all of the peaks that ascend from here. Continuing past the trail register you’ll pass some designated campsites, reaching the Avalanche Pass trailhead in 100 yards. As you continue on the trail to Avalanche Pass, you soon hit an intersection where you will take a left that heads to Lake Arnold. As you climb towards Mt Colden, you will eventually come to Lake Arnold, at which point you will stay left around the lake, descending slightly into a small, beautiful valley. You will then follow a trail that will take you steeply up again to the left, eventually coming to Lake Tear-of-the-Clouds. At the lake’s outlet, the herd path up Gray begins – be sure to follow the path closely, as it can be faint at times. The herd path will continue up to the summit ridge, following the ridge from there to the summit, where you will find impressive views and some places for shelter if it is windy. This hike is one that it is important to keep a map handy, and you’ll want to pay close attention to your directions throughout.
If you’re interested in a longer hike (17.2 miles round-trip), you can hike Gray in conjunction with Skylight and Marcy, a popular route that we’ve done before and describe in a blog post here.
Directions to Adirondack Loj Trailhead:
From Lake Placid, take route 73 towards Keene, turning right onto Adirondack Loj Road, which you will follow to the end. There will be a tollbooth at the entrance where you will have to pay a $10 parking fee.